Gardner biog would be great


Dear Nigel,
If I’m not mistaken the Aussie racing driver Frank Gardner recently turned 80. Do you know if there’s a biography of this legend in the pipeline? From the bits and pieces I’ve read about him, and the few interviews he’s given to Motor Sport, I’ve little doubt it’d make for very interesting reading. If nobody seems willing, then maybe you could turn your hand to it!
Ryan Garritty


Dear Ryan,
So far as I know, no biography of Frank Gardner is in the pipeline – unfortunately, because only Mario Andretti comes anywhere near Gardner when it comes to anecdotes and laconic one-liners.

Sample: “David Piper and I were the first guys to race the Porsche 917. I got a call from Porsche, and the money they were offering was certainly good enough to cross a strip of water, and get in this thing. I think the reason they bestowed this honour on me was that every factory 917 driver was in hospital at the time…

“I remember David did one lap in practice, and was all for going back to England! But I pleaded with him to stay because the money was right.

“This was one of the first 917s, with an alloy chassis frame, which was gas-filled. There was a big gauge in the cockpit, measuring the gas pressure, and that was to keep you informed of the chassis’s condition. If the gauge zeroed, they said, it meant that the chassis was broken, and I should drive mit care back to the pits.

“I decided that if it zeroed, I wasn’t going to drive it mit care anywhere. I was going to park the bastard there and then, pick up my Deutschmarks, and get home to Mum…

“The thing flexed so much that the actual position of the gear lever used to change – you’d reach for where it had been the last time you used it, and it wasn’t there!

“Then there was the engine. You had about 300 horsepower at 5000 revs – and then at 5100 you picked up another 300. So it was a bit of a delight, really, and its handling… The computer had told them that nine-inch rims would do the job, and make the car very quick in a straight line – but the computer wasn’t strapped in the bloody seat up in the Eifel mountains, where you tend to get the odd corner…

“Like I always said, I never wanted to be the quickest bloke in motor racing – I just wanted to be the oldest. And that car was certainly going to interfere with those plans…”

While no biography of Gardner exists, there is – if you can find a copy – a marvellous little book he did, in conjunction with Castrol, back in the ’70s. Entitled A Racing Driver’s Manual, it has quite a bit about Frank’s career, and contains many of his best stories.

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