Revson paid the mechanic and his own expenses but got 25% of all starting money, which varied from �100 to �600 a race, and a quarter of all prize money. The prize money share was academic. Just getting the starting money was tough enough.
In a race at Syracuse, Italy that season, Revson had fired up the car, charged away—and spun out before completing even one lap. At the postrace party Parnell was all charm toward the promoter, a swarthy man with an enormous swarthy daughter. Parnell brought the daughter over to meet Revson, the handsome young American, and it was very clear that Revson was expected to save the day, even if it meant eloping with the daughter. "We started dancing," he recalled, "and she was a big, big girl. A huge girl. I could just about see around her and every time I'd swing in a certain direction I'd see Parnell glowering at me. Every time I'd grab her hand to walk her away from the dance floor, he would come over and glower some more, so I'd ask her to dance again. All night long I was under the gun. I was dancing with that broad until I was ready to drop."
But the next day Tim Parnell walked into the promoter's office and collected the starting money.
Revson's stature as a driver continued to grow and in 1967, in addition to racing the Grand Prix circuit, he signed on the Cougar team for the Trans-Am Championship series as the third driver behind Parnelli Jones and Dan Gurney. The Trans-Am Cougar team contract provided for $500 a race and all the prize money, and it turned out that far from being the third man on the team, Revson drove most of the races and won two of them, twice as many as Jones or Gurney.
The Cougars were prepared by a shrewd veteran of Southern stock-car racing; slow-speaking, sleepy-eyed and about as mild as a raging wolverine. In the great tradition of stock-car racing, this gentleman didn't consider himself confined by the rules. Revson first encountered his enterprising, freewheeling approach at Lime Rock, a race Revson won.
Trans-Am cars had to conform to a weight minimum and they were put on the scales before a race to make sure they did. Revson's car had made the weight exactly and had been pushed back into the pits for a tire change when Revson wandered up. Seeing the crew members removing a wheel and hoping to establish himself right from the beginning of the racing season as a helpful driver, Revson bent over to lift one. He couldn't budge it. The boss-man had seen to it that the Cougar conformed to the weight minimum all right—but with sand-filled tires off the car it was somewhat lighter.
Just when the realization of why the wheel and tire wouldn't leave the ground hit Revson, he heard a soft Southern voice at his shoulder. "Leave it alone, boy. You do the drivin', we'll do the preparin'." As long as he was with Cougar, Revson never came near the working pits again.
Revson remembers those Trans-Am racing days as the sweetest. He also remembers, but does not talk about, a moment in 1967. Revson and a friend changed from their dinner suits to go to the funeral for Douglas. Afterward, the friend drove him to Bryar Motorsport Park in New Hampshire, where, expressionless, Revson won the second race in a row for the Cougar racing team.
REVSON: My own plans at this point are to continue for a couple of years and try to win the Indianapolis 500 and the world championship. But if I don't do it in the next two or three years, I won't do it at all, and it would be time to give it up. At this point in my life the reason I'm racing is to be a winner. And if I'm not going to be a winner this year or next I'm going to quit. Finishing fourth or third or second is not worthwhile; I've done that. I don't want to go on as a journeyman. Racing won't accept me as that much longer. Racing only accepts you if you're improving or if you are a winner. But if you have established that you're not going to be a winner, you're finished. In this business people pay for winners or they pay for potential.
To me, success is not measured by money or the material things you have but rather by what you're accomplishing. For some people, it's the result that counts, style means nothing. But style is very important. It is the manner in which you conduct yourself, the way you handle your life. I would hope my style says I'm a gentleman.