Bob Garretson

Born : April 8 1933

Biography Bob Garretson

Bob Garretson set his first steps in the racing world in the 50s doing drag races at different Southern Californian race tracks. After his service at the Navy for 2 years, he started his studies at the University of California in Berkely. He raised money to fund this studies by rebuilding V-8 engines. His lust for racing disappeared for a while, but when a long-time college friend visited him in a Porsche 356, Bob Garretson immediately knew that was his kind of car.

Soon after, Bob Garretson bought a 1957 Porsche 356A, to be replaced quickly by a 1960 Porsche 356 B. Those early cars were used again intensively both as a daily driver and as a fun car at some local Californian tracks.  About that time, Bob Garettson started working in the Bay Area in the Computer business, where he designed probes for testing semiconductors. The Garretson Enterprise was born soon after. Some of the money earned by  the company was invested in the startup of a Porsche repair shop in Mountain View, California. In 1978 Bob Garretson survived a horrific crash at over 200 Mph in a Porsche 935/77 he shared with Dick Barbour at the Le Mans 24H. Bob  Garretson said that he thought he had caused the accident by getting a little off line while taking over a much slower car. When the car crashed it rolled end to end and side to side. The wreckage of the Porsche 935/77 was spread over a quarter of a mile and left some ofthe body parts stuck in the nearby trees. The car was totalled, but Bob Garretson escaped only with some cuts and bruises.

Apple and the Porsche 935/K3

The year was 1980, Silicon Valley was on the cusp of the technology boom and Garretson was working in his humble Cupertino repair shop when the owners of a Bay Area startup pulled into his garage looking to have their bright new Porsche sports cars serviced. The geeks, as it would turn out, were the founders of Apple Computers Inc., Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Bob Garretson, who had a very active race career at the time, got into conversation with Steve Jobs. That conversation was the start of the Apple sponsorship for Garretson’s racing team.

Bob Garretson - Bobby Rahal Apple Porsche 935
Bob Garretson – Bobby Rahal Apple Porsche 935

The Apple sponsored Porsche was entered at different races in Sebring, Watkins Glenn, Road America and they even crossed the ocean to compete in the legendary Le Mans 24H. In its first race at the 12 hours of Sebring, the Apple Porsche driven by Bob Garretson and Bobby Rahal started 12th on the grid but battled to finish 7th overall. However, the race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans became the first of three DNF’s in the seven races it entered. Ending it’s short career on a high note, the Porsche 935 earned a 3rd place podium at the Road America 500.

1981 World Sportcar Championship Winner

With a World Sportscar Championship for Drivers run for the first time in 1981, Bob Garretsob planned a full season running a Porsche 935 in partnership with Cooke-Woods Racing. The team won the Daytona 24H, where Bob Garretson teamed up with Brian Redmann and Bobby Rahal. Third at Watkins Glen (with Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears) and sixth at Le Mans (Anny-Charlotte Verney/Ralph Cooke), his consistency and a judicious choice of co-drivers meant Bob Garretson led Harald Grohs in the standings entering final round at Brands Hatch. The race was run in a typical British downpour but Garretson finished second to clinch the title.

After his retirement from racing in the mid 1980’s, Bob Garretson went back into business. He opened offices selling computer chip equipment in England, France and Germany. It was also about this time that he met his wife, Ruth, now 66, and together the two have seven children from previous marriages and six grandchildren. His Wife Ruth didn’t know anything about Bob Garretson’s racing background until that day they visited Le Mans in France and some people were trying to get his autograph and some cameramen wanted an interview.

To this day Bob Garretson is still very active in the Porsche scene. He’s vice president of the Porsche 356 Registry and a very welcomed and respected guest at many classic car events like the Porsche Rennsport Reunion.