GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA // Former Australian racer Frank Gardner, who made eight Formula One starts in the 1960s, has died following a long illness at the age of 78. Gardner, who died on Saturday, made his first F1 start at the British Grand Prix in 1964 and his last at the 1968 Italian Grand Prix, with his best finish an eighth at the British GP in 1965. He also won the European Formula 2 championship, three British saloon car titles, the European 5000 championship and made 14 starts in the Le Mans 24-hour race. After being based in Europe for much of the 1960s and 1970s, Gardner returned to Australia in 1975 and retired from racing in 1977 after capturing the Australian sports sedan championship, winning 41 races from 49 starts. He later managed race teams.
In his early life, he was a swimmer, surf lifesaver and had seven professional boxing matches in 1952. "This is just a very, very sad time," three-time former Formula One champion Jack Brabham told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper today. Gardner raced for both the Brabham and BRM teams in Formula One. "Frank was different, a real character who everyone loved to have around," added Brabham. "He had a driving talent. He could drive anything: sport cars, single-seaters, saloon cars, everything."