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Edgar Barth

Full Name:
Wilfried Edgar Barth
26th January 1917
Herold, Saxony
20th May 1965 (Aged 48)
Ludwigsburg, Baden-Wurttemberg, cancer
East German
Most recent race (in database):

The son of a wealthy stocking manufacturer, Edgar Barth began racing motorcycles when just 16 years old. He was a works DKW rider in 1937 before the onset of war interrupted that career.

Racing behind the Iron Curtain

When Germany was partitioned after World War II, Barth’s home near Chemnitz was in the Russian-controlled East. That did not stop him from resuming his career as his successes were initially deemed to reflect well on the new East Germany. He raced on both two and four wheels – riding on a Norton and driving a works EMW from 1951.

He twice won the East German Formula 2 Championship and was allowed to race in the West during 1953. Fifth in the Eifelrennen with the EMW, he retired from the German GP after 12 laps running in the midfield.

Defection and Porsche career

Barth impressed on the few occasions he raced abroad during the coming years and he was invited to join Porsche for 1957. Denied permission to travel by the East German authorities, he and his family defected to West Germany. Fourth overall and a class winner in the 1957 Nürburgring 1000Kms, he was soon regularly placed in World Sportscar Championship races.

He also drove a converted Porsche sports car in the German Grand Prix in 1957 and 1958 – winning the F2 class in 1957 and finishing sixth overall a year later. He would make two more appearances in the Formula 1 World Championship when seventh in the 1960 Italian GP for Porsche and a retiree in Germany 1964 with Rob Walker’s Cooper T66-Climax.

But it was in endurance racing and hillclimbing that Barth truly excelled. He raced a Porsche at Le Mans each year from 1957 to 1964 and finished fourth in 1958 to win the 1500cc class. Barth’s greatest sports car triumph was victory in the 1959 Targa Florio with a Porsche 718RSK and Wolfgang Seidel.

As well as sports car success, Barth won the European Hillclimb Championship in 1959, 1963 and 1964 – those final achievements all the more noteworthy for Barth had already been diagnosed with cancer from which he died in 1965.

His son Jürgen would later uphold family honour both in sports cars and at Porsche.