Friday, November 9, 2012

Houdini bumped for Nascar's Fastest Monkey?

The just released book, History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed by Matt Stone and Preston Lerner, had promised a section on Houdini. The book mentioned "Houdini's Last Ride" on the cover, and Amazon still features this blurb in the book description:

Did you know Harry Houdini learned to drive late in life only because he needed to get to an airport for a stunt, and it was the only drive that he ever made?

However, it appears Houdini might have been cut from the book. I don't have the book in hand, but a scan of the index at Google books shows nothing on Houdini. Even the cover art has been be revised. Now in place of "Houdini's Last Ride"is "Nascar's Fastest Monkey"(!).

Original Houdini blurb cover (left). Revised cover (right).

I'm wondering if I had anything to do with this. When I first caught wind of this title back in March, I pointed that the information regarding "Houdini's Last Ride" wasn't exactly correct. I suspected the authors were referring to Houdini's trip to Australia in 1910 when he used an automobile to get to the field at Diggers Rest where he made his historic first flight. It has been said that this is when he first learned to drive.

However, we now know that Houdini purchased a Humber automobile in England in 1904 (I posted a story on that here and followed up with the exact specs of this car). There's even a reference to Houdini competing in an auto race at the time.

I really hope I wasn't the cause of Houdini being cut from the book. Sure, the info wasn't exactly correct, but when has that ever stopped anyone? And this certainly isn't one of the more egregious Houdini myths. Heck, it's possible the Australian car was indeed the last car Houdini drove himself, so "Houdini's Last Ride" could still apply.

Or maybe the publishers just figured a Nascar Monkey would move more books than Harry. *sigh*

With or without Houdini, you can still buy History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed on

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