In Memoriam: Bruce Kessler

Bruce Kessler died on April, 4. He marked his 88th birthday on March 23 and was a lifelong adventurer as a professional racer, successful Hollywood director and one of the first Americans to circumnavigate the globe with a motoryacht. He was born in Seattle , Washington and spent his youth in Beverly Hills, California. His father was a clothing designer and in the early 1950’s he started racing his mother’s Jaguar XK 120 in races of the Sports Car Club of America. He often raced at Paramount Ranch and Willow Springs and he became a team driver with Chuck Daigh for the Scarabs of his friend Lance Reventlow in the late 1950s.

In Memoriam: Bruce Kessler

He entered the Formula 1 Championship Grand Prix in Monaco in 1958 with a Connaught owned by Bernie Ecclestone and he and Reventlow were driving a Mercedes Benz Aluminium Coupe on September 30, 1955 to Salinas Road Races. They stopped at Blackwells Corner on CA Rt. 466/133 , where the met James Dean and mechanic Rolf Wütherich with their Porsche Spyder. They all agreed to meet for a dinner at Paso Robles on that evening and Reventlow and Kessler took off 10 minutes earlier. James Dean never made it, because he was involved in a fatal car crash little later and Bruce Kessler remained the last person alive who spoke with James Dean before his death.

The Scarabs won the International Grand Prix at Riverside , even beating the famous Phil Hill in his Ferrari and therefore Kessler was invited to drive in Europe at LeMans with a Ferrari in 1958 at the age of 22. After a serious crash in 1959 at Pomona he spent days in a coma and retired from racing.

Bruce Kessler also left his mark as a successful Hollywood director with the iconic film called „ The Sound Of Speed”, which was the US entry in its category at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1962. And he was one of the first Americans to circumnavigate the globe as captain of a motoryacht. He was never more at home than when he was aboard his boat at sea or in port. Over his lifetime, he logged over 100,000 nautical miles as captain of his own cruising boats.

Bruce Kessler is a very sad loss. He lived life to its fullest. Our condolences go out to his family.

Photos & Credit: Charles Fawcett, The Henry Ford Collection/Archive , Scarab Motorsports, Soundings Online, Milt Baker, Wikipedia


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