Rupert Keegan is a British former racing driver who recorded 37 participations (25 starts and 12 DNQs) in the Formula One World Championship between 1977 and 1982, driving for Hesketh, Surtees, RAM and March. Outside F1, he was a two-time British champion, winning the BARC Formula 3 Championship in 1976 and Aurora British F1 Championship in 1979.
British Formula 3 champion early in a career
Born in February 1955 in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, a son of wealthy entrepreneur started his racing career in 1973, scoring a victory inhis first ever race in a Ford Escort Mexico. After that, he participated both in sports car races and open-wheel races (Formula Ford). He entered the BARC Formula 3 Championship in 1975, scoring no wins or podiums in his rookie season but taking a championship title in his second year.
Driving a Chevron B34 (Toyota) or March 743 (Toyota) for British Air Ferries Racing Team, he scored six wins in 12 races and won a title ahead of Bruno Giacomelli. Keegan also scored two wins in the BRDC Shellsport F3 Championship, finishing second in the points behind Giacomelli.
Rupert Keegan made an F1 debut in 1977
Formula One debut with Hesketh
The success in the Formula 3 propelled Keegan into Formula 1. He was chosen to drive for Penthouse Rizla sponsored Hesketh Racing, making his debut in the #24 Hesketh 308E-Cosworth at non-championship Race of Champions in March, finishing in the 8th place at Brands Hatch. In the championship, he made a debut in the fifth round at Circuito del Jarama in Spain, not finishing the race because of an accident.
Later in the season, he started in eleven more Grand Prix races, finishing best in the seventh place in the Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring and missing to score points.
In 1978, Keegan was driving the #18 car for Durex Team Surtees
1978 F1 season with Team Surtees
For the 1978 Formula One season, Keegan moved to another British team, the Durex Team Surtees. He was driving the #18 Surtees T19-Cosworth, recording three consecutive DNFs at Argentine Grand Prix, Brazilian Grand Prix and South African Grand Prix. Then, on March 19, he scored his best result with Surtees after finishing fifth at BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.
Later in the season, he failed to qualify for five Grand Prix races, participating only at Monaco Grand Prix, Spanish Grand Prix and French Grand Prix.
Rupert Keegan was the 1979 Aurora F1 Series champion
British Formula 1 champion in 1979
After a disappointing season in F1 World Championship, Keegan returned to national racing in 1979. It was a good decision because he became British Formula 1 champion, driving an Arrows A1-Cosworth for Charles Clowes Racing. He was a race winner five times, taking a title with a two-point advantage over David Kennedy.
Outside championship, he raced at Race of Champions with Arrows A1 and Macau Grand Prix with March 792, recording DNFs in both races.
In 1980, Keegan was driving the #50 Williams FW07
Short F1 stints with RAM Racing and March
After a success in the British Formula 1, Keegan returned to the World Championship in the middle of season 1980, joining RAM Racing to drive the #50 Williams FW07-Cosworth. He recorded four starts and three DNQs. In four races that he started, his best result was the ninth place at US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.
Keegan was out of racing in 1981, recording three more Formula 1 starts in 1981 with Rothmans March Grand Prix Team. He was driving the #17 March 821-Cosworth at Österreichring (Austrian Grand Prix), Dijon-Prenois (Swiss Grand Prix) and Las Vegas (Caesars Palace Grand Prix).
Switching to sports car racing in 1982
In 1982, while he was out of F1, Keegan moved his interest to sports car racing, driving a Lola T610-Cosworth for Ultramar Team in the FIA World Endurance Championship. He was sharing a car with Guy Edwards, finishing best in the 7th place at Brands Hatch 1000 Kilometers.
In June 1982, Keegan made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He and Guy Edwards were sharing the #16 Lola T610 with Nick Faure, not finishing the race.
Keegan's Porsche 956 at 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours
Fifth place at 1983 Le Mans 24h in a Porsche 956
In 1983, Keegan recorded two starts in a Porsche 956, not finishing the race at Silverstone and taking the fifth place at Le Mans 24 Hours. In that race, he was sharing Fitzpatrick Racing's #16 Porsche 956 with Guy Edwards and John Fitzpatrick.
Keegan also participated in one race of the Thundersports series in a Ford C100, sharing a car with David Kennedy and not finishing the race.
Three world championship podiums in a Porsche 956
In 1984, Keegan spent a full season in the World Endurance Championship with Fitzpatrick/Skoal Bandit Porsche Team, driving the #55 Porsche 956. He and Guy Edwards scored two podiums, at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
The third podium came at Mosport, where Keegan was sharing a car with David Hobbs and Franz Konrad. At 1984 Le Mans race, the #55 Porsche didn't finish the race.
Good-looking Rupert Keegan was popular among female racing fans
Three starts in the 1985 Indy Car World Series
In 1985, Keegan decided to try something new so he traveled to the US to compete with Machinists Union Racing in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series. He recorded three starts in the #59 March 85C-Cosworth. He races at Mid-Ohio (19th), Laguna Seca (12th) and Miami (10th).
A year later, Keegan tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with Gohr Racing, driving the #65 March 85C-Buick. Keegan returned to America one more time six year later, in 1992, participating in two rounds of the Indy Lights Championship.
One more Le Mans attempt in 1995
After few attempts in North American open-wheel racing, Keegan's career was over. However, he recorded several starts in sports car races in 1995, including one more appearance at 24 Hours of Le Mans. In March 1995, he finished fifth at Monza 4 Hours in Freisinger Motorsport's Porsche 911 Bi-Turbo, sharing a car with Wolfgang Kaufmann and Pietro Ferrero. In April, he joined Henri Pescarolo at Nurburgring 4 Hours in Fred Laufer Racing's Porsche 911 GT2.
Finally, in June 1995, Keegan was driving the #52 Lister Storm GTS for a factory team at Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing a car with Geoff Lees and Dominic Chapell. They retired after 40 laps.
In a post-race life, Keegan was a regular guest at historic racing events, such is Goodwood Revival