• Onboard The Scarab F1 At Riverside 1960

    This is a neat video, filmed at Riverside in 1960. The video posted here is just a heavily edited version of a much longer film which can be found on the web.

    The video title says the driver here is Lance Reventlow, but I've read accounts that it is actually one of the other regular Scarab drivers.

    The Scarab F1 project was one that arrived too late, and, surprisingly, given its owner, with too little money. Lance Reventlow was, of course, the son of the Danish count, Kurt von Haugwitz-Reventlow, and Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton. He spent his early years in Europe, before his parents high-profile divorce, at which point, he was sent to the US, with his mother winning custody.

    Reventlow gained a passion for motor racing from a young age, and he entered his first race, driving a Mercedes 300SL gullwing when still a teenager. From there he progressed to a Cooper, then returned to Europe briefly to drive a Maserati sports car. During a visit to the Lister factory, Reventlow decided to start building his own race cars.

    Back in the US, he acquired a building, and hired several top people, including Warren Olson, Chuck Daigh, Dick Troutman, and Tom Barnes. Troutman and Barnes had been working for Frank Kurtis. Olson had been his crew chief when racing the Cooper. Work started on the first Scarab sports car in August 1957, and it made its race debut in April 1958, following a false start at an SCCA Regional at Phoenix the month prior, where the organisers prevented Reventlow from driving, due to having lied about his age at an earlier event.

    The Scarab sports car was a beautiful, swooping front engined machine powered by a fuel-injected small block Chevy V8. The chassis was built by Barnes, the alloy body by Troutman. Exotic materials were used throughout, including chrome-moly for the chassis. Three cars were eventually built, the third being designed to house an Offenhauser motor, which ultimately proved expensive and unsuccessful.

    The Scarab sports cars, driven by Reventlow and Chuck Daigh, who had his first run in chassis 002 in early August 1958, were among the very fastest sports cars in the US during the 1958 season, and certainly the measure of anything from Europe. At the end of 1958, Reventlow announced he was selling two of the Scarabs, and converting the other to a road car for himself. Under new ownership, the Scarabs enjoyed even greater success throughout 1959 and 1960.

    Reventlow, however, had greater ambitions. Having spent his formative years in Europe, he was well aware that Formula 1 was the very pinnacle of the sport, and he harboured desires to win in F1 with an all-American car. However, the Scarab F1 car was designed and built with the motor in the front, at a time Formula 1 was making probably its biggest transformation in its history, as teams were moving towards rear-engined cars. By the time it debuted, The Scarab was already an outdated race car.

    By 1960, Reventlow was already getting bored with motor racing, and his brief time in F1 made it greatly apparent to him that he was out of his depth. It was said that although he was paid an inheritance of $25 million on his 21st birthday, his mother still controlled the purse strings when it came to his motor racing. The Scarab sports car project was thought to have cost $150,000, the F1 project, ten times that amount. The Scarab F1 team continued until 1962, by which time a new rear-engined car had been constructed, but by this time, Reventlow had lost interest.

    Anyway, back to the 1960 Riverside video. Curiously, the engine sounds appear to be a small block Chevy, and not the Offy motor it raced with. The driver is listed as being Reventlow, however, Reventlow himself usually wore a blue helmet. The white helmet is similar to that worn by Chuck Daigh.

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