DRIVERS: GERHARD MITTER

Name: Gerhard Mitter
Nationality: Germany
Date of birth: August 30, 1935 - Schonlinde
Date of death: August 1, 1969 - Nurburgring Circuit

Born in what is today the town of Krasna Lipa in the Czech Republic, Mitter grew up in the Sudetenland region, which had been annexed by the Nazi government when Mitter was three. At the end of the war around three million Sudetenland Germans were expelled from the area and the 10-year-old Mitter went with his family to settle in the town of Leonberg, near Stuttgart.

In his teens he started racing motorcycles, beginning with an NSU before moving on to an MVAgusta. After five years he decided to switch to motorcycle-engined Formula Junior and began preparing DKW engines, building the Mitter-DKW at his Autohaus Mitter garage in Leonberg. By the early 1960s he was one of the top names in Formula Junior, winning more than 40 races.

In 1963 he joined Porsche as a development engineer and racer and made his F1 debut that year in one of Carel de Beaufort's Ecurie Maarsbergen four-cylinder Porsches in the 1963 Dutch Grand Prix. In the years that followed he did the German Grand Prix each year but concentrated on sports cars and hillclimbs in particular, winning the European Hillclimb Championship for Porsche for three consecutive years between 1966 and 1968. Among his sports car wins were the Austrian GP of 1966 and the 1969 Targa Florio.

In 1969 he was hired by BMW to help the company develop its Formula 2 challenger and it was while driving this that he was killed after a suspension failure at the Nurburgring while practising for the German Grand Prix.

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