Former British Touring Car Champion Frank Gardner has died in Australia at the age of 78, following a long illness.
A former boxer and lifeguard, Gardner turned to motorsport in the early 1960s and established a reputation as a tough character both on and off the track.
After moving from Australia to Europe, he made his Grand Prix debut at the 1964 British Grand Prix in a John Willment Automobiles-run Brabham, and started eight grands prix in total, taking a best finish of eighth in Britain in 1965.
A title in single-seater racing did follow as he won the British Formula 5000 Championship in 1971, and he was also a runner-up in both the European Formula 2 and British Formula 1 series' as well.
He found greater success in touring and sportscars, winning the BTCC in 1967 in a Ford Falcon Sprint, in '68 in an Escort, and in '73 in a Chevrolet Camaro, becoming the only foreign driver to win the championship three times.
After returning to Australia in 1975, he finished second in that year's Bathurst 1000 and then won the Australian Sports Sedan Championship two years later.
Following his retirement from the drivers' seat, he ran the works BMW team in Australian touring cars until 1987 - guiding Jim Richards to a pair of titles - and then, managing his own Frank Gardner Racing team, took the 1988 Bathurst 1000 with Tony Longhurst and Tomas Mezera in a privateer Ford Sierra.
He again ran the BMW works team when the German manufacturer returned to touring cars in his homeland in 1991.
Following a switch from the now V8-based series to Super Touring in 1994, his squad claimed three more titles, with Tony Longhurst in 1994 and '95, and with Paul Morris in '97.
AUTOSPORT extends its sincere condolences to his family and all of his friends.