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RIP Frank Gardner


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#1 Catalina Park

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 03:01

I just received a phone call from Ray Bell saying that Frank Gardner has passed away.

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#2 David Shaw

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 03:05

Very sad. Very versatile driver and one of those to follow Jack's path to Europe. Became a very good team manager after retiring.

#3 haggis

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 03:24

Sad news. RIP

#4 Torston

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:17

Sad to report that we have lost another one of the great drivers and identities.
Frank Gardner passed away on Friday night after a long illness. He will be widely missed.

#5 chequer57

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:27

Just read that on the CAMS Website will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

http://www.cams.com....nk-Gardner.aspx

#6 eldougo

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 05:23

Just heard the sad news myself . Frank was a GREAT boss when i worked with him many years ago. Now there is a man who has lived life to the FULL and more. He was always hitting you with joke and one liners i only saw him get mad once .I will surely miss having a quick chat ,because frank was always busy . I treasure the books he signed for me and the wonderfull reference he gave me when i left him at JPS.
RIP dear friend.

#7 Ian G

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:09

SAD ..RIP



#8 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:17

Very sad indeed...what a driver! I can see him now hustling XOO 349F around Snetterton, brilliant in F5000.
RIP Frank.

#9 Andrew Fellowes

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:42

How very sad, many Silverstone memories too, I treasure the compliment he gave me one day, RIP

#10 David McKinney

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 06:50

What news to wake up to - there'll never be his like again

I guess his name evokes different memories for different people. To the F1 stats-keepers he'll be just another name near the bottom of the list. To many British race followers, as Andrew has already mentioned, he was a saloon champion with many successes over the years. I remember him for his many New Zealand visits, first in Alec Mildren's yellow cars, and later in works F5000 Lolas. I always felt he showed his skill more in some of these events than in Northern Hemisphere racing - especially at Levin, where he could, and did, outrun the F1 aces such as Clark, Stewart and McLaren

Above all we'll miss his story-telling

Condolences to his family and many friends

#11 Gary Davies

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:01

Oh dear oh dear. Not a surprise but very sad, especially considering the poor health he has endured for several years. Bless you Frank.

I have such fond memories of an uproarious evening one Friday before the Oz Grand Prix in which he kept a table of eight of us in tears of laughter for hours.



#12 cooper997

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:02

Very sad news. His laconic wit will be sorely missed.

One enduring memory I have is seeing Frank (with his obligatory terry towelling hat) sitting atop of the B&H transporter's cab at Phillip Island 1993 ATCC round watching his BMW M3's circulate around the back of the circuit.

In more recent times, he was at the Eastern Creek Tasman Revival in December 06. Telling some of his exploits as we enthusiasts sat on the hay bales in the marquee while listening to him and Frank Matich. Afterwards he signed my 1965 Australian Motor Racing Annual with him on the cover (about to go through the viaduct at Longford).

Rest peacefully Frank - motor sport enthusiasts around the world will miss you.

Stephen

#13 nivola

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:09

Frank will be missed.

RIP



#14 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:26

Another memory that has come back to me. Frank was very much tied-in with Lola for years as we know. I lived nearby and Frank lived in Woodlands, about 10 miles from Lola, a nice residential area in Priory Park, St.Neots...or so I heard.

I was a young teenager and me and a mate who often came racing with us, went on our bikes one sunny day around the Priory Park and ended up going through Woodlands. I remember saying, 'Frank Gardner lives here somewhere, I wonder if we'll see him?'...sort of in jest.

Lo and behold, around the corner there was Frank, in his race overalls with his trademark hat on, washing his car in his driveway! Well we stopped a few yards away..he spotted us but didn't say anything. I was trying to pluck up courage to say something to him and Frank then said 'G'day boys'! We'll that broke the ice, we then had a good chat for several minutes, he asked us where we'd seen him racing and seemed impressed that such young lads had seen him racing the Mann Escort 4/5 years earlier.

Meeting one of my heroes in such a quiet setting away from the crowds at the track made a big impression as did him stopping the task of washing his car to stop and chat. It really made my day at a meeting at Silverstone a few weeks afterwards when he recognised us in the crowded paddock.

#15 john winfield

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:38

That's very sad news. He made such an impression on me when I was a youngster, and images of him thundering along in the Boss Mustang, the Camaro and the F5000 Lola come flooding back. His post race interviews were among the best too! A good man.

#16 Giraffe

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:49

That's incredibly sad news. I saw him race so many times at Oulton Park in Lola F5000, Alan Mann Escort, Ford Falcon, Lola T70......
We'll all be remembering him at the F5000 re-union at Oulton Park this weekend.

#17 john medley

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 07:58

They dont make them like that any more.

An irreplaceable character, driver, manager, driver trainer,and storyteller

Frank will be missed

#18 sterling49

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:00

How very sad, I saw Frank in so many cars from the old one and half litre F1s to F5000, sports cars, Falcons, F2, and almost as good as the driving was when he made it to the top step (almost mandatory for Frank) and you were treated to his acerbic wit whilst being interviewed by Anthony Marsh, a genuinely funny guy that also drove brilliantly. I first saw Frank drive (IIRC) in 1964, he was part of the scenery at Brands, albeit very fast moving. Farewell to a guy that has a big part of my memory bank. R.I.P. Frank :cry:

Edited by sterling49, 29 August 2009 - 08:05.


#19 Tim Murray

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:36

In 1967, as well as winning the British Saloon Car Championship, he was leading the European F2 Championship going into the last few races, eventually finishing runner-up to Ickx. Farewell to a great driver and a great character.

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#20 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:45

:cry:

TY, Frank. You done good.



#21 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 08:56

A great shame, although as Gary said, not a huge surprise.

Regrettably, I never met him, but everyone I've met who met Frank had nothing but good things to say about him, which says it all. He'll be sorely missed. RIP.

#22 Pedro 917

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:03

RIP Frank

Posted Image
Nivelles 1973, copyright Edwin Foubert.

#23 Stephen W

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:12

That's very sad news. He made such an impression on me when I was a youngster, and images of him thundering along in the Boss Mustang, the Camaro and the F5000 Lola come flooding back. His post race interviews were among the best too! A good man.


Well said John. He was a great driver and one of the best at getting the most of out whatever he drove. I remember one post race interview after he won a BTCC race in the Boss Mustang. When asked did he have any problems his reply was "On Lap 5 the radio packed in."

Posted Image
The great man as I will remember him leading the pack at Oulton Park.

:cry:

#24 Giraffe

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:21

At the Gold Cup 40 years ago, Frank won the supporting Sports Car Race in the Grand Bahama Racing Lola T70 MK3B as seen above in Steve's excellent photo.
Chris Skeaping to the left of Frank with Steve's favourite, Willie Green behind and John Lepp on the far right of the pic providing an Oulton Park Chevron vanguard for the Maestro.

#25 longhorn

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:22

What a good bloke. Fantastic in XOO 349F, the Alan Mann Escort, then later on in F5000. I recall him being interviewed on the grid at Brands Hatch just before the start of a BTCC round. He had qualified the SCA Freight Camaro on the front row, probably pole. Everyone else had complained about something or other, as they do. Frank said that everything was fine except the radio wasn't working too well, which of course brought a roar of laughter from the crowd. The radio must have been OK during the race though as he wasn't troubled after Paddock. Met him at a Goodwood Festival some time back. He was with Jack Sears and Carroll Shelby and they were all happy to stand in the sunshine and chat about the past and the present scene. Frank spoke about the dummy supercharger they ran on the Mann Escort which enabled them to run in the big car class, and, as we know, was capable of winning outright on the tighter circuits. What a character. We'll miss him.

#26 RTH

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 09:35

Memories of his dominance in the thunderous SCA Freight Camaro in the early '70s.
He also wrote an excellent book with Doug Nye "Racing Drivers Manual " in 1973.
A man with no fear of speaking his mind, something sadly lacking in people involved in motor racing today. Very impressive driver and a real personality.He will be missed.

#27 Team Result

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:28

RIP, Frank Gardner - always entertaining, on and off the track!

#28 sterling49

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:31

I still chuckle when I think of the phone call Frank received from von Hanstein (sp)of Porsche, asking him to drive the then, new 917, at the 'Ring.....................

#29 aaron

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 10:40

Memories of his dominance in the thunderous SCA Freight Camaro in the early '70s.
He also wrote an excellent book with Doug Nye "Racing Drivers Manual " in 1973.
A man with no fear of speaking his mind, something sadly lacking in people involved in motor racing today. Very impressive driver and a real personality.He will be missed.



Frank's book should be mandatory reading for every historic driver, especially the big engined cars. His (true) story about bringing the horrendous early 917 home at the 'Ring was brilliant. A great driver and character which the sport has too little of these days. He was also quite modest about his achievements in his inimitable laconic way. Right up with the best and a great ambassador for Australians doing good in the big wide world. Aaron.

#30 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 11:09

Sat next to this great aussie legend in 1966 at an NZRDC dinner - Jim Clark was opposite and I remember thinking that this was so good.
God speed Frank


#31 Bowinracer

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 11:19

RIP Mr Frank Gardner....
I am completely shattered by the loss of one of my heroes and the world is a sadder place because of it. I am sure his good spirit, and sportsman like nature is not lost on the world and will be remembered for many years to come. I am completely lost for words. Sad sad day. Farewell Mr gardner....

#32 David Manson

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 11:43

As custodian of the Hope Bartlett archive, Frank also made a valuable contribution to those of us who go back beyond nostalgia . . . . .


#33 alansart

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 11:48

Memories of his dominance in the thunderous SCA Freight Camaro in the early '70s.
He also wrote an excellent book with Doug Nye "Racing Drivers Manual " in 1973.
A man with no fear of speaking his mind, something sadly lacking in people involved in motor racing today. Very impressive driver and a real personality.He will be missed.


He was "Mr Camaro" to me from the first time I saw him at Brands in the early 70's.

Racing Drivers Manual is my favourite racing book :)

Sad to here of his passing. One of a kind.


#34 ac_Masaryk

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 11:49

RIP

#35 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:05

RIP :(

#36 Mansell Madgwick

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:17

Sad news. A great racer, team manager and human being.

#37 MCS

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:34

Oh, no. Another of my heroes no longer with us.

I still have his autograph and, of course, the memories. I read his Castrol-sponsored Racing Driver Guide in the early seventies and wish I still had it.

God rest his soul.

#38 JacnGille

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:57

:(

#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:59

So much could be said...

KB phoned me today with the bad news, which was quite a shock as we'd only heard a week or two back that they'd found an ointment they were using to treat him was causing a reaction that they hadn't been able to recognise. He was, they said, doing much better.

Nevertheless, time catches up and undoubtedly his 'war wounds' contributed to what must surely be counted as an early departure from this life.

Frank was, apart from many other things, the man who made F5000 Lolas so good for so many years. This aspect of his career hasn't been mentioned, but he was very good at working with engineers and becoming an engineer when this was needed. He knew his stuff.

I recall back in 1965 or 1966 at Lakeside (Nov 65, Feb 66... one or the other) he was coaching KB with the little Brabham and gave him a tip on getting more out of his Goodyears. Apparently there was a point where they seemed to be at the edge, but by going a bit further you could get a bit more grip out of them. Maybe KB can fill us in on the details?

The point is that Frank knew about this and was willing to pass it on to his 'young' team mate. Just as he did many things.

Some of his stories went over the top, but for the sake of the stories it might have been necessary for them to do so. They were always well told and aimed at breaking the dullness of people around him.

He told me once about racing against Moffat's Capri. In the Sports Sedan class they were running, with Frank in the Corvair, the maximum rim width was 10", but Moffat had a size of tyre on his car that needed at least a 12" rim.

Frank walked up and talked to him about various things, and then, looking at the tyres he said, "Are Goodyear giving you good service with these?" "Yeah, fine!" replied Moffat. "It's amazing that they squeezed them onto ten inch rims for you, Allan," he said, and left it at that.

I gather Moff ran 10" rims after that.

His most famous line, though, must surely have been the one about his death last night.

"I always said I didn't want to be the fastest driver, just the oldest one." Well, he sure outlived a lot of the others.

Can we have, if anyone has them, some statistics?

How long did he race? When did he begin, and in what? How old was he?

And, of course, we mustn't forget to offer our sincere condolences to Gloria, who must have been shattered to lose him after bringing him back from the hospital in Sydney. And to Bruce and Nola, their close friends and neighbours. To Kevin, who knew him so well and worked so closely with him, and Rana who would have felt like one of the family (and who has her own problems at the moment), to Glenn and Stuart and many others who've been closely connected over the years.

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#40 richardspringett

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:16

I feel very honored to be the custodian of one of the cars that Frank Gardner with Kevin Bartlett helped to make famous.

My condolences to family and friends.

Richard

#41 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:22

Nevertheless, time catches up and undoubtedly his 'war wounds' contributed to what must surely be counted as an early departure from this life.

Can we have, if anyone has them, some statistics?

How long did he race? When did he begin, and in what? How old was he?


Thanks Ray for a heartfelt & interesting post, but I'm surprised that you didn't know his age - 78 - and you consider that an early departure... although it must have felt Frank a) wasn't that old and b ) it's interesting to see how many people consider late 70's to be a young age to go...

As for the rest, it's all on the web - a fine summary of it is here - http://www.sportscar...es/gardner.html - started later than most, mid 50's I believe, and was pretty much involved with the sport for 40 more years.

Edited by Richie Jenkins, 29 August 2009 - 13:47.


#42 Bowinracer

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:37


His most famous line, though, must surely have been the one about his death last night.

"I always said I didn't want to be the fastest driver, just the oldest one." Well, he sure outlived a lot of the others.

Can we have, if anyone has them, some statistics?

How long did he race? When did he begin, and in what? How old was he?

And, of course, we mustn't forget to offer our sincere condolences to Gloria, who must have been shattered to lose him after bringing him back from the hospital in Sydney. And to Bruce and Nola, their close friends and neighbours. To Kevin, who knew him so well and worked so closely with him, and Rana who would have felt like one of the family (and who has her own problems at the moment), to Glenn and Stuart and many others who've been closely connected over the years.
[/quote]

Frank was born i believe on October 1, 1931 in Sydney. His first drive was when he was 17 in late 1949 at Marston Park Airfield in an MG TA. Hope this helps

#43 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:40

TA - then gap then C-Type

#44 Giraffe

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:48

Frank was born October 1st, 1930, making him almost 79 years of age.

#45 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:48

Frank was born i believe on October 1, 1931 in Sydney. His first drive was when he was 17 in late 1949 at Marston Park Airfield in an MG TA. Hope this helps


1 October 1930. He was 78.


#46 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:49

Don't be surprised, Richie, I wasn't on his birthday party list...

And 78 is not old, really. My dad recently died at 87 and it was a surprise, Allan Tomlinson is expected (I hope!) to turn out for the 70th anniversary celebration of his 1939 AGP win in October at a spry 93. Sure, for some people it is old, but not for Frank and people who've kept as active and healthy as he did.

The problem with the site you cited, Richie, is this kind of thing:

He had made his motor racing name in Australia with a string of victories to win the New South Wales Championship 1956-57. His all-conquering Jaguar C-Type was salvaged from a ravine - "it had killed a couple of Italians in the process" and Gardner happily labels it a 'shitbox!' "The whole scene was a bit disorganised. These were the days when Conrod Straight [at Bathurst] was all-gravel," remembers Gardner with a smile.

"The pit straight was paved, but this was so that the officials and timekeepers didn't get their suits dusty!"


Let's see what we have here...

1. Any 'NSW Championship' in 1956/'57 would have been a single race. Except for the ARDC Club Championship.

2. Has anyone ever tested the 'killed a couple of Italians in a ravine' line? Maybe Allen or Michael could devote some time to finding out how true that might be.

3. "...the days when Conrod Straight [at Bathurst] was all-gravel" ended a very long time ago. 1939, I believe. That stuff is pure fantasy and story-telling.

See what I mean? Frank could tell a good tale, but if the material was lacking, he'd introduce something that didn't really match up with the facts.

#47 Catalina Park

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 13:49

It would be Marsden Park airstrip for his first event.

#48 Bowinracer

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 14:02

prior to 1953 he had competed in MG's and AC's then from 1953 he raced a Jaguar XK120 at Mt Druitt. Then replaced it with a C- Type Jaguar. Then went to the D- Type.

#49 Bowinracer

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 14:08

All i know is that a doctor John Borman drove the C- Type into a Ford Customline and ended in a ravine....

#50 Giraffe

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 14:19

When asked did he have any problems his reply was "On Lap 5 the radio packed in."


It's funny, I saw Frank race many times and he never seemed to have much luck with car radios...........  ;)