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Bob Garretson

8th September 1933 (Age 86)
Sunnyville, California
Most recent race (in database):

At the age of 48, Bob Garretson was probably the least known world champion of all when he clinched the 1981 sports car title. He ran a successful race preparation business in his native Northern California and first raced a Volkswagen Beetle for fun in 1964.

Return in the IMSA GT Championship

That initial foray only lasted a couple of years and Garretson Enterprises was a thriving concern by the time he returned in IMSA in 1976. Garretson’s maiden victory was the 1978 Sebring 12 Hours with Dick Barbour’s Porsche 935. But he was lucky to walk away from a 200mph end-over-end roll at Le Mans that year after he lost control when passing a slower car at the Mulsanne Kink.

World Sportscar Champion

With a World Sportscar Championship for Drivers run for the first time in 1981, he planned a full season running a Porsche 935 in partnership with Cooke-Woods Racing. The season started in the best possible fashion with victory in the Daytona 24 Hours with professionals Brian Redman and Bobby Rahal sharing his car.

Third at Watkins Glen (with Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears) and sixth at Le Mans (Anny-Charlotte Verney/Ralph Cooke), his consistency and a judicious choice of co-drivers meant Garretson led Harald Grohs in the standings entering final round at Brands Hatch. The race was run in a typical British downpour but Garretson finished second to clinch the title.

The new world champion finished third at Daytona in 1982 and had another couple of outings the following season before deciding to stop racing. Married to an Englishwoman, he split his time between homes in Lancaster, England and Mountain View, California. Garretson did race in the British production Porsche series in 1990 and 1991 but then quit the sport for a third and final time.