A Miami based Englishman who won the British F3 Champioship in 1976. He raced in 37 F1 Grand Prix between 1977 and 1982 driving for Hesketh, Surtees, Arrows, Williams and March. He spent two years trying to break into Indy cars before driving in the World Sports Car Championship for three years.
Rupert Keegan was born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. His father, Mike Keegan, was an extrovert owner of an airline company, BKS Air Transport. He had started out in the aviation business building Wellington bombers at Vickers and later flew an ex-RAF Dakota in the Berlin airlift. He eventually bought a number of other airlines including British Air Ferries.
Keegan was quite good but perhaps not quite as good as his father believed. He started his career with a win first time out in a Ford Escort Mexico in 1973 and quickly moved into Formula Ford where, by late in 1974 he had started to win races despite a tendency to fall off rather regularly.
His father bought Hawke Racing Cars and there was talk that Mike would fund the construction of an F1 car to be designed by Adrian Reynard. The F1 project never materialised however Reynard did design a Hawke F3 car.
For 1975 Rupert moved up to Formula 3 with the ex-Henton March 743 but once again his season was punctuated with crashes, including a fairly big one at Thruxton.
Keegan stayed with March in 1976 and things changed dramatically, with Rupert winning nine rounds of the BP championship and the title, earning himself the reputation as a junior James Hunt.
He briefly tried his hand at Formula 2 in a Chevron but in 1977 was offered a seat with the fading Hesketh team debuting on May 8, 1977. The car was uncompetetive and although he qualified for every race he entered, he had nothing to show for it at the end of the season.
For 1978 it was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire as he joined the ailing Surtees team.
He then decided to switch to the Aurora AFX British Formula 1 Championship with Charles Clowes Racing, running an Arrows A1. He won the title and in 1980 tried to make a comeback in the World Championship with a RAM Racing Williams.
In 1982 he made a final attempt to get back into F1 with the Rothmans March.
In 1983 he teamed up with former Hesketh team-mate Guy Edwards to race a Skoal Bandit Porsche 956 and finished fifth at Le Mans. After three seasons in sportscars Keegan decided to go to America and try his hand at CART. He took part in a handful of races with the Machinists Union team and then faded from the international scene. Keegan quit to pursue business interests and to also work as a racing instructor.
In 1995, at the age of forty, he made a surprise reappearance on the track, driving a Lister Storm at Le Mans with Geoff Lees and Dominic Chappell.
He now lives in Miami, Florida