He was born IN 1939, a heir to the Revlon cosmetics fortune but died a respected professional race car driver. “I really feel he was one of the top six drivers in F1,” former McLaren team manager Teddy Mayer once said to Autoweek.
“Revvie,” as friends, teammates and competitors all called him with genuine warmth, was born on February 27, 1939. He attended several Eastern prep schools and colleges but his interests was mainly in sports, particularly football. Restless, he moved to Hawaii, and while attending the University of Hawaii he entered some club events driving a Morgan Plus 4. He won his second race, but after his third the local organization banned him as “too aggressive.”
In 1962 he joined up with Tim Mayer, Bill Smith Jr. and Tyler Alexander to compete in Formula Junior. Sensing that his racing future lay in Europe he made the plunge in 1963. Not wishing to receive any special favors from his family he toured Europe living out of the back of the transporter carrying his car, a privately entered Cooper. Near the end of the year he had an opportunity to race a private Lotus-BRM at the non-championship International Gold Cup at Oulton Park. After racing Formula Three and Two with several successes including a victory at Monaco he returned to the United States in 1966 after failing to land a seat in Formula One.
In the United States he raced endurance cars for Ford and Can-Am cars for Lola and McLaren. In the latter he won the championship in 1971. But Formula One was still his dream and in 1972 Revson was named to the McLaren F1 team. He scored his first pole position that year, and earned enough points to rank fifth in the world championship. In 1973, he took his first Grand Prix victories at Silverstone and Mosport, but wound up fifth in the championship again. The next year would be his breakout year but the addition of 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi to McLaren caused Revson to move to Shadow, a move with tragic results. He lost his life on March 22, 1974, due to suspension failure while testing the F1 Shadow at Kyalami in South Africa.