Lance Reventlow

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Lance Reventlow
Born Lawrence Graf von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow
(1936-02-24)February 24, 1936
London, England, U.K.
Died July 24, 1972(1972-07-24) (aged 36)
Aspen, Colorado, U.S.
Cause of death
Airplane crash
Resting place
Woodlawn Cemetery
Occupation Racing driver, entrepreneur
Years active 1959–1972
Spouse(s) Jill St. John (m. 1960; div. 1963)
Cheryl Holdridge (m. 1964–72)
Parents Barbara Hutton
Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow

Lawrence Graf "Lance" von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow,[1] (February 24, 1936 – July 24, 1972) was a British-born American entrepreneur, racing driver and heir to the Woolworth fortune.

Reventlow was the only child of heiress Barbara Hutton and her second husband Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow. His stepfathers included actor Cary Grant and Prince Igor Troubetzkoy.

Early years[edit]

Lance von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow was the only child of Danish nobleman Count Court von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow and American socialite Barbara Hutton. Hutton had inherited the Woolworth department store fortune and was then one of the wealthiest women in the world. Reventlow was born at Winfield House in London, restored by his mother and named for her grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth. Reventlow's birth was difficult and his mother almost died during his delivery. As a child, he struggled with respiratory problems and was asthmatic.[2]

Reventlow's parents' marriage was a tumultuous one. The marriage, Hutton's second of seven, did not last and Reventlow became the subject of a bitter custody battle after the couple divorced in 1938. In 1944, Reventlow's father was awarded custody until he reached school age after which Hutton would gain custody.[2] Before his father was to relinquish custody, he sent Reventlow to Canada.[2] Hutton regained custody of Reventlow in 1945. Reventlow was largely estranged from his father until the Count's death in 1969.[3]

Racing career[edit]

Lance Reventlow
Born (1936-02-24)February 24, 1936
Died July 24, 1972(1972-07-24) (aged 36)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality American
Active years 1960
Teams Scarab, Cooper
Races 4 (1 start)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1960 Monaco Grand Prix
Last race 1960 British Grand Prix

Beginnings[edit]

In 1948, at age 12, Reventlow was introduced to the world of Grand Prix motor racing when his mother married Prince Igor Troubetzkoy who won the Targa Florio that year. As a teenager, Reventlow's money afforded him the latest in exotic cars that led to his involvement in motor racing.

In Hollywood, Reventlow became friends with fellow auto enthusiast James Dean and competed in club events around California. On September 30, 1955, Lance Reventlow was one of the last people to speak to Dean when they met on their way to an auto race in Salinas, California. Reventlow said he had coffee with Dean at a restaurant approximately thirty minutes before Dean was killed in an automobile accident while driving his Porsche 550 Spyder in Cholame, California.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Reventlow eventually decided to go to Europe to race cars and spent a season driving Cooper Formula 2 cars. He then returned to the United States and set up his own company in Venice, California, to construct Chevrolet-powered race cars he named Scarab with Phil Remington as chief engineer. Along with hired driver Chuck Daigh, the two were initially successful in racing. They won the majority of major sportscar events they entered, often in competition with the Cunningham team of Lister Jaguars. Daigh drove a Scarab to victory in the 1958 Riverside International Grand Prix in California beating a field of international race car teams, including the world famous race car driver Phil Hill and the Ferrari Team. Carroll Shelby drove a Scarab to first place at Continental Divide Raceways in Castle Rock in Douglas County, Colorado, where he broke a course record.

His racing team was much talked about for having built the first Formula One race car in America. Shifting operations overseas to Britain, Reventlow's team raced the Scarab cars in Formula One with little success against the new rear-engine race cars. Lance went back to the drawing board and built a competitive prototype Scarab rear-engined car, but had become less interested in racing before its testing was complete. In 1962, he shut down the operation, leased the California facilities to Carroll Shelby, and quit auto racing altogether.

Reventlow's organization constructed a total of eight Scarabs during its existence. In a 1971 interview, Reventlow confirmed that three front-engined Chevy powered sports cars, three front-engined formula cars, one rear-engined formula car and one rear-engined sports car were built. Two of the front-engined formula cars were powered by Reventlow-commissioned engines drawn up by American racing engine designer Leo Goossen to Reventlow's specifications, while the third car was powered by a Goossen designed and engineered Offenhauser engine. The rear-engined formula was powered by a modified Buick powerplant; this engine and the suspension/brake package were taken from this car and used on the rear-engined sports car, the last Scarab built.

Personal life[edit]

At the age of 21, Reventlow was given the choice between becoming an American, Danish or British citizen. He chose American citizenship stating, "I thought it over for a full 20 seconds."[5]

Marriages[edit]

On March 24, 1960, Reventlow married actress Jill St. John in San Francisco. They separated in October 1962.[6] St. John filed for divorce on October 2, 1963 citing extreme cruelty.[7] St. John contended that Reventlow called her "stupid and incompetent" in front of others and bullied her into taking part in dangerous sports. Their divorce was granted on October 30, 1963.[6]

On November 6, 1964, Reventlow married ex-Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge in Hollywood. The couple married in a lavish ceremony before 600 guests. Reventlow's mother, Barbara Hutton, could not attended the wedding due to illness but gifted the couple with a $500,000, five bedroom home set on 21 acres in Benedict Canyon.[8]

Death[edit]

In 1972, Reventlow was looking to partner with real estate developers to build a ski resort in Aspen, Colorado where he also had a home.[5] While Reventlow was an experienced pilot, with thousands of hours, rated fully for IFR on multi-engine planes, when scouting locations for real estate he was only a passenger. On July 24, 1972, the Cessna 206 Reventlow was in, helmed by an inexperienced 27-year-old student pilot, flew into a blind canyon and the pilot stalled the aircraft while trying to turn around.[9] The small plane plunged to the ground, killing all aboard, including the 36-year-old Lance Reventlow.[5]

Reventlow was initially buried but his remains were later exhumed and cremated. His ashes are interred in the Woolworth mausoleum at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.[10]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 WDC Points
1960 Reventlow Automobiles Inc. Scarab Scarab Straight-4 ARG
MON
DNQ
500
NED
DNS
BEL
Ret
FRA
NC 0
Cooper Car Company Cooper T51 Climax Straight-4 GBR
WD
POR
ITA
USA

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Barbara Hutton in GeneAll.net". 
  2. ^ a b c "Barbara Hutton's Son Grows Up". Ottawa Citizen. November 20, 1958. p. 20. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Bob (July 25, 1972). "Reventlow Was Born, Died Rich". The Day. p. 20. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ Carroll, Harrison (October 21, 1955). "Behind the Scenes In Hollywood". The Dispatch. p. 6. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Lance Reventlow Dies In Crash". The Sunday News Journal. July 23, 1972. p. 8. Retrieved May 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Jill St. John Gets $86,000 Plus Divorce". The Deseret News. October 31, 1963. p. 12B. Retrieved May 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Jill St. John Asks Divorce, Charges Extreme Cruelty". Toledo Blade. October 2, 1963. p. 3. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ Bacon, James (November 6, 1964). "600 See Lance Reventlow Marry Cheryl Holdridge". Schenectady Gazette. p. 20. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ NTSB report on the fatal plane accident
  10. ^ Heymann, C. David (1987). Poor Little Rich Girl. Pocket Books. p. 380. ISBN 0-671-64069-0. 

External links[edit]