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Stealing Speed: The Biggest Spy Scandal in Motorsport history

Published: 31 March 2009

Updated: 21 November 2014

Famed motorcycle writer Mat Oxley’s new book is enough to rival John Le Carre for intrigue.

And the best thing about it is it’s all true! Stealing Speed is out now, priced £17.99 from all good bookshops.

Here’s the full blurb from publisher, Haynes:

This is the remarkable true story of how one of Japan's biggest motorcycle manufacturers stole a Nazi rocket scientist's engine secrets from behind the Iron Curtain to win the motorcycle power race and conquer the world.

In 1961, with the Cold War at its height, the East and West were battling for supremacy on the racetracks of Europe.

Using technology from the notorious V-1 flying bomb, former Nazi rocket scientist Walter Kaaden helped build the world's most powerful race bikes for the East German factory MZ.

But when their star rider Ernst Degner was poised to win the world championship he defected and sold MZ's secrets to Suzuki, while his wife and children were drugged and smuggled to freedom through the Berlin Wall.

Suzuki and Degner won the world title the following year and Japan was on its way to ruling the world of motorcycling.

Suzuki, then Yamaha and Kawasaki, used Kaaden's know-how to build world-dominating race bikes and create legendary street machines that made Japan the global force in motorcycling.

Degner was now rich and free, but his life took a downward spiral. Branded a traitor by the

Communists, he suffered horrific injuries in a fiery racing accident and died in mysterious circumstances.

Here is the whole extraordinary story, from the death-defying antics of the era's devil-may-care grand prix racers to Degner's battle for world title glory, his James Bond-style escape from the Communists and finally his lonely, mysterious death.

Stealing Speed is a breathtaking story of racetrack heroics and Cold War skulduggery.

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