Bruce Kessler

Last updated
Bruce Kessler
Born (1936-03-23) March 23, 1936 (age 87)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Occupation(s)Film director, television director
Years active1962–1997
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 1958
TeamsPrivateer Connaught
Entries1 (0 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Career points0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1958 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry 1958 Monaco Grand Prix

Bruce Kessler (born March 23, 1936) is an American racing driver and film and television director. [1] [2] [3]


Racing career

Kessler was born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Beverly Hills, California. He was the son of a clothing designer. In the early 1950s he started racing his mother's Jaguar XK120 in the Sports Car Club of America races at sixteen years old. He raced the road race courses at Paramount Ranch and Willow Springs in California. He was a team driver along with Chuck Daigh for the Scarab race cars built by his good friend Lance Reventlow in the late 1950s.

He entered one World Championship Formula One Grand Prix (Monaco 1958) with a Connaught owned by Bernie Ecclestone, but failed to qualify, although he posted the 21st fastest time of the 28 entrants.

Kessler and Reventlow, driving Reventlow's Mercedes-Benz SL aluminum coupe had stopped at Blackwells Corner on CA Rt. 466/133 on September 30, 1955 on their way to the Salinas Road Races when James Dean and his mechanic, Rolf Wutherich pulled in with Dean's Porsche Spyder. They all agreed to meet for dinner at Paso Robles, about 60 miles away that evening. Reventlow and Kessler took off 10 minutes earlier. Dean never made it as he was involved in a fatal two-car crash at Rt. 466/41 near Cholame 30 miles away. Today, Kessler remains the last person alive who spoke with James Dean before his death. [4]

The Scarabs won the International Grand Prix at Riverside, California beating the famous driver Phil Hill in a Ferrari. Kessler was invited to Europe to drive at Le Mans.

On 22 March 1958 Kessler became class winner at "12 hour Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance for the AMOCO Trophy" (12 h Sebring), driving a Ferrari 250 GT LWB (#0773GT).

After a serious crash at the 1959 Examiner Grand Prix at Pomona, California, he spent days in a coma. Soon after, he retired from racing.

Film career

Kessler came back to California and became a film and television director. One of his earliest efforts was a short film he directed on the Scarab race car for his friend Lance Reventlow called The Sound of Speed.

As a film and television director, some of his credits include the television series The Monkees , The Flying Nun , Mission: Impossible , It Takes a Thief , Marcus Welby, M.D. , The Rockford Files , McCloud , CHiPs , The Greatest American Hero , The A-Team , Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer , Hunter and Renegade , his last directing credit.

He was a (second unit director on Howard Hawks' Red Line 7000 (1965). Kessler directed the feature films Angels from Hell (1968), Killers Three (1968), The Gay Deceivers (1969) and Simon, King of the Witches (1971) as well as several made for television films.

Kessler was also a world class skeet and trap shooter. He is now retired in Marina Del Rey, California.

Complete Formula One results


1958 Bernie Ecclestone Connaught Type B Alta Straight-4 ARG MON

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  1. The New York Times
  2. Bruce Kessler profile at The 500 Owners Association Archived February 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. Bruce Kessler profile at Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Raskin, Lee: James Dean: At Speed. David Bull Publishing, 2005. ISBN   1893618498