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The only son of F.W.Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and her second husband Curt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, Lance Reventlow was an international playboy with pretensions on a racing career.
His was not an easy childhood for his parents’ endured an unhappy marriage and their divorce prompted a bitter custody battle. His mother won that dispute despite her alcohol and drug problems although the nine year old Reventlow was kidnapped by his father for a time.
Hutton’s third husband, Cary Grant, protected the youngster as best he could but was soon also divorced. She married again and that relationship would fire Lance’s imagination. Husband number four, Russian Prince Igor Troubetzkoy, was a sometime racing driver and the 12 year old Reventlow followed his step father around the circuits of Europe.
Early racing career
Reventlow began racing during the 1950s – competing in amateur Californian events at first at a time when he befriended fellow enthusiast James Dean. He was one of the last people to speak with Dean before that enigmatic actor was killed in a 1955 road accident.
Intent on making his mark as a racing driver, Reventlow drove a Cooper T43-Climax in three British Formula 2 races during 1957. Last on each occasion, he was fourth in the Rochester Trophy at Brands Hatch. Although hardly an auspicious European debut, Reventlow was not to be deterred.
Scarab and Formula 1
He formed his own manufacturing company in Venice, California and Scarab was successful in SCCA events. Chuck Daigh won the 1958 United States Grand Prix for the new marque – that inaugural race at Riverside was run as a sports car event.
Buoyed by success at home, Reventlow plotted a future in GP racing but the resulting Scarab was a throwback to a previous era – the last rear-engine Formula 1 car. It was a disaster with Reventlow and Daigh both uncompetitive when they finally appeared in 1960. The former qualified once from three attempts – retiring from the Belgian GP – and Scarab folded after occasional outings a year later.
Reventlow remained in the public’s eye after quitting racing. He was a favourite of the gossip columns thanks to his unsuccessful marriage to actress Jill St John and subsequent rumoured dalliances with various Hollywood stars. He married again but died when only 36 years old in a light plane accident near one of his homes in the ski resort at Aspen, Colorado.