The Racing Driver Who Cut Off Her Breasts And Aided The Nazis, Explained

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A while back, I wrote about the very conflicting story of Violette Morris, a cyclecar racer in the 1920s who was so insanely hardcore she had her breasts removed so she could fit into her cramped race cars better. She’s a fascinating person, but also something of a monster who ended up murdering people for the Gestapo. Not an easy story, but one that’s hard to ignore. And now she’s the subject of the very first video of our new Jalopnik Explains series.

Thanks to the fantastic work of Gizmodo’s in-house animator Elisa Solinas, Morris’ alternately inspiring and yet deeply disturbing story has been made into this short animated film.


Morris was a skilled racing driver and athlete in her day, but was ostracized heavily for wearing men’s clothing and for her sexual relationships with women. Perhaps she’s most famous for undergoing a voluntary double mastectomy in the late 1920s so she could race more easily.

But when World War II happened, she aided the French Gestapo and was called “the Gestapo’s Hyena” for her use of torture. Morris was killed in 1944, behind the wheel of a supercharged Citroën, of all things.


Morris is by no means the easiest person to understand or sympathize with, and I absolutely understand that some people won’t even want to give her any attention at all, due to the horrific choices she ended up making. It’s still a fascinating story, and a reminder how complicated people are, and what conflicting and interesting messes they and life can be.


Video credit Elisa Solinas