George Arents' great uncle was Major Lewis Ginter, one of the founders of the Allen & Ginter Tobacco Company. In the 1880s, Allen & Ginter made a variety of colorful sport and non-sport cards sold with their tobacco products. These cards have become highly collectable. Allen & Ginter was one of the 5 original companies that combined to form the American Tobacco Company in 1890. Lewis Ginter died in 1897 leaving an estate of $7-8 million.
George Arents, George Arents,Jr.'s father, was the nephew of Major Ginter and for many years treasurer of the American Tobacco Company. George Arents died in 1918 leaving an estate of $10 million with one-third going to his son George Arents, Jr.
George Arents, Jr. studied at Columbia University and later received a MA from Syracuse University at the age of 57. He acquired his wealth from his father's and great-uncle's connections with the American Tobacco Company and by co-owning the parent patent on a cigar-making machine with Rufus Patterson in 1900.
The 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race
At the age of 29, he participated in the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race held on Long Island. It was the first international road race ever conducted in the United States. During the race, he was involved in an accident in which his Mercedes overturned resulting in the death of his driving mechanic Carl Mensel. After several weeks of recuperation, George Arents, Jr. recovered from his injuries.
Arents' Life After Racing
From 1896 to 1905 he was connected with the American Tobacco Company. After the death of his father in 1918, George Arents, Jr. became known as George Arents. In 1922, he became a director and from 1924 the treasurer of both the American Machine and Foundry and International Cigar Machinery, a subsidiary. He is considered one of the founders of the American Machine and Foundry. He continued as a treasurer of both companies until 1937 and remained thereafter as a director.
George Arents died in December 1960 at the age of 85 leaving an estate of well over $3 million including gifts of $2 million to Syracuse University and $1 million to the New York Public Library as well as his extensive library of published material on tobacco. A bulk of his estate went to his son George Arents, III. His son raced Ferraris at many races including Bridgehampton Track on Long Island in the 1960s. Besides his personal racing "hobby" his most important contribution to motor racing is founding and funding the North American Racing Team with Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti and Jan de Vroom in 1956. Chinetti ran it and Arents and de Vroom supplied the funding. NART raced with much success all over the world until '70 or '71 including winning Le Mans in 1965.