On this day in F1 – 22 March, is brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler: Bart De Pauw
– 1974: Fatal accident of Peter Revson
During a test session in preparation for the 1974 South African Grand Prix, Peter Revson’s UOP Shadow-Ford DN3 suffered a front suspension failure and crashed at about 220 km/h head-on into the armco barrier on the outside of famous Barbecue Bend of the Kyalami circuit. The American – a two times grand prix winner for McLaren in 1973 – had no chance of survival as his car went over the top of the rail and caught fire immediately.
Graham Hill and a couple of other drivers that arrived at the spot first tried to quench the fire and get Revson out of his car, but it was only after a truck with a lager fire extinguisher came up that they were able to get the flames away. They then managed to pick the car up and get Revson’s body back over the guard rail, but the driver was already dead.
Further investigations demonstrated that the accident was caused by the collapse of a titanium bolt at the left front suspension, a part that had not been produced by Shadow themselves but had been bought from a London-based supplier, and that Revson died on impact.
Not taking into account the US drivers that won the Indianapolis 500 during the period 1950-1960 when it was part of the F1 World Championship, Peter Revson until today is only the fifth grand prix winner coming from the United States of America (question: do you know the other four?).
It is also little known that Revson, who despite his very good 1973 season was sacked by the McLaren team that needed his cockpit for Emerson Fittipaldi and the millions of dollars of Marlboro and Texaco, was destined to become Niki Lauda’s teammate at Ferrari, only for the contract negotiations to be stopped by Luca di Montezemolo at the very end as Revson wanted to be released from his regular Ferrari duties to participate to the Indianapolis 500.
All this and much more – such as his love affairs with Miss World 1973 and his heirship of the Revlon Cosmetics fortune – can be read in Peter Revson’s outstanding autobiography “Speed with Style” that hit the presses only a couple of days before the tragic events on March 22nd 1974.
I have read and re-read his book and strongly recommend it as it gives an interesting view of his life and the racing world of the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks for reminding me of one of motor racing’s characters.
Talk about unlucky, to go from almost getting a top drive to being gone so soon. I can’t help but think the same thing happened to Tom Pryce – it looks eerily similar with the same car and everything.
The other American winners: Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Mario Andretti (all GPL era!), and almost Eddie Cheever I guess!