Edgar Barth

Birthday : 1917-01-26
Deceased : 1965-05-20

Biography Edgar Barth

Edgar Barth saw the first daylight in a village called Herold, near Chemnitz. Even at a young age, Barth showed interest in mechanics and felt a need for speed.  It was no surprise for his family when Barth started racing bikes. Edgar Barth had just turned 16. His first attempts in motorsports were trial events. Later Barth started competing in road races. The young Edgars talent did not go unnoticed. He signed up as a factory driver by DKW in 1937. Later Edgar switched to car racing. It began with a BMW. World War II stopped the career of Barth, and it turned out that after the war the village he lived in was classed in the eastern zone of Germany, which was under Russian control. Barth resumed racing shortly after the war in East Germany.

Edgar Barth aus Herold 1951 am Sachsenring (c) Motorrensport Archiv Jordan

EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk)

A few years after the war, Barth began racing a Norton in East Germany. In 1951 the official racing team of Norton (Johannisthal Racing Collective) hired him. The team had its base in workshops at an airfield in Berlin. They used cars that had been built by EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk) who had taken over BMW’s old factory. After that take over they continued building cars under the name BMW.  A lawsuit however forced them to change the name to EMW. The logo of the brand new type could however easily be interpreted as the one of BMW, as it showed large similarities

Soon Barth became EMW’s leading driver. This position allowed Barth to travel to the West to defend the honor of EMW at different races.  Edgar Barth made his Grand Prix debut in an EMW at 1953’s German GP. Exhaust problems made him retire after only 12 races.

Edgar Barth in a EMW (date and race unknown)

1954 saw victories at Halle and podiums at Sachsenring and Bernau plus a fourth place finish in the GP Berlin. There were victories the following year at Dessau, Halle, Sachsenring and Leipzig plus podiums at Leipzig and the 500km Nurburgring. Continuing with the EMW in 1956 he won the GP de Paris then raced an AWE to victories at Leipzig and Dessau plus a podium at Solitude. Political issues had caused his appearances in the West to be limited but after being allowed to race the EMW in 1956 at Montlhery (France), he made such an impression that Porsche offered him a factory drive.

Escape to West Germany

However, the East German authorities rejected against the contract offered by Porsche. So Edgar Barth took a life-changing decision. He gained permission to race a motorbike at Hockenheim, but he also raced a Porsche in the Nurburgring 1000km (with Umberto Maglioli). The East German authorities were furious andd decided to give Edgar Bart a lifelong ban from taking part in any motorsport event within the GDR. Barth realised that returning to East Germany would mean that he would never be allowed to travel to the West again. So he decided to stay in West Germany, and moved to Kornwestheim, near Porsche’s factory in Stuttgart.

Career with Porsche

In 1957, Barth teams up with Richard von Frankenberg in the Reims 12H. In their Porsche 356 Carrera GT they take class victory. That same year, he races a Porsche 718 RSK sharing the wheel with Huschke von Hanstein in the GP in Venezuela to take another class victory.

1957 Reims 12H - von Frankenberg - Barth -#48
Start of the 1957 Reims 12H – Edgar Barth and Richard von Frankenberg in the #48 Porsche 356 Carrera GT

In 1958, Barth finishes 12th in the German GP in a Formula 2 Porsche. Barth achieved 3 more podium spots in 1958. He finished 3rd at Zeltweg, the Nurburgring and the GP Berlin. Teaming up with Jean Behra in the Tourist Trophy. And together with von Dory, Barth drives to fifth in a Porsche 550 Spyder in the Buenos Aires 1000km.

Edgar Barth – Wolfgang Seidel – Targa Florio 1959

He would make another appearance in the Formula 1 World Championship in 1960 and finished seventh in the Italian GP at Monza with a Porsche 718. During this period there were further F2 races and there was also a sensational overall victory in a Porsche 718 RSK in 1959’s Targa Florio with Wolfgang Seidel. 1959 would see a fifth place finish in the Sebring 12 Hours with John Fitch.

Hill climbs

However, it was in hill climbs that he enjoyed his greatest success. Edgar Barth won the European Hillclimb Championship in 1959, 1963, and 1964. In 1959’s championship he took three victories from three starts with a Porsche 718 RSK. In 1963 he turned out to be unbeatable in a Porsche 718 WRS. At the first event in Rossfeld, the constantly changing weather conditions affected all the drivers but he drove well to beat the favorites. Following this, he went on to win at Trento Bondone (Italy), Cesana-Sestriere (Italy), Freiburg-Schauinsland (Germany) and Gaisberg (Austria). Though at the last race of the season in Switzerland, his fuel pump failed.

Edgar Barth – Porsche 718 WRS Spyder – Sierre-Montana Hill Climb

However, he had already scored enough points to become the Champion again, the second year in a row, ahead of Heini Walter and Hans Herrmann. In 1964, he won with an Elva Porsche at Rossfeld but contested the other races with the 718 RSK and won at Trento Bondone, Cesana-Sestriere and Freiburg. These results were more than enough to take the title for the third time, ahead of Herbert Müller, who was also racing for Porsche.

Edgar Barth at Le Mans

Edgar Barth competed at Le Mans on several occasions, racing a Porsche each year from 1957 to 1964 (alongside Umberto Magliloli in 1957, Paul Frere in 1958, Wolfgang Seidel in 1959-1960, Hans Hermann in 1961-1962, and Herbert Linge in 1963-1964). His best result came in 1958, finishing fourth with Paul Frere to win the 1500cc class. In the 1963’s race, the Porsche 718 W-RS lost a rear wheel. At that point, Edgar Barth did an immense effort pushing the car half a kilometer back to the pits while holding the rear corner up. The car was repaired and continued the race and they came home eighth.

1958 Porsche 3-4-5 publicity photo: 718 RSK 1.6 (718-005) #29 Jean Behra/Hans Herrmann 3rd overall (14 laps behind winner, 1st in 2-litre class), 718 RSK 1.5 #31 Edgar Barth/Paul Frère 4th overall (15 laps behind, 1st in 1.5-litre class), 550A RS Spyder 1.5 #32 Carel Godin de Beaufort/Herbert Linge 5th overall (17 laps behind)
1958 Porsche 3-4-5 publicity photo: 718 RSK 1.6 (718-005) #29 Jean Behra/Hans Herrmann 3rd overall (14 laps behind winner, 1st in 2-litre class), 718 RSK 1.5 #31 Edgar Barth/Paul Frère 4th overall (15 laps behind, 1st in 1.5-litre class), 550A RS Spyder 1.5 #32 Carel Godin de Beaufort/Herbert Linge 5th overall (17 laps behind)

During this period, other strong results included fourth in the 1960 Trophée d’Auvergne with a 356B Carrera then third in 1961’s Targa Florio (with Hans Hermann) and second in the 4Hr Pescara with Orthuber. Into 1963 he and Herbert Linge were third in the Targa Florio and following this came a fourth in the 1000km Nurburgring, alongside Heini Walter, Ben Pon and Herbert Linge.)

Porsche 904/8 driven by Edgar Barth and Umberto Maglioli in the 1964 Targa Florio

In early 1964 he raced a  Porsche 356 Carrera at Daytona teaming up with Joakim Bonnier and Herbert Linge. Later that year a Porsche 718 RS Spyder was shipped to America to contest the Sebring 12 hour race. Competitors were the dominant Ferraris and Shelby Cobras with much larger engines, resulting in a 20th position finish for Barth and Linge. Back in Europe, he co-droved a Porsche 904/8 at the Targa Florio with Umberto Maglioli and they finished sixth and first in P2 class. Following this took fifth in a 904 in the 500km Spa and had a podium finish with Colin Davis in the 1000km Paris race.

He made a final F1 appearance driving Rob Walker’s Cooper T66-Climax in the 1964 German GP though retired from it due to clutch problems. Sadly, by now Edgar had been diagnosed with cancer and he passed away nine months later in hospital in Ludwigsburg, aged only 48.

His son Jurgen Barth later became a Porsche factory sports car driver and won Le Mans with Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood in 1977.

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