Thursday, June 1, 2017

Josef "Jo" Gartner Dies In Crash At Le Mans - June 1, 1986

January 24, 1954 - June 1, 1986
Josef "Jo" Gartner
(Photo; espn.co.uk)
Born in Vienna, Austria.
Gartner was a Formula One and sports car endurance driver. After a successful lower formula career, including a win in the Formula Two Pau Grand Prix, he participated in eight Formula One Grands Prix with the struggling Italian Osella team during the 1984 season, scoring no points.

Gartner had finished fourth in the 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 962C along with teammates David Hobbs and Guy Edwards. In 1985, after his season in Formula One, he joined the Fitzpatrick Porsche Group C endurance racing team, driving a Porsche 956, and also campaigned a Porsche 962 for Bob Akin in the IMSA GT Championship. He won the 1986 12 Hours of Sebring, along with teammates Akin and Hans-Joachim Stuck, finishing on three wheels, and also won an international race at Thruxton with Tiff Needell. Gartner was aiming to join the factory Rothman's Porsche team for 1987.

While contesting the 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans for Kremer Racing with teammates Sarel van der Merwe and Kunimitsu Takahashi, Gartner's Porsche 962 suffered a mechanical failure at 2:10 am on the Sunday morning, and turned hard left into the barriers on the Mulsanne Straight at 160 mph (260 km/h). The car somersaulted down the track, hit a telephone pole and caught fire resting on the barriers on the opposite side of the track. Gartner was killed on impact, due to a broken neck. Although the cause of the accident was never determined, two marshals saw Gartner brake on the straight before the car veered off into the barriers. Gartner was the last fatality at the Le Mans 24 Hours under race conditions until Allan Simonsen was killed in the 2013 race.

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