Jo Gartner

Born : January 24 1954
Deceased : June 1 1986

Biography Jo Gartner

Jo Gartner grew up in Vienna (Austria) as the son of a garage owner. Obviously mechanics and engineering became his life and passion. And as everybody knows : the way from a passion for engineering to the world of motorsports can be short. Jo Gartner went to a technical high school. Later Gartner did an apprenticeship with Kaimann Formula Super Vee constructor Kurt Bergmann. As he was rather skilled with the drawing board, it is no surprise that the soon got involved in the design side. And not that much later, Gartner felt the urge to drive the cars he was designing. And he wanted to be better and faster than the others.

1986 Sebring 12 Hours winners- Bob Akin, Jo Gartner and Hans-Joachim Stuck
1986 Sebring 12 Hours winners- Bob Akin, Jo Gartner and Hans-Joachim Stuck (copyright unknown)

His first races were Hillclimbs with Formule Vee’s, but in 1977 the real race-career of Jo Gartner got a start at an age of 23. Even though he was not the youngest in the field, his progress was remarkable. In his second season, he was a forerunner in the Formula Super Vee Championship. In 1979, Gartner set his first steps in Formula 3 Racing.  Just one later, he sets another step up on the motorsports ladder when he moves to Formula 2 in a March. In his debut race in F2, his car hits the debris of the car of Markus Höttinger  that suffered a fatal crash. Subsequently Gartner was invited to take Höttingers seat in the BMW M1 Pro Car Championship series in the team of Helmut Marko.

In 1981 Jo Gartner raced a Toleman TG280-BMW for the 1981 European F2 Championship. Gartner turned rookie promise into a sixth place finish at Enna-Pergusa and third on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps. In 1982, Arturo Merzario offers him a free seat in his F2 team. In the opening round at  Silverstone’, Jo Gartner finished 2nd. Later he was 3rd d in qualifying at the old Nürburgring.  Those were the only highlights in the 1982 season.

1983 is a year when Jo Gartner runs his own car again. In Pau, he achieves a victory due to the fact that his direct opponent was disqualified. 

Jo Gartner in F1

The succes of Pau pays off for Gartner and he enters the F1 in the second Osella-Alfa Romeo in eight GPs thanks to the financial support of a local tobacco brand. 1984 would be the only year hecompetes in F1. In 8 races, he only manages a fifth place at the Italian GP but his car was not eligible so that result is not marked in the rankings.

Jo Gartner and Endurance Racing

Since Jo Gartner no longer had a F1 seat, he moved to sportscar racing. At the wheel of the John Fitzpatrick Porsche 956B he drives some IMSA races. Jo Gartner teams up with David Hobbs and Guy Edwards in the 1985 Le Mans 24Hours in the John Fitzpatrick Porsche 956C. Unfortunately they finish just off the podium in 4th place.

Jo Gartner and the Kremer Porsche 962C at Le Mans 24H 1986
Jo Gartner and the Kremer Porsche 962C at Le Mans 24H 1986 (copyright unknown)

The 1986 season began with victory for Gartner / Bob Akin / Hans-Joachim Stuck in the Sebring 12 Hours with Bob Akin’s Coca-Cola Porsche 962 despite crossing the line on three wheels. That same year, John Gartner had a seat in a Porsche 962C of Kremer Racing too. In Silverstone, Gartner shared the wheel with Tiff-Needle and finished 3rd. In the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours, Gartner shared the wheel with  Sarel van der Merwe and Kunimitsu Takahashi. At 3.10 am, Gartner lost control of the Porsche 962C at the Mulsanne straight. At a speed of 160 mph, he crashed into the barrier. The car caught fire and most probably Gartner died on impact.