Vladimir de Rachevsky was born
On June, 21st, 1892
Vladimir Sergeyevich Rashevskiy was born in Dinaburg (Dvinsk, Daugavpils at present), the first racer of Russian origin who had started in American races of champcars/indycars.
Sometimes his place of birth is mistakenly considered to be Tsaritsyn (Volgograd at present), but it is wrong – his father, an officer of engineers corps of the tsar army from Chernigov Cossack family, Sergey Aleksandrovich Rashevskiy, passed his service in 1890-s namely in Dvinsk fortress where he was later promoted to lieutenant colonel. Subsequently colonel Rashevskiy died at the defence of Port-Arthur in 1904.
During the Civil war in 1919 Vladimir Rashevskiy emigrated together with his younger sister Zina who was the beloved of the Great prince Boris Vladimirovich, grandson of Tsar Alexander the II (in the same year she secondly married the prince in Genoa), finally settling in Paris in 1920. It is remarkable that his second sister – Natalya Sergeyevna Rashevskaya – did not leave together with the family, and subsequently became an actress and director of Aleksandrinsky Theater, receiving the title of the People’s Artist of RSFSR in the end of 1950-s. The discovery of tsar jewelry of the estimated value of 100 million francs (about 20 million dollars at the current rate) by Boris’s family in one of the banks of Germany has allowed maintaining a comfortable social life for Rashevskiy family in the emigration.
The welfare and way of life have possibly pushed Vladimir Rashevskiy to participation in the races – it is known about his two starts at the territory of France – on the circuits of Montlhery (L’autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry) in 1924 (I Grand Prix de l’Ouverture, race for cars with an engine of 6 liters, private Peugeot, 4th and the last two laps down from the first three finishers) and Miramas (Circuit de Miramas) in 1925 (I Grand Prix de Provence, private Rolland-Pilain A22, did not finish). Moreover, Rashevskiy was present in the entry list of Grand Prix San Sebastian of 1925 (private Ballot 2LS).
His appearance in Atlanta at the Atlantic City Speedway wooden track – at the track opening race on May, 1st, 1926 (third round of the AAA national championship) – Rashevskiy owes to Charles M. Ward, assistant of autodrome manager, who entered for the race two Bugatti cars driven by Europeans known to no one, presenting them as first-class racers (Rashevskiy was positioned as the winner of the Russian Grand Prix or the champion of Russia, and his colleague, count de Marguenat, who also performed in Miramas in 1925 driving Rolland-Pilain A22 — as a vice-champion of France), which was a traditional promoter/newspaper trick of those years. The race of Rashevskiy lasted only 11 laps, until the engine ended; the driver was classified at 15th position. Rashevskiy probably started on Bugatti somewhere else in Europe – there is a photo of him driving this car, presumably dated 1926.
It is known for certain about one more start of Rashevskiy – in the 24 hours of Spa of 1928 driving Alfa Romeo 6C 1500, paired with Luigi Chinetti, with whom he was subsequently connected by the years of friendship, but the car did not reach the finish. Vladimir Rashevskiy was also present in the entry list of 24 hours of Le Mans of 1928 with the partners Boris Ivanowski and Attilio Marinoni on Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 as a reserve entry, but they did not get the chance to start.
Generally racing activity of Vladimir Sergeyevich Rashevskiy can be characterized as performances of rich amateur who decided to try himself in the races. But on September, 6th, 1929 in New York Rashevskiy married Harriet Straus who he met in Paris in 1927, daughter of New York banker, philanthrop and the chevalier of Legion of Honor of France Chicago born Simon William Strauss, and the racing was finished. After a year of marriage the only daughter Zina Rashevskaya was born (who subsequently became an actress), and after a month after her birth Simon Strauss died, leaving the third of his fortune and additionally 100 thousand dollars to Rashevskiy family. Until his death Rashevskiy led a secular life in New York, he even was a face of Lucky Strike in 1930. In the newspapers he was stubbornly called a Prince – probably because of the Great prince Boris, his sister’s husband, however Vladimir Rashevskiy himself denied owning such title from time to time. Vladimir Rashevskiy died in Paris in 1967 (according to other sources – in New York), leaving a widow who survived him for 25 years.
It is worth to note that there exists a great confusion with spelling of Rashevskiy last name – he appears as Vladimir Rakowski, Vladimir Racowsky and R. De Rachevsky in the reports from European races, as Baron de Rachewsky and Baron Vladimir de Rechewsky in American racing statistics, in the entry lists of the race of 1926 – as Baron Vladimar de Rachewesky, in the press of 1920-s – 1930-s he was called Baron Rachowesky, Vladimir de Rachesky and even Vladimar de Racowsky, but the most often his last name was transliterated as Rachevsky, and this is exactly the last name borne by his daughter Zina, and Rashevskiy himself signed as Vladimir de Rachevsky.