Frank Gardner was a regular Tasman competitor throughout both the 2.5 litre and Formula 5000 Tasman Championships. He drove various cars for the Alec Mildren team in the ’60s and had the best overall Tasman record for “local” drivers. Mainly competed in Europe where he was regarded as one of the best test drivers and carried out these duties for the Lola factory.
He was best known as a Touring car racing and Sports car racing driver, but he also participated in nine World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 11 July 1964. He scored no championship points. Gardner also participated in numerous non-Championship Formula One races, including a third placing at the 1965 Mediterranean Grand Prix, fourth in the 1965 Race of Champions and third in the 1971 International Gold Cup.
In 1966 Gardner finished second in the 1000 km Spa round of the World Sportscar Championship. In 1967 he also finished second in the European Formula Two Championship and second in the British Autocar Formula 2 Championship. In 1970 he was third in the British Formula 5000 Championship and in 1971 was Champion.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s Gardner had podium finishes in the Australian Grand Prix – second in 1966 and 1972 and a third in 1967. He finished third in the 1967 and 1972 Tasman Series. He won the British Touring Car Championship title on three occasions in 1967 (Ford Falcon Sprint), 1968 (Ford Escort) and 1973 (Chevrolet Camaro), and was runner-up in the BTCC in 1970. In 1975 he finished second at Bathurst in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000.
After returning to Australia in the mid-1970s Gardner won the 1977 Australian Sports Sedan Championship driving a highly modified Chevrolet Corvair. That championship victory led into a team management role when he retired from full-time driving. After running the Allan Grice Touring Car and Sports Sedan team in the late 70s, it rolled into a factory touring car preparation for BMW in the Australian Touring Car Championship, a team he would run from the programs toe in the water inception with a BMW 318i turbo Sports Sedan in 1980 all the way until 1987 when Gardner’s operation was unceremoniously replaced by Peter Brock’s former Holden Dealer Team operation, although that relationship broke down after a single season. During that time his team won the 1985 and 1987 Australian Touring Car Championships with Jim Richards. Shifting to a privateer Ford Sierra team Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera won the 1988 Bathurst 1000. When BMW returned to the Australian championship in 1991 it was with Gardner’s team. The factory BMW team continued with Gardner, switching to (Supertouring cars in 1994) at the helm until 1998, winning the 1994 (with Longhurst), 1995 and 1997 (with Paul Morris) Super Touring titles.
When the race team was shifted in 1998 Gardner became involved in driver training. Gardner passed away in August 2009.
Via: Wikipedia and 2008 Tasman programme.
Images: Autosport Forums