Rudy Bartling, Canadian King of Sebring, Has Passed Away
Canadian endurance racing legend Rudy Bartling passed away the second week of September.
Bartling, Ludwig Heimrath, Klaus Bytzek, Horst Peterman, Rainer Brezinka, Klaus Barthels, the list goes on of drivers who came to Canada in the 1950s and made new lives for themselves out of war-torn Europe.
Rudy Bartling has been described as Canada’s most experienced endurance racer, and Sebring was his second home, as he started that Florida endurance classic 17 times between 1972 and 1996, the most of any Canadian driver and seventh among all drivers.
Bartling hired himself out for various racing teams throughout his career, driving a series of Porsches not only at Sebring, but in such major venues as the IMSA Camel GT races, the BF Goodrich Sundown Grand Prix, and the Molyslip Endurance Series.
He began racing in the early 1960s and was the 1962 under two-liter Canadian champion with his Porsche Carrera. After numerous victories including the Oak Cup at Mosport, he placed fourth in the 1968 Road America race with co-driver Ludwig Heimrath in a McLaren Elva.
In his first appearance at Sebring, he placed seventh overall, and took four top-10 finishes at the airport road course, his best placing a sixth overall in 1977.
During his career, Bartling proved he could work on cars successfully, as well as drive them. He turned the wrenches for noted Porsche racer Vasek Polak, first in 1965, and again in 1973 with the Porsche 917 Turbo that was driven by Jody Scheckter.
By 1981, he had 20 years of racing behind him, but had another 20 to go. He continued to race in endurance contests throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, driving with Klaus Bytzek, where the team won four of five Molyslip races in 1997 to win the championship. Also, in the same year, he was campaigning a Porsche 911 of his own, placing third in the Canada GT Challenge Cup.
Bartling’s success as a racer is only a part of his career. Along with his mechanical skills, the respect from his fellow racers and teams mark his achievements in the world of Canadian motorsport.
(Text courtesy of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame).