Gartner started his career in Formula Super Vee from 1975 to 1979 . In 1979 he drove a season in Formula 3 , including against Alain Prost . From 1981 to 1983 he drove in the Formula 2 European Championship , where he also achieved his first Formula 2 success with victory at the Pau Grand Prix in 1983 . In 1984, Jo Gartner competed in a total of eight Formula 1 Grand Prix in an Osella - Alfa Romeo . The best result was a 5th place at the Italian Grand Prix , but Gartner did not get any World Championship points, as Osella was only allowed to take part in the Drivers World Championship with one car. In 1985 he was left without a Formula 1 cockpit, he then switched to the sports car series. In the same year Gartner drove the 24 Hours of Le Mans , in which he and his teammates David Hobbs and Guy Edwards achieved fourth place despite crossing the finish line on three wheels.
On the night of May 31st to June 1st, 1986, at around 3:12 a.m., he crashed into the left guardrail of the track at over 300 km / h during the 24-hour race at Le Mans on the Mulsanne Straight and died on impact. The car overturned and came to rest on the other side of the track, where it subsequently burned out. The cause of the accident could not be clearly clarified, but a broken rear suspension is assumed to be the cause.