Gerhard Mitter

Full Name:
Gerhard Karl Mitter
Born:
30th August 1935
Schonlinde, Sudetenland (now Czech Republic)
Died:
1st August 1969 (Aged 33)
Nurburgring, Rhineland-Palatinate, German GP practice
Nationality:
German
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Gerhard Mitter was a far better racing driver than a glance at his Grand Prix record would suggest. He was also an accomplished engineer and one of Europe’s best all-rounder drivers.

Background and Formula 1 career

Born in what is now the Czech Republic, his family moved near to Stuttgart at the end of World War II where they ran a garage. He raced motorcycles before switching to Formula Junior by the end of the 1950s. He prepared engines for himself and others in the category and over 40 wins were rewarded with the 1960 German FJ title.

He joined Porsche as a development engineer and driver in 1963. Mitter also raced Count de Beaufort’s Ecurie Maarsbergen Porsche 718 in two GPs that year and finished the German GP in a fine fourth position. He drove a works Lotus in the race a year later (finishing ninth) and although he entered five of the next six German GPs, that was the sum total for his GP career.

Success in sports cars and hillclimbs

Mitter’s success came in hillclimbs and sports cars. European Hillclimb Champion from 1966 to 1968, he was a cornerstone of Porsche’s team at the time. He recovered from a broken leg while practising for the Spa 1000Kms to win the 1966 Austrian GP at Zeltweg against a strong sports car field. Further victories at Mugello in 1967 and in the 1969 Targa Florio were shared with Udo Schütz – the latter perhaps Mitter’s greatest achievement.

 A horrifying 170mph end-over-end accident at Daytona in 1968 did not deter Mitter. He joined BMW to help develop its Formula 2 challenger and was in the F2 class of the 1969 German GP. However, Mitter’s front suspension failed just after the Flugplatz during Friday practice. He crashed into a ditch and was killed instantly when the BMW 269 rebounded into the barriers.