It is practice day at Monaco before the 1960 Grand Prix. Lance Reventlow (left) has brought a pair of his new American Scarab F1 cars to Monaco to compete against the world’s best. Reventlow, a Woolworth heir, had wanted his self-financed Grand Prix effort to be an all-American one. But his cars had been forced to use Girling disc brakes and, eventually, Dunlop tires. It was hoped that these lovely new cars could duplicate Reventlow’s great success with his earlier Chevrolet-powered sports cars.
The Scarabs had a new engine, based on the Offenhauser, but with desmodromic valve gear to allow for higher engine speeds. Although beautifully finished, the Scarabs, driven by Reventlow and Chuck Daigh, were too heavy, too slow and of an already-outdated front-engine design. To get an unblemished view of his car’s potential, Reventlow asked Stirling Moss (right) to try his Scarab around the Monte Carlo circuit where Moss was the unquestioned master. Here Moss is giving the bad news to Reventlow.
In Reventlow’s car Moss was two seconds faster than the best Scarab driver Chuck Daigh, some indication of his driving talent. However, the great Englishman was some 8.7 seconds slower in the Scarab than his pole time in Rob Walker ‘s new Lotus 18-Climax with which he would celebrate another Monaco win. In those days there was a grid limit of 16 starters, which left 24 entries to fight it out in qualifying for the available grid spots. The Scarabs were obviously to be among the non-qualifiers.
Reventlow and Daigh went on to the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, but withdrew due to the non-payment of starting money, although Daigh did qualify, and then made their last appearance at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps where both started but both engines blew. That was the end of the season for them.
The Scarab Grand Prix car was a notable and expensive effort, but Reventlow found that F1 racing was at a level wholly different from sports car racing in America.
Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection