- January 26, 1917
- May 20, 1965
- Not Active
Edgar Barth (1917-1965) was a German racing driver who was active in different racing disciplines from the early 1950s to the mid1960s.
He recorded five starts in the Formula 1 World Championship and numerous participations in some famous sports car events such were Le Mans 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours or Targa Florio. His greatest success was an overall victory at Targa Florio in 1959 at the wheel of a Porsche 718 RSK and two class victories at Le Mans 24 Hours.
Edgar's son Jürgen Barth (born in 1947) was also a racing driver, becoming Porsche racing legend and one of the greatest sports car racers in the history.
Starting a career in motorcycle races
Born in January 1917 in Herold near Thum in Saxony, Edgar Barth started his racing career in 1934 in motorcycle races. He was driving DKW and BMW bikes.
After World War II, he lived in East Germany and switched to car racing. The former BMW factory in Eisenach became the EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk) and Barth became factory driver in sports car races and Formula 2, taking two East German F2 championship titles in 1952 and 1953.
Formula One debut with EMW at 1953 German Grand Prix
In August 1953, Barth made his Formula 1 debut, representing EMW in the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife. Driving the #35 EMW R2, he was 24th in qualifying among 35 drivers and retired from the race after twelve laps.
In the following years, he continued to race with EMW in sports car races, both in the East and West Germany, gaining some success. In May 1955, he took S1.5 class victory in the Eifelrennen at Nürburgring, driving an EMW R3/55. He also raced internationally, even winning races, such as Prix de Paris in April 1956.
1957 - emigrating to the West and signing for Porsche
In 1957, Edgar Barth emigrated to the West and became Porsche factory driver in various competitions. In his first race with Porsche, he finished fourth overall and first in S1.5 class at Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers, sharing a Porsche 550 RS with Umberto Maglioli.
In June 1957, Barth made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours, driving the #32 Porsche 718 RSK. He and Umberto Maglioli failed to finish the race because of an accident. One more class victory followed in July at Reims 12 Hours, where Barth and Richard von Frankenberg took the GT1.6 class win in a Porsche 356 Carrera. In November 1957, Barth was driving Porsche 718 RSK at Venezuela Grand Prix, sharing a car with Huschke von Hanstein and taking a victory in S2.0 class.
The best F2 driver at 1957 German Grand Prix
Besides being successful with Porsche in sports car races, Barth was also driving a Porsche in hillclimb races, Formula 2 and Formula 1. In August 1957, he raced in a Porsche RS550 F2 car at German Grand Prix, finishing 12th overall and the best among nine drivers with F2 cars. He was just one lap behind race winner Juan Manuel Fangio in a Maserati.
A year later, in August 1958, Barth scored his career-best result in Formula 1 race, finishing sixth overall at German Grand Prix in a Porsche RSK F2 car. He was second among F2 drivers, behind Bruce McLaren.
Class victory at 1958 Le Mans 24 Hours
Barth's main career was in the sports car racing and he continued to collect trophies in 1958. In January, he took S1.5 class victory at Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometers in a Porsche 550 RS. In March, he made a debut at Sebring 12 Hours but failed to finish the race in a Porsche 718 RSK.
He also recorded DNFs at Targa Florio and Nürburgring 1000 Km. Then, in June 1958, he finished fourth overall and took the S1.5 class victory at Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing the #31 Porsche 718 RSK with Paul Frere. That remained Barth's career-best result at Le Mans in his eight participations there.
Victory at 1959 Targa Florio
In March 1959, Barth started a season with the fifth place overall at Sebring 12 Hours, together with John Fitch in a Porsche 718 RSK. A month later, Barth clinched probably his greatest victory, winning the Targa Florio in the #112 Porsche 718 RSK, sharing a car with Wolfgang Seidel. Later that year, Barth recorded DNFs at Nurburgring 1000 and Le Mans 24h.
In 1959, Barth won the first of his three championship titles in the European Mountain Championship. He was hillclimb champion in 1959, 1963 and 1964, taking all three titles with Porsche cars.
Seventh place at 1960 Italian Grand Prix
In 1960, Barth raced in Formula 2 and returned to Formula 1, participating in one race. It was not a German Grand Prix but the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September. Driving the #24 Porsche 718, he finished in the seventh place, three laps behind the race winner Phil Hill (Ferrari).
In the sports car races during 1960, Barth was again successful at Targa Florio, finishing sixth overall and the first in S1.6 class, together with Graham Hill in a Porsche 718 RS. He had no luck in other races, recording DNFs, including at Le Mans.
Two more podiums at Targa Florio, one more class win at Le Mans
Driving Porsche cars in sports car races was Barth's main job in the early 1960s. He and Hans Herrmann retired at 1961 Sebring 12 Hours and then reached a podium at Targa Florio, finishing third overall in a Porsche 718 RS. At Le Mans, Barth/Herrmann finished seventh.
In 1962, Barth was driving a Porsche 356B Carrera Abarth GTL to GT1.6 class victories at Paris 1000 (with Huschke von Hanstein), Nurburgring 1000 (with Herbert Linge) and Le Mans 24 Hours (with Hans Herrmann).
He had similar results in 1963 in a Porsche 356B Carrera 2000, taking GT2.0 class wins at Targa Florio (3rd overall), Nurburgring 1000 and Trophee d'Auvergne. At Le Mans, Barth and Herbert Linge finished 8th overall in a Porsche 718 WRS.
Many class victories with different Porsches in 1964
In February 1964, Barth visited the USA to race with Porsche at Daytona 2000 Kilometers. Sharing the #52 Porsche 356B Carrera 2000 with Herbert Linge and Jo Bonnier, he finished sixth overall and first in GT2.0 class. A month later, he drove Porsche 718 RS to 20th place at Sebring 12 Hours.
Back in Europe in April, Barth took P2.0 class victory and sixth place overall at Targa Florio, sharing a Porsche 904/8 with Umberto Maglioli. The same car he drove to a class win at Spa 500 and Paris 1000, retiring at Le Mans 24h and Reims 12h.
The last Formula 1 attempt at 1964 German Grand Prix
Parallel to his successful sports car career with Porsche, Barth recorded one more Formula One attempt in August 1964, driving a Walker Racing Team's Cooper T66-Climax in the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring.
At the wheel of the #12 car, he was 20th among 24 qualifiers. In the race, he stopped after just three laps due to a clutch problem.
Cancer interrupted a successful career
In summer 1964, already drawn by cancer, Barth had to slow down his racing activities. One week after his last F1 attempt he recorded his last overall victory, driving a Porsche 718 RS in the Schauinsland Hillclimb race. In October, he took the class victory, together with Colin Davis, at Paris 1000 Km race in a Porsche 904/8.
It was his last race. Seven months later, on May 20, 1965, he succumbed to cancer and died in Ludwigsburg.