Frank Sytner

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Frank Sytner (born 29 June 1944 in Liverpool) is a British racing driver,[1] a Life Member of the BRDC, and was the 1988 British Touring Car Champion, driving a BMW M3. He also won his class in 1990.

Racing career[edit]

He started racing in the early 1970s in Formula Ford and later became known for racing in the Clubmans formula for front-engined sports cars, before moving into Touring Cars in the 1980s. As a successful BMW dealer[2] with a chain of dealerships it was natural that he should gravitate towards their products, however he started his BTCC career driving for Tom Walkinshaw's TWR team, which was running the Rover SD1 Vitesse. However, Sytner and Walkinshaw fell out and Frank abruptly left the team halfway through his first season.[3] Sytner joined the BMW team, fielding the 635 model run by Ted Grace Racing.[4] It was Sytner who protested the legality of the TWR Rovers in 1983, an action which eventually cost Steve Soper the championship that season.[5] Sytner entered a semi-works BMW 635 in 1984, running under the Sytner Racing banner and finished second in class to Andy Rouse.

Sytner took a year out in 1986, but returned in 1987, having joined Prodrive who had taken over the factory BMW contract, running the BMW M3. Success was immediate, with several wins, before taking the BTCC title outright in 1988. Sytner won his class, the new look 2.0 litre super touring formula, and came second overall in 1990, despite strong competition from 1989 champion John Cleland in the works Vauxhall Cavalier. The two even had a controversial collision at the Birmingham Superprix late in the season.[6] Sytner's final season was 1991, which saw him retire from the sport at the end of the year to concentrate on his car dealership.[7]

He moved into historic car racing in the 1990s, in both sports cars and historic Formula One cars - he is particularly known these days for his exploits in a Penske.[8]

Frank is nicknamed Fearless for his uncompromising style on track.

Business ventures[edit]

Together with his brother Alan Sytner, who at one time owned the Cavern Club in Liverpool[9] Frank founded his first car dealership in Nottingham in 1968, specialising in BMWs. Sytner BMW was the first dealership in the UK to market the Alpina brand when it was given an exclusive contract in the early 1980s. Throughout the 1990s, Sytner expanded his business through acquisitions and shrewd investments. He now owns around 45 dealerships in total, selling Jeep, Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus among other prestige marques.[10]

He underwent heart bypass surgery in May 2006.[11]

Frank suffered a suspected heart attack while racing a Lola at the Donington Historic Festival on 30 April 2011.[12]

Racing record[edit]

Complete British Saloon / Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position – 1982–1990 in class) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap – 1 point awarded ?–1989 in class)

Year Team Car Class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 DC Pts Class
1982 Team Sanyo Racing with Esso Rover 3500 S A SIL
Ret
MAL
9†
OUL
DNS†
THR
Ret
THR SIL DON BRH DON BRH SIL 40th 0 12th
1983 Grace International Racing BMW 625CSi A SIL OUL THR BRH THR SIL
3
DON
2
SIL
DSQ
DON
Ret
BRH SIL
Ret
16th 10 7th
1984 Sytner BMW Racing with GSi BMW 635GSi A DON
5
SIL
3
OUL
7
THR
4
THR
5
SIL
3
SNE
2
BRH
Ret
BRH
6
DON
3
SIL
3
11th 30 2nd
1985 Sytner BMW Racing with GSi BMW 635GSi A SIL
1
OUL
Ret
THR
4
DON
4
THR SIL
2
DON
6
SIL
Ret
SNE
3
BRH BRH
4
SIL
Ret
11th 30 4th
1987 Prodrive BMW M3 B SIL OUL THR THR SIL SIL
3
BRH
Ret
SNE DON
1
OUL
Ret
DON
2
SIL 11th 32 3rd
1988 BMW Finance Racing with Mobil 1 BMW M3 B SIL
4
OUL
6
THR
5
DON
7
THR
13
SIL
11
SIL
8
BRH
7
SNE
9
BRH
8
BIR
C
DON
11
SIL
7
1st 103 1st
1989 BMW Team Finance BMW M3 B OUL
10
SIL
Ret
THR
7
DON
6
THR
19
SIL
Ret
SIL
15
BRH
11
SNE
13
BRH
9
BIR
12
DON
13
SIL
11
6th 70 2nd
1990 BMW Team Finance BMW M3 B OUL
6
DON
6
THR
9
SIL
6
OUL
8
SIL
Ret
BRH
4
SNE
7
BRH
8
BIR
Ret
DON
7
THR
10
SIL
8
2nd 180 1st
1991 Pyramid Motorsport BMW M3 SIL
DNS
SNE
5
DON
3
THR
Ret
SIL
61
BRH
8
SIL
10
DON
1

Ret
DON
2

DNS
OUL BRH
1

9
BRH
2

7
DON
Ret
THR SIL 12th 26
  1. ^ – Race was stopped due to heavy rain. No points were awarded.

† Events with 2 races staged for the different classes.

‡ Endurance driver.

References[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Chris Hodgetts
British Touring Car Champion
1988
Succeeded by
John Cleland