Frank Gardners '69 T/A Boss 302
© Steve Francis, Wolfgang Kohrn - February 10th, 2003, last updated September 3rd. 2010
Picture copyright W.Kohrn
Picture courtesy Kirk D.Keyes/Frank Gardner
Brands Hatch September 1970
Above pictures courtesy Trevor Legate
Frank Gardner was a famous australian driver, who raced a lot of Brabhams, Lola, Lotus and Fords in the 60ies/70ies in Europe.
Walter Hayes of Ford Advanced Vehicles brought the ex-Kar Kraft/Bud Moore 69 Mustang at the end of the 69 US T/A race season over to Europe for Frank Gardner. Frank and his crew then updated the car with 70 parts so it would look fresh for the 1970 Group 2 race season in the UK.
They had to take out the full roll cage and replace it with a lighter version, as the other one was not allowed in the regulations.
It raced as number 104 and 165 with 69 Bud Moore team colours and 70 Boss 302 stripes. The big Mustang won 8 out of 11 championship races and brought Frank almost his 3rd saloon car championship, until - during the final TT event - tire problems due to missed testing left Frank without the title.
We figure it must be the former Bud Moore car #625. The car appeared in 1970 among other races in Silverstone/GB on the 27/28th. June - again with no. 104. Frank qualified 2nd place with a time of 1.38,7. He later drove the fastest lap as well with 1.39,3 in the race.
Another race we have pictures of is Brands Hatch on the 1st. of September 1970. The car was entered with door no. 165.
Picture copyright W.Kohrn
In November 1970 Frank Gardner and Mike de Udy/GB entered the former T/A Boss 302 in the yearly Springbok race tour through Africa with races in Kyalami, Killarney Cape Town/Zaire, Lourenzo Marques/Mozambique, Bulawayo/Rodhesia, Piermaritzburg/Zaire, Goldfields/Zaire. The Boss 302 has been marked in Africa for shipment to Australia.
The car was then dropped while being unloaded at an Australian harbour quai and crashed down acc. to a magazine report. Acc. to David Bowden after some chat with Frank Gardner, the BOSS 302 was fairly repaired and raced again down under in some races, but crushed again later. The research began soon after.
The former Trans Am race car (148625) abused for Speedway races. Those were the days.
Picture courtesy Australian Muscle Car Magazine #30/2007
"I've heard that Frank sold the car to a Speedway racer and after that sale it was involved in a transport accident again. The drivetrain was used on another car and the body went a different direction. Maybe one day some remainders will pop up." (Steve Francis/2003)
A BOSS 302 engine turned up in a Mildren Tasman based Formula 5000 car, that was built by Len Bailey, a friend of Frank Gardner. Maybe this was the engine of the T/A Boss, but probably not, because the F5000 car was developped in parallel. The project was shelved later
We heard rumours over the years starting in 2003 that the shell was located. One rumour was that it was actually digged out of the site where it was burried after the serious accident, when it fell off a transporter near a bridge. We have yet to see the remainders and wait - well probably - until 2010. While being Down under in 2005 - the Bowdens updated me on the story.
As of 2010 Dan Bowden finally announced his history review and the news about the found remainders of the #148625 T/A Boss 302.
Frank Gardner was still active in vintage car racing (2003).
Update 2007: Frank celebrated his birthday, had a short hospital stay, but is back into racing as of these days.
Update 2009: Frank Gardner died. What a great racer. RIP
About Frank Gardner:
Frank was born in Sidney, Australia in 1931. He started his racing career with bikes on a speedway in 1949 and went into cars in 1951 with a XK120 Jaguar at Mount Druitt. He won his first car race, although he was more interested in swimming, rowing and surfing at that time. His profession was both patrol captain watching over bathers and a Jaguar garage owner.
Frank liked the british racing and went over to Europe in the late 50ies, working for Aston Martin as a racing mechanic with Tug Wilson and Bill James under John Wyer's directorship. He raced then a lot of cars from a Lotus F2, then in 1961 helped to build the Brabham Formula Junior MRD. 1962 and 1963 saw Frank racing FJ Brabhams for Ian Walker. Working for Walker meant turning down an offer for the works Brabham, instead Dennis Hulme got the seat.
In 1964 Gardner went to J. Wilment and raced F2 Lotus and Brabham, Cortina and Cobras for this team. In 1966 a Formula 1 Brabham was raced by him as was a F2 Lola for the Midland Racing Partnership.
A contract and a works Ford crossed his winners path. Driving a works Ford GT40 at Le Mans was one of his highlights. By 1967 he was sitting in one of Alan Manns Ford Falcons leading the British Saloon Car Championchip with 62 points vs. J. Fitpatrick's 54 in an Broadspeed Anglia.
Between his european "jobs" Frank used to go back to Australia to participate in the Tasman Championchip, driving for Alec Mildren's team.
Frank Gardner 1967 with his Falcon in Brands Hatch
Picture courtesy Ford
Asked about the Falcon, Frank stated in a 1967 interview:" The big thing is to stay as tidy as possible, you must drive as neatly as possible, avoiding any attitude costing speed, and bringing the power on just as quick as possible after the slide. Saloons are completely unforgiving; they've got a lot of weight and a mind of their own, and they'll take off into the woods, if you give them a chance."|
Privately Frank was driving a Ford Zodiac at that time in 1967.
Alan Mann was Franks favourite team chief, very organised and reliable. It was only natural that when Alan Mann folded his relation with Ford in 1969 and opened his helicopter business at Fairoaks, Frank followed him into a hangar there and opened up his own raceshop with 12 people, some of them from the former Alan Mann shop team. Having still a contract as a Ford driver, Walter Hayes of Ford Advanced Vehicles was his guy at Ford to take care of Ford race car supply. Being otherwise heavily involved in Cortina racing the mighty BOSS 302 driven by George Follmer in Trans-Am was for sure quite a beast to control in saloon car racing Group 2 with a changed regulation. 2 other drivers of his team took the BOSS 302 seat occasionally.
Len Bailey was also working at Fairoaks and a close friend of Frank, which lead to his later F5000 engagement. With Mike de Udy, another friend at Fairoaks and co-driver in the African rallye tour of the BOSS 302, these guys certainly had a lot of fun.
Thanks to David Bowden down under in Australia, we've got an exclusive Interview with Frank.
Check out this link: The Frank Gardner Interview
Sources: Some Information taken from Frank Gardners book "Castrol Racing Driver Instructions" dated 1976, other information from Graham Robson "Ford in Touring Car Racing" and 'Motor Racing - Official Journal of the British Racing & Sports Car Club'