Peter Revson (1939-1974) was an American racing driver who has successfully competed in Formula 1 and various racing series in the United States.
He recorded 30 starts in Formula One World Championship between 1964 and 1974, scoring two wins and six more podiums. Outside F1, his greatest success was a pole position and second place at 1971 Indianapolis 500.
Peter Revson lived life to the fullest
Born in New York City, on February 27, 1939, in the family of Russian origin, Revson had an easy childhood as he was an heir to his father Martin's fortune, which was reportedly over one billion dollars. He was also a nephew of Revlon cosmetics industry magnate Charles Revson. Out of the racing, his life was similar to the one on the track – fast and dangerous – before it was ended in the accident in South Africa.
Racing career was an unexpected choice
Revson had many opened doors in his life and attended both the Columbia University and Cornell University, but never graduated. After, while studying at the University of Hawaii in 1960, Revson showed interest in racing and slowly began to compete. He has won some minor local competitions driving a Plus Four Morgan and soon moved up through the ranks, becoming experienced and competitive in various racing series.
Peter Revson made a Formula One debut in 1964
Formula 1 debut in 1964 with his own team
In 1963, Revson raced professionally in Europe, driving in Formula Junior. The next year, he made a Formula 1 debut, driving Lotus-BRM and racing in selected Grand Prix races, but without success. In the next couple of years, Revson’s career was stagnating as he was more occupied with out-of-the-track activities, living a dissolute life, but in 1968, he became a part of the new Javelin racing program established by American Motors. He made a debut in Trans-Am Series, finishing 12th at 12 Hours of Sebring.
Next year, Revson made his first appearance in the famous Indianapolis 500 driving Brabham-Repco, and turned attention to himself as he was fifth while also being a top rookie finisher in that race. Driving a Ford Mustang, Revson scored seven top five finishes in 1969 and was elected as runner-up for rookie of the year award.
Peter Revson Can-Am series 1971
When the racer meets the actor
Revson became even better known in 1970 when he was teamed with the famous actor Steve McQueen. They finished second at 12 Hours of Sebring. Later that year, Peter joined Mark Donohue in the Penske Racing AMC team, driving Javelin in the SCCA Trans-Am Series, while in the Can-Am series he was one of the title contenders, driving L&M Lola Cars special. During the same year, Revson scored his best finish at Indianapolis 500, finishing second after starting from pole position.
Revson driving a McLaren at the Formula 1 Championship Spanish Grand Prix in 1973
Two good seasons with McLaren
In 1972, Peter Revson had competed in the Formula 1 championship as a driver of the McLaren team. In his first full-season, the swinging American scored 23 points and had four podium finishes which was enough to clinch a respectable fifth place at the end of the season. He remained with McLaren in 1973 and continued to improve. Revson was the winner of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park, with third place at Monza, but again was fifth in the Formula 1 Drivers’ championship, scoring a total of 38 points. Interestingly, Revson’s victory at the British Grand Prix was the last Formula 1 race won by a US-born racer.
Video : Peter Revson's fatal accident at the 1974 Kyalami circuit race
Tragedy at Kyalami
Maybe a bit surprisingly, Peter Revson moved to the Shadow team in 1974. The start wasn’t good as he retired at the Argentinian Grand Prix while his next going out on the track was the last one. On 22nd of March, during a test session at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa, Revson died in the accident driving Ford-Shadow DN3. The front suspension of his car failed and he crashed heavily into the barrier. The car stood on its nose and soon went on fire. Even after safety workers managed to pull the poor a driver out, Revson was already dead.
So, Peter became the second Revson who lost his life in a racing accident. His brother Douglas died in the accident in Denmark in 1967 and they are both buried in New York, at the Ferncliff Cemetery. Peter Revson’s autobiography ’Speed with Style’, co-written by Leon Mandel, was published later in 1974.
Crash at Kyalami circuit
Peter Revson was an easy-going guy
Revson was an easy-going guy, described by many as a free spirit, popular and often in the center of attention as a handsome bachelor, surrounded by beautiful girls like Marjorie Wallace, the 1973 Miss Universe and later a well-known actress and TV host. In 2003, Peter Revson was listed in The 100 greatest Jews in sports: ranked according to achievement, by B. P. Robert Stephen Silverman.