Frank Gardner (racing driver)

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For other people with the same name, see Frank Gardner.
Frank Gardner
Born (1931-10-01)1 October 1931
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 29 August 2009(2009-08-29) (aged 78)
Mermaid Waters, Queensland, Australia
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Australia Australian
Active years 1964 – 1965, 1968
Teams non-works Brabham, BRM
Entries 9 (8 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1964 British Grand Prix
Last entry 1968 Italian Grand Prix

Frank Gardner OAM (1 October 1931 – 29 August 2009) was a racing driver from Australia. Born in Sydney, he was best known as a Touring car racing and Sports car racing driver but he was also a top flight open wheeler driver. He was European F5000 champion, and participated in nine World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 11 July 1964. He scored no championship points. Gardner also participated in numerous non-Championship Formula One races and his results included a third placing at the 1965 Mediterranean Grand Prix at the Autodromo di Pergusa in Sicily, fourth in the 1965 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and third in the 1971 International Gold Cup at Oulton Park. He participated each year in the open wheeler Tasman Series held in New Zealand and Australia during the European winter, and shared the grids with the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt.

Career[edit]

Gardner was born in 1931, not 1930 as is often quoted. He changed his date of birth on documents which permitted the under-age Gardner to gain a racing licence.[citation needed] He sailed to England late in 1958 following his ownership of a Mobilgas service station in Avalon on Sydney's northern beaches, and a successful career driving Jaguar XK120s, a C-Type (XKC037) and D-Type (XKD520). Both latter cars were insurance write-offs and repaired by Gardner and his friends.

Unlike most racing drivers, Gardner was born into a very poor family. His father moved the large family to Ulladulla on the south coast of New South Wales where he was a fisherman. When his father was killed after being hit by a drunk driver, Gardner went to live with his unmarried uncle Hope Bartlett – a legend in Australia and New Zealand as a racing driver and golfer.

Bartlett put Gardner under his guidance and brought him up to be an automotive engineer. Gardner always preferred engineering cars to driving, and went to England to join Jaguar, but dislked the Midlands in the middle of winter. Subsequently he joined Aston Martin as a racing mechanic.

He was a member of the team which won Le Mans in 1959. Gardner told team boss John Wyer he needed to run a Colotti gearbox. Wyer was affronted by the young 'colonial', but swapped the gearbox on one of the cars – and it won – while the other broke down.

He joined the Jim Russell Driving School where he prepared the cars, then became the 'star pupil driver' because he was unknown in England as a driver. He was later the first person employed by Jack Brabham in the new MRD F1 racing team — soon to become Brabham.

In 1966 Gardner finished second in the 1000 km Spa round of the International Manufacturers Championship. In 1967 he also finished second in the European Trophy for Formula 2 Drivers and second in the British Autocar Formula Two Championship. In 1970 he was fourth in the European Formula 5000 Championship and then won the championship the following year.

He won his class at Le Mans in 1961 sharing a works Lotus Elite with David Hobbs.

Gardner also travelled to the United States and drove in the Sports Car Club of America's newly established Trans-Am Series in 1966, finishing the last race of the inaugural season at the Riverside International Raceway 4 hour race in 4th place outright and winning the Under 2L division driving a Lotus Cortina. Gardner was among a number of Australians who drove in the early years of the Trans-Am, including Allan Moffat, Harry Firth and Horst Kwech. In 1968 he had his first and only NASCAR start at Rockingham driving a Ford.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Gardner had two second-place finishes in the Australian Grand Prix – in 1966 at Lakeside behind Graham Hill and 1972 at Sandown behind Graham McRae. In between there was a third in 1967 at Warwick Farm in his home town of Sydney behind British Formula One champion Jim Clark and future champion Jackie Stewart.

Gardner finished third in the 1967 and 1972 Tasman Series. He won the British Saloon Car Championship title on three occasions, 1967 (Ford Falcon Sprint), 1968 (Ford Cortina Lotus & Ford Escort) and 1973 (Chevrolet Camaro), and was runner-up in 1970 (Ford Mustang Boss 302). In 1975 he finished second in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst with Bob Morris in a Holden Torana SL/R 5000 L34.

Gardner won the 1972 New Zealand Grand Prix, which was run under Tasman Formula regulations (which incorporated Formula 5000 cars) and was the first round of the 1972 Tasman Series, at Pukekohe driving a Lola T300-Chevrolet. He was extremely proud of winning the New Zealand title because Bartlett had won it in the 1930s.

Return to Australia[edit]

Gardner at 1969 1000km Nürburgring with Porsche 917

After returning full-time to Australia in the mid-1970s Gardner won the 1977 Australian Sports Sedan Championship driving a highly modified Chevrolet Corvair. That championship victory led into a team management role when he retired from full-time driving. After running the Allan Grice Touring Car and Sports Sedan team in the late 70s, it rolled into a factory touring car preparation for BMW in the Australian Touring Car Championship, a team he would run from the programs toe in the water inception with a BMW 318i turbo Sports Sedan in 1980 all the way until 1987 when Gardner decided to retire from motorsport and close the JPS Team BMW after allegedly becoming fed up with the politics involved after his protest against the Eggenberger Motorsport Ford Sierra RS500s at the 1987 James Hardie 1000 which had become a round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship. However, when asked about this in 1988, Gardner dismissed the notion saying instead that he had been unwell and simply needed a break.

Gardner's last competitive drive was to be as co-driver with JPS Team lead driver Jim Richards in the team's Group C spec BMW 635 CSi in the 1983 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst. After Richards qualified the car in a brilliant 4th place in Hardies Heroes, the black and gold BMW was suddenly seen as a dark horse for the race. However, race day was a disaster for the team. On lap 3 the BMW suddenly slowed and Richards headed for the pits where the team found metal filings in the fuel system. The car only did another 4 laps before being retied from the race. Gardner would later claim that he believed the car had been sabotaged although he did not know by who and wouldn't speculate on the reason, though the car not being Australian made and its cigarette sponsorship were popular theories at the time. However, as the cigarette sponsored Holden Dealer Team (Marlboro) and Allan Moffat's Mazda team (Peter Stuyvesant) who finished Bathurst in first and second respectively were not targeted, some felt the car being European was a more likely reason. At the time, the long held Holden and Ford V8 domination of Group C touring car racing in Australia was under serious threat with factory backed teams from foreign manufacturers the likes of the European BMW, and Japanese marques Mazda and Nissan, and this was unpopular with not only the fans, but some within the sport itself. The claim of sabotage is actually disputed by Jim Richards and the team's chief mechanic Pip Baker who believe that the dirty fuel could have been a combination of things.

Following the 1983 Bathurst 1000, Gardner was not only the team manager but also the main test driver for JPS Team BMW. This was because the team itself was based in Sydney (doing almost all of its testing at Amaroo Park) while the team's drivers Richards and (from 1984) Tony Longhurst lived in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast respectively. It is estimated that Gardner completed more time driving the various 635 CSi's and M3's than either Richards or Longhurst.

Following his sudden retirement at the end of 1987, JPS Team BMW was replaced as BMW Australia's team by Peter Brock's former Holden Dealer Team operation, although that relationship ended after a single season in which the BMW M3 had become uncompetitive against the increasingly powerful and numerous Sierra's. During his time as leader of JPS Team BMW, the team won the 1985 and 1987 Australian Touring Car Championships with Jim Richards, driving first a 635 CSi and then an M3. Richards also won the 1985 and 1986 Australian Endurance Championships as well as the 1985 AMSCAR Series at Amaroo Park while Longhurst won the AMSCAR in 1986 and 1987. Richards and Longhurst also teamed to win the 1985 Castrol 500 at Sandown Raceway in the 635 CSi with their team mates Neville Crichton and on-loan Nissan driver George Fury finishing 2nd.

JPS team driver Tony Longhurst decided to form his own team, Tony Longhurst Racing, for 1988, running a Ford Sierra RS500, with Gardner acting as a 'consultant', although it was generally accepted that he and Longhurst shared the team manager duties. Gardner finally won the Bathurst 1000 in 1988 when Longhurst and Tomas Mezera won in their Benson & Hedges sponsored Sierra. The team continued to run the Fords through 1989 and 1990. During 1990 it was generally believed that the Benson & Hedges Sierra's were the fastest and most powerful Group A touring cars in the world. This was confirmed at the 1990 Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst when Longurst broke George Fury's 1984 Hardies Heroes lap record with a 2:13.84 lap in Friday's qualifying session, the 590 bhp (440 kW; 598 PS) Sierra reportedly topping 295 km/h (183 mph) on the 1.3 kilometres (0.81 mi) long Conrod Straight. Unfortunately for the Gardner-led team, race results weren't as forthcoming with the only wins being in 1988 and later in the Amaroo Park based AMSCAR series.

When BMW returned to the Australian championship in 1991 with its upgraded BMW M3 Evolution model, it was with Longhurst Racing with Gardner at the helm with 1980 Formula One World Champion Alan Jones driving the teams 2nd car. The factory BMW team continued with Gardner at the helm until 1998 (switching to Supertouring cars in 1994), winning the 1994 (with Longhurst), 1995 and 1997 (with Paul Morris) Super Touring titles.

Other activities[edit]

Gardner had a passion for road driver training and had commenced to do that at Bob Jane's Calder Race Track in Melbourne. In 1990 he founded his own Performance Driving Centre between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Queensland and was awarded the Order of Australia (the equivalent of a knighthood in the UK) for his services to motor racing. Before taking up motor racing he had been an unbeaten boxer and champion surf life saver (he was Captain of the Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney and also participated in South Africa). Gardner reportedly could have also been a professional golfer and was also a motorcycle racer.

Gardner was an intelligent engineer as well as an accomplished racing driver, which helped him in both his racing career and as a team owner and manager. He was also a brilliant public speaker and could hold a crowd with his fund of hilarious and often risque stories about his own experiences and other drivers and characters within motor racing.

In 1973 Patrick Stephens Ltd., published a book penned by Gardner entitled "Racing Drivers Manual" in collaboration with Castrol Oils Ltd. This book was a mixture of useful advice for the budding racing driver punctuated by Gardner's autobiographical recollections of his early life and many racing experiences.

In 1980, Gardner published a book titled Drive to Survive. It is still in print 25 years later.[1]

Death[edit]

Gardner, who had raced during an era when safety wasn't a big concern for the drivers and where many of his fellow drivers (including a number of close friends such as World Champion Jim Clark) were killed in racing accidents, had always maintained that he didn't care if he wasn't the fastest driver, he just wanted to be the oldest. He died in his home at Mermaid Waters in Queensland on 29 August 2009 at the age of 78 following a long battle with illness associated with his racing and engineering career.

He left behind his former model wife Gloria and a son and daughter.

Career results[edit]

A summary of some of Gardner's motor racing achievements:

Season Series Position Car Team / Entrant
1957 Australian Drivers' Championship 15th Jaguar C-Type F Gardner
1964 Tasman Series 11th Brabham BT6 Ford Alec Mildren Racing
1964 British Saloon Car Championship 11th Ford Cortina Lotus John Willment Automobiles
1965 Tasman Series 4th Brabham BT11A Climax FPF Alec Mildren Racing
1965 Trophées de France [2] 4th Cooper T75 BRM
Lola T60 BRM & Lola T60 Cosworth SCA
Tyrrell Racing Organisation
Midland Racing Partnership
1965 British Saloon Car Championship 5th Ford Cortina Lotus Race Proved by Willment
1966 Tasman Series 5th Brabham BT11A Climax FPF Alec Mildren Racing
1966 Trophées de France [3] 16th Lola Ford Cosworth Midland Racing Partnership
1967 Tasman Series 2nd Brabham BT16 Climax FPF Alec Mildren Racing
1967 European Trophy for Formula 2 Drivers [4] 2nd Brabham BT23 & BT23C Ford Cosworth FVA Motor Racing Developments
1967 R.A.C. British F2 Championship [4] 6th Brabham BT23 Ford Cosworth FVA Motor Racing Developments
1967 Autocar British F2 Championship [4] 2nd Brabham BT23 Ford Cosworth FVA Motor Racing Developments
1967 British Saloon Car Championship 1st Ford Falcon Sprint Alan Mann Racing
1968 Tasman Series 4th Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Alec Mildren Racing
1968 European Touring Car Challenge [5] 3rd – Div 2 Ford Cortina Lotus & Ford Escort Mk.I Twin Cam Alan Mann Racing
1968 British Saloon Car Championship 1st Ford Cortina Lotus & Ford Escort Mk.I Twin Cam Alan Mann Racing
1969 Tasman Series 5th Mildren Mono Alfa Romeo Alec Mildren Racing
1969 British Saloon Car Championship 3rd Ford Escort Mk.I Twin Cam Alan Mann Racing
1970 Guards European Formula 5000 Championship [6] 4th Lola T190 Chevrolet Motor Racing Research
1970 British Saloon Car Championship 2nd Ford Mustang Boss 302 Motor Racing Research
1971 Tasman Series 4th Lola T192 Chevrolet Lola Race Cars
1971 Rothmans European Formula 5000 Championship [7] 1st Lola T192 Chevrolet
Lola T300 Chevrolet
Lola Race Cars
1972 Tasman Series 3rd Lola T300 Chevrolet Lola Race Cars
1972 Rothmans European Formula 5000 Championship 10th Lola T330 Chevrolet Lola Cars
1972 British Saloon Car Championship 3rd Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SCA Freight Ltd.
1973 British Saloon Car Championship 1st Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SCA European Road Services
1976 Australian Touring Car Championship 24th Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 Gown-Hindhaugh [8]
1976 Australian Sports Sedan Championship 2nd Chevrolet Corvair John Player Racing
1977 Australian Sports Sedan Championship 1st Chevrolet Corvair John Player Racing

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1962 United Kingdom Team Lotus Engineering United Kingdom David Hobbs Lotus Elite Mk14-Coventry Climax GT 1.3 286 8th 1st
1963 United Kingdom Team Elite United Kingdom John Coundley Lotus Elite Mk14-Coventry Climax GT 1.3 167 DNF DNF
1966 United Kingdom Alan Mann Racing Ltd. United Kingdom John Whitmore Ford GT40 Mk.II P +5.0 31 DNF DNF
1967 United States Holman & Moody United States Roger McCluskey Ford GT40 Mk.IIB P +5.0 179 DNF DNF
1969 United Kingdom Alan Mann Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Malcolm Guthrie Ford GT40 Mk.I S 5.0 42 DNF DNF

Complete British Saloon Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap.)

Year Team Car Class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pos. Pts Class
1963 John Willment Automobiles Ford Cortina GT B SNE OUL GOO AIN SIL
?
CRY SIL BRH BRH OUL SIL 2
1964 John Willment Automobiles Ford Cortina Lotus B SNE
5
GOO
4
OUL AIN
5
SIL
?
CRY
3†
BRH
DNS
OUL 11th 16
1965 John Willment Automobiles Ford Cortina Lotus C BRH
Ret
OUL
3
SNE
4
GOO
4
SIL
5
CRY
4†
BRH
4
OUL
Ret
5th 34 2nd
1967 Alan Mann Racing Ford Falcon Sprint D BRH
1
SNE
2
SIL
2
SIL
1
MAL
1†
SIL
1
SIL
1
BRH
Ret
OUL
1†
BRH
1
1st 70 1st
1968 Alan Mann Racing Ford Cortina Lotus Mk 2 C BRH
3
THR
3
SIL
4
1st 84 1st
Ford Escort TC CRY
2†
MAL
2†
BRH
1
SIL
4
CRO
4
OUL
4
BRH
4
BRH
1
1969 Alan Mann Racing Ford Escort TC D BRH
3
SIL
1
SNE
3
THR
2
SIL
13
CRY
1†
MAL
Ret†
CRO
2
SIL
12
OUL
2
BRH
Ret
BRH
1
3rd 58 1st
1970 Motor Racing Research Ford Mustang Boss 302 D BRH
1
SNE
1
THR
1
SIL
1
CRY
1†
SIL
12
SIL
3
CRO
1
BRH
2
OUL
1
BRH
1
BRH 2nd 68 1st
1971 SCA Freight Ltd. Chevrolet Camaro Z28 D BRH SNE THR SIL
2
CRY SIL
1
CRO
1
SIL
Ret
OUL
3
BRH MAL BRH
Ret
1972 SCA Freight Ltd. Chevrolet Camaro Z28 D BRH
1
OUL
2
THR
1
SIL
1
CRY
7†
BRH
1
OUL
1
SIL
Ret
MAL
1†
BRH
1
3rd 54 1st
1973 SCA European Road Services Chevrolet Camaro Z28 D BRH
1
SIL
3
THR
1
THR
1
SIL
1
ING
1
BRH
1†
SIL
Ret
BRH
3
1st 60 1st

† Events with 2 races staged for the different classes.

Complete Tasman Series results[edit]

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pos. Pts
1964 Alec Mildren Racing Pty Ltd Brabham BT6 Ford 116E 1.5 L4 LEV PUK WIG TER SAN
10
WAR
13
LAK
4
LON
9
11 3
1965 Alec Mildren Racing Pty Ltd Brabham BT11A Climax FPF 1.5 L4 PUK
2
LEV
2
WIG
4
TER WAR
Ret
SAN
Ret
LON
8
4th 15
1966 Alec Mildren Racing Pty Ltd Brabham BT11A Climax FPF 1.5 L4 PUK
Ret
LEV
Ret
WIG
Ret
TER
2
WAR
3
LAK
2
SAN
5
LON
6
5th 18 (19)
1967 Alec Mildren Racing Pty Ltd Brabham BT16 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 PUK
DNS
LEV WIG
4
TER LAK
3
WAR
3
SAN
3
LON
4
2nd 18
1968 Alec Mildren Racing Pty Ltd Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8 PUK
2
LEV
Ret
WIG
Ret
TER
3
SUR
9
WAR
Ret
SAN
4
LON
3
4th 17
1969 Alec Mildren Racing Mildren Mono Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8 PUK
Ret
LEV
3
WIG
Ret
TER
4
LAK
Ret
WAR
3
SAN
4
6th 14
1971 Lola Cars Ltd Lola T192 Chevrolet 5.0 V8 LEV PUK
Ret
WIG
4
TER
Ret
WAR
1
SAN
Ret
SUR
2
4th 18
1972 Lola Cars Limited Lola T300 Chevrolet 5.0 V8 PUK
1
LEV
Ret
WIG TER SUR
2
WAR
2
SAN
2
AIR 3rd 27

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 WDC Pts
1964 John Willment Automobiles Brabham BT10 Ford 109E 1.5 L4 MON NED BEL FRA GBR
Ret
GER AUT ITA USA MEX NC 0
1965 John Willment Automobiles Brabham BT11 BRM P56 1.5 V8 RSA
12
MON
Ret
BEL
Ret
FRA GBR
8
NED
11
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA MEX NC 0
1968 Bernard White Racing BRM P261 BRM P142 3.0 V12 RSA ESP MON BEL NED FRA GBR GER ITA
DNQ
CAN USA MEX NC 0

Complete European Formula Two Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pos. Pts
1967 Motor Racing Developments Brabham BT23 Cosworth FVA SNE
Ret
SIL
6†
NÜR
12
HOC
1
TUL
4†
JAR
10†
ZAN
3
PER
9
BRH
4†
VAL
4
2nd 43
1968 The Chequered Flag McLaren M4A Cosworth FVA HOC THR JAR PAL
DNS
TUL
8
ZAN PER HOC VAL NC 0

Gardner scored more points than his finishing position as drivers who finished ahead were ineligible for points.

Complete Bathurst 500/1000 results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1968 Australia Alec Mildren Racing Australia John French Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV E NA DSQ DSQ
1974 Australia Bob Jane Racing Australia Bob Jane Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 3001 – 6000cc 7 DNF DNF
1975 Australia Ron Hodgson Racing Australia Bob Morris Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 D 161 2nd 2nd
1976 Australia Craven Mild Racing Australia Allan Grice Holden LH Torana SL/R 5000 L34 3001cc - 6000cc 72 DNF DNF
1977 Australia Craven Mild Racing Australia Allan Grice Holden LX Torana SS A9X Hatchback 3001cc - 6000cc 140 DNF DNF
1983 Australia JPS Team BMW New Zealand Jim Richards BMW 635 CSi A 6 DNF DNF

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Library of Australia Catalogue
  2. ^ Formula 2 1965 Championship Tables Retrieved from www.formula2.net on 16 August 2012
  3. ^ Formula 2 1966 Championship Tables Retrieved from www.formula2.net on 16 August 2012
  4. ^ a b c Formula 2 1967 Championship Tables Retrieved from www.formula2.net on 16 August 2012
  5. ^ 1968 European Touring Car Challenge Retrieved from touringcarracing.net on 16 August 2012
  6. ^ Anthony Pritchard, The Motor Racing Year No. 2, pages 245- 259
  7. ^ "Racing Achievements". frankgardnerracing.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  8. ^ Graham Howard & Stewart Wilson, Australian Touring Car Championship - 30 Fabulous Years, page 171
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Roberto Bussinello
Ralph Sachs
Winner of the Sandown 500
1965
(with Kevin Bartlett)
Succeeded by
Tony Roberts
Bob Watson
Preceded by
John Fitzpatrick
British Touring Car Champion
1967-1968
Succeeded by
Alec Poole
Preceded by
Peter Gethin
European Formula 5000 Champion
1971
Succeeded by
Gijs van Lennep
Preceded by
Niel Allen
Winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix
1972
Succeeded by
John McCormack
Preceded by
Bill McGovern
British Touring Car Champion
1973
Succeeded by
Bernard Unett