Foxhall Parker Keene

 In Drivers

Foxhall P Keene’s father once staked $100,000, inviting challengers willing to take on and defeat his son in any of 10 different sports. There was no takers. He was proficient in polo, equestrian riding, football, shooting and golf just to name a few. He was also a Wall Street broker at some point.

His father, James R Keene, a native of England, initially made a fortune in the Nevada silver mines, then won and lost huge sums in the stock market.

Like so many other scions with more money than sense, Keene was drawn to the pioneering days of automobile racing. In 1901, he spent $14,000 on a Mors sports car for the Paris-Berlin race. Two years later, driving a Mercedes in the Gordon Bennett Cup he realized there was a crack in the axel but kept going for 100 more miles anyway. “It was as much like sitting on a box of dynamite as anything I’ve ever tried,” said Keene. “But it was a pity I had to withdraw as really I had not begun to let myself out.”

Eventually, his louche lifestyle caught up him when he made ill-advised investments and his father wrote him out of his will. By the time he fetched up at his sister’s estate in Ayer’s Cliff, Canada in the 1930s, he was carrying a single suitcase that contained all he owned in the world. The thoroughbreds were gone. The fast cars and the mansion too. Broke and alone, there was nothing left but to write a rollicking memoir called Full Tilt.

On September 25, 1941 death came to a lonely, penniless 71-year-old man in a cottage on an estate near the village of Ayer’s Cliff in the province of Quebec. His body bore the marks and scars of 17 serious injuries sustained in a long and reckless career.


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