Grand Prix roadster
- Don Capps
- 8W Millennium issue
1960 Monaco GP (practice)
- This was the first attempt of the Scarab to qualify for a race.
- Life is often unfair. If the Scarab had appeared in 1958 or even at the beginning of 1959, it might have been able to enjoy at least some measure or chance of success. Had it appeared at the start of 1957, who knows? But, it appeared in mid-1960 and it was too late since the rear-engined cars had already changed the name of the game. The cars were superbly crafted, to the level excellence found and expected in the aircraft industry and in American Champ Cars which was well above the craftsmanship found in the Cooper, Ferrari, and Lotus machines on the grid. The level of finish and the paint scheme alone was enough to put all the others to shame.
- As the son of Betty Hutton, the heiress to the Woolworth fortune, Lance Reventlow was able to indulge his passions, the foremost of which was racing cars. In 1957, the young racer decided to build American racing cars to challenge the Europeans in sports car and Grand Prix racing. The sports car was underway and progressing well when the CSI decided to place a limit on the displacement for the sports car championship - 3-litres. Since the Scarab sports car was being built around a Chevrolet engine of about 5-litres displacement, the rug was almost literally pulled out from under the team before it even got to the track. However, the effort went forth and was completed for use in the domestic sports car events in the United States. In the Fall of 1958, a Scarab with Chuck Daigh won the Fall race at Riverside. It was an huge win for the team.
- There was a parallel effort to the sports car program which was much more ambitious, a program to build an American Grand Prix car. Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes - the famous Troutman-Barnes duo - were retained to build the chassis and Leo Goosen, the designer of the justly famous Miller and Offenhauser engines used at Indianapolis and in Champ Car racing, was to design the engine. Two excellent engineer-drivers were on the team to develop the car: Chuck Daigh and Ken Miles. Goosen chose a four-cylinder design which would be laid on its side - as some of the contemporary Offenhauser engines were in roadsters at Indianapolis. This was to reduce the frontal area and lower the driving position. Goosen also decided to use a desmodromic valve system similar to that found on the Mercedes M196 engine. The system proved difficult to get to work correctly and development dragged on and on with the entire 1959 season being written off due to engine problems. It was not until early 1960 that the problems seemed to be finally overcome and the engine actually worked.
- The chassis was relatively large, but very light due to the well thought-out design of the multi-tubular frame. The engine, as mentioned, was canted to nearly horizontal the propeller shaft to the side of the cockpit to lower the seating position. Although quote the Scarab as having a four-speed gearbox, it was a five-speed gearbox housed in the casing from the Chevrolet Corvette. After trying several different approaches to braking systems, the team settled on Girling disc brakes. This caused some consternation since one objective of the team was to be as "All-American" as possible. The car was to run on Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires. These tires were a far cry from what Goodyear would later produce for road racing. They were truly awful when compared to the Dunlop R5 tires then being sported by almost all the European teams.
- After finally getting the engine to work, the team loaded up and headed for Europe and its big adventure. The destination was Monte Carlo and the Monaco Grand Prix. They were completely off the pace and nowhere near the times the new Cooper T53 and Lotus 18 machines with their Climax FPF engines and Dunlop tires were making. The times on the Goodyear tires were slower than those of nearly five years prior. Stirling Moss took one of the cars around and set a time of 1 min 45 sec, which was much slower than his eventual pole time of 1 min 36.3 sec. Daigh finally got his car, now on Dunlop tires, around he circuit in 1 min 47.0 sec, while Reventlow managed a best lap at 1 min 48.5 sec. The slowest time that made the grid was 1 min 39.1 sec, a time the Scarab drivers could not even approach. A very perplexed, saddened, and wiser team packed up and moved on to the next race.
- At Zandvoort, the organizers understood the attraction of an American team and "assisted" Daigh by finding a lap that was good enough to place him on the grid. However, there was a brew up over the starting money which saw Reventlow angrily withdraw the car from the race when the numbers previously agreed upon and those offered were not in synch. Aston Martin and the Scuderia Centro Sud Cooper of Masten Gregory also passed on the race.
- Finally, both cars were on the grid for the Belgian race at Spa-Francorchamps. By now, the wear and tear of being so far from their home base in California was beginning to tell. The spares, especially for the engines, was starting to run dangerously low. Reventlow lasted all of three laps in the race when the engine failed. It was the result of a connecting rod breaking and did the engine no good whatsoever. Daigh managed to last 17 laps and was in 11th place when the engine started dumping its oil and he parked it before it blew. He did managed to pass Lucien Bianchi before he retired, however.
- The team staggered on to Reims. Reventlow was now seeing that this Grand Prix business was much tougher than he ever imagined. It would have been tough in cars conforming to the current rear-engined design, but to do so in what was now a dinosaur was becoming more and more unrealistic. Reventlow hired Ferrari test driver Richie Ginther to join Daigh for the race. The result was another miserable outing. The engines simply were not up to it, the spares were now virtually exhausted, and when the engine in the Ginther car blew and when Daigh suffered the same fate, the team withdraw and went back to the States to contemplate its debacle. It was not a pleasant situation. The team had, like Aston Martin, completely missed hearing the pitty-patter of the rear-engined cars as they ran past the front-engined designs to the head of the grid.
- The Scarab effort did have one last gasp. The Intercontinental Formula series which ran a few races in 1961, saw the swan song of the Scarab. The team entered the events at Goodwood and Silverstone. At Goodwood Daigh finished eighth. At Silverstone, however, the Scarab crashed heavily and Daigh was seriously injured. Although there was the possibly that the remaining Scarab would be a part of the proposed Formula 366, last minute restrictions on the stock block engines made it unattractive to many would be participants, including Reventlow, and that was that for the Scarab Grand Prix effort.