|Born||March 23, 1936|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Entries||1 (0 starts)|
|First entry||1958 Monaco Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1958 Monaco Grand Prix|
March 23, 1936 |
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, television director|
Kessler born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Beverly Hills, California. He was the son of a clothing designer. In the early 1950s he started racing his mother's Jaguar XK120 in the Sports Car Club of America races at sixteen years old. He raced the road race courses at Paramount Ranch and Willow Springs in California. He was a team driver along with Chuck Daigh for the Scarab race cars built by his good friend Lance Reventlow in the late 1950s.
Kessler and Reventlow, driving Reventlow's Mercedes-Benz SL aluminum coupe had stopped at Blackwells Corner on CA Rt. 466/133 on September 30, 1955 on their way to the Salinas Road Races when James Dean and his mechanic, Rolf Wutherich pulled in with Dean's Porsche Spyder. They all agreed to meet for dinner at Paso Robles, about 60 miles away that evening. Reventlow and Kessler took off 10 minutes earlier. Dean never made it as he was involved in a fatal two-car crash at Rt. 466/41 near Cholame 30 miles away. Kessler, today, remains the last person alive who spoke with James Dean before his death.
The Scarabs won the International Grand Prix at Riverside, California beating the famous driver Phil Hill and the Ferrari team. Kessler was invited to Europe to drive at Le Mans. On 22 March 1958 Kessler became class winner at "12 hour Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance for the AMOCO Trophy" (12 h Sebring), driving a Ferrari 250 GT LWB (#0773GT).
After a serious crash at the 1959 Examiner Grand Prix at Pomona, California, he spent days in a coma. Soon after, he retired from racing.
Kessler came back to California and became a film and television director. He directed many television films and series. One of his earliest efforts was a short film he directed on the Scarab race car for his friend Lance Reventlow called The Sound of Speed. As a film and television director, some his credits include Angels from Hell, The Monkees, The Flying Nun, Mission: Impossible, It Takes a Thief, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Rockford Files, McCloud, CHiPs, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hunter and Renegade, his last directing credit.
Complete Formula One results
|1958||Bernie Ecclestone||Connaught Type B||Alta Straight-4||ARG||MON