About Peter Jeffrey Revson
Peter Jeffrey Revson (February 27, 1939 – March 22, 1974) was an American race car driver who had successes in Formula One and the Indianapolis 500.
Peter Revson was born in New York City, the son of Julie (née Phelps) and Martin Revson.
The nephew of Revlon Cosmetics industry magnate Charles Revson, he was an heir to his father Martin's fortune (reportedly worth over $1 billion). He was a young, handsome bachelor who was described as a "free spirit" that passed up an easy life for one of speed and danger. Off the track, he led his life at the same accelerated pace. Revson piloted a 32-foot (9.8 m) ChrisCraft and courted some of the most beautiful women in the world, including fashion model and 1973 Miss World, Marjorie Wallace. He had met Wallace at the Indianapolis 500; she was an Indianapolis native who was referred to as the "Hoosier Hotshot."
Revson began racing in 1960 while at the University of Hawaii. He previously attended both Columbia University and Cornell University. Revson finished second in a local club event, driving a Plus Four Morgan. He proceeded in his racing career, becoming experienced in Formula cars, Trans-Am sedans, Can-Am Group 7 racers, GT's, and Indianapolis racers.
1963-1974 Formula One, TransAm, Can-Am and Indianapolis
In 1963 Revson raced professionally while barnstorming Europe, driving a Formula Junior which was towed behind a beaten up British bread van. In 1968 he was part of the new Javelin racing program established by American Motors (AMC). At the first Trans-Am Series attempt, the 12 Hours of Sebring, Revson and Skip Scott drove to a 12th overall and took 5th in their class.
In the 1969 Indianapolis 500 Revson was the top rookie finisher, placing fifth in the event. He drove a Brabham-Repco which experienced carburetor problems. During a post-race election, he was selected as runner-up for rookie of the year. For the year Revson achieved seven top five finishes in the TransAm series, driving a Mustang (car).
In 1970 he teamed with Steve McQueen to place second in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The same year Revson drove with Mark Donohue in the Penske Racing AMC factory-team Javelins, in the SCCA Trans Am. He piloted an L&M Lola Cars special and became a top contender in the Can-Am racing series. Revson joined McLaren in 1971, becoming the first American to win the Can-Am Championship. That same season he finished second in the Indianapolis 500 after posting the fastest qualifying time.
He competed in the Indy 500 each year from 1969–1973. In 1972, Revson was named to the McLaren Formula One team. He remained with the team for two years, winning the 1973 British Grand Prix and the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix. He moved to Shadow in 1974. He is the last American born driver to win a Formula One race (Mario Andretti, who won in later years, is a naturalized American). His British Grand Prix victory made him the 50th World Championship Grand Prix winner.
During a test session, on 22 March 1974, before the 1974 South African Grand Prix in Kyalami. While driving the Ford UOP Shadow-Ford DN3, he suffered a front suspension failure, and crashed heavily into the Armco Barrier on the outside of "Barbecue Bend.", and was killed.
Tony Southgate, designer of the DN3, (Motorsport Magazine June 2012, Pg 84.) - "Revvie was a fabulous easy-going guy, fitted in well, and a very good driver. But tragically he wasn't with us for long. He qualified on row 2 for Argentina and row 3 for Brazil. Then he and I, our chief mechanic Pete Kerr and two other mechanics went down to Kyalami for testing before the South African GP. Revvie was going very well, very happy with the car, and then he didn't come around. We rushed out to the back of the circuit and found the car buried under the armco on the outside of a quick corner. Peter was already in the ambulance and gone. I phoned the hospital, and they told me I had to go to the morgue and identify him. When the news got out all hell let loose, journalists banging on my hotel door, then the Revson family lawyer arrived and took over."
"We were using titanium quite a lot on the DN3, which was quite a new material then. Titanium is finicky, it has to be machined smooth and the surface polished, and a ball joint which had some coarse machining on it had failed. There was only one layer of Armco and the car, instead of being deflected or stopped, had gone right under as far as the cockpit. I felt personally responsible. It was a very difficult time. The glamour of Formula 1 had gone, replaced by a sort of loneliness. You just had to work on. Of course I replaced all the titanium components with steel before the next race."
He was the second Revson to lose his life racing; his brother Douglas was killed in a crash in Denmark in 1967. Peter and Douglas Revson are interred together in a crypt at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
Revson was replaced by Tom Pryce, who died three years later at the same Grand Prix.
He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996 in the sports car category.