Frank Gardner, OAM

3x British Touring Car Champion/European F5000 champion


Frank Gardner was a down-to-earth laconic character, as good an engineer as he was a driver.

Pretty sharp, too, as a driver trainer, team manager, entertainer and author – all of which is why he was so keenly sought after to drive – and sometimes develop – everything from Formula Vees to Formula 5000s, Le Mans cars and big, beefy tourers.

He was the sixth of 16 Australians who have driven in Formula 1.

Frank’s straight forward approach worked wonders for him in a swag of commercial involvements with teams, sponsors, drivers and manufacturers that kept him heavily involved in motor sport for more than 30 years.

He jumped from steering a surf boat at Palm Beach to racing with some of the world’s best drivers like Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.

When Frank’s father died in a car crash, Frank went to live with his uncle, Hope Bartlett, a legendary racer from the early days of Bathurst and, before that, Maroubra speedway.

Hope made sure that Frank became an automotive engineer, a career he preferred to driving. Frank always said he didn’t want to be the fastest driver, just the oldest.

Despite this, it was an on-going niggling motor racing injury that bedevilled him until his death, aged 78.

He was married to his lovely wife, Gloria, for 40 years.