Former DKW and Abarth factory driver during the 60s and 70s, won more than 300 races all over Europe. Father of F3 and DTM driver Christian.
Former DKW and Abarth factory driver during the 60s and 70s, Johann Abt, started racing motorcycles when he was just 15 years old. He entered a grass track race in Kempten that year and though he didn't need a licence, he did need the permission of the military government and of course of his mother Rosina Abt. He finished on the podium. In 1952 he won the “Oberallgäu Berfahrt” race in Sonthofen on a DKW. In 1954 he became the youngest member of the DKW-works team and even became part of the national team.
In 1957 he switched to four wheel racing an F91. This was DKW's first race car and owing to the small factory budget, it was pretty unreliable. However when it stayed together, Johann was always at or near the front.
In 1967 after a few problems, he joined Abarth. He went to Turin to meet with Carlo Abarth. He waited for four days outside his office before he got to meet him. Abarth asked him how much money he had and when he said none, Carlo showed him the door. A long wait for a short meeting!
The just four weeks later he got his contract, earning it through his driving rather than money. Johann was to compete in 30 races and Carlo Abarth told him, “If you win them all, you don’t need to pay.”
Driving a Fiat Abarth 1000 TC, based on the Fiat 600, hardly the basis for a race car, he won 29 of them and came second in the other. Carlo Abarth paid up and not only found a great driver, but also a friend.
In 1968 Abt won 17 out of the 20 races he entered and finished third in the German Automobile Mountain Championship. He continued to race for the Abarth factory team until 1970.
Later he entered cars with his own team, winning the "Trophé de l’Avenier“ and other series. He never counted his wins and didn't keep all his trophies, so it is not known how many victories he took during his career, however it is over 300.
In 1962 he established Abt Tuning (named Abt Sportsline since 1991), which he made into one of the worlds most successful tuning companies. Even after his two sons, Hans-Jürgen and Christian Abt, took over the day-to-day management of the family business, Johann Abt continued to be instrumental in the success of Abt Sportsline GmbH.
Johann Abt passed away at the age of 67 after a long and serious illness. He is survived by his wife Thea and their two sons Christian (F3 and DTM driver) and Hans-Jürgen Abt.