Brian Redman - From Another Era
But Still Racing In This One

dailysportscar.comA living legend of sportscar racing, Brian Redman (with his son James, right) agreed to answer a few questions about his career – with Claude Foubert.

Brian won almost every sportscar race, at a time when sportscars were at their best: every race but one though, the Le Mans 24 Hours, despite 14 starts and 1 DNQ. Unfortunately, he never made it onto the podium, his best results being two fifth places. He belongs to the "greatest never to have won", like "Brilliant Bob" Wollek: both of them deserved the honour of that famous win.

Brian Redman is now living in Florida, where he promotes vintage and historic events, such as the Jefferson 500. He often races cars such as a Lola T70 MkIII, a Chevron B16 or a Ford GT40.

What is the best car you have ever driven? Is there a car you would have wanted to drive (old or modern cars), but never did?

It is very hard to say which is the best car I ever drove because it's not really fair to compare early cars with later cars.

In 1968 the John Wyer Gulf GT40 Ford was a very good car, strong and reliable with good safety for the driver. The 1969 Lola T70 Mk IIIB was also a very good car, and if it had the power and reliability of the Porsche 917, would have been faster.

dailysportscar.comCertainly, in its day, Porsche’s 908/3 was fantastic, designed only for the Nurburgring and the Targa Florio.

(Brian's fantastic website was the source for all of these images - plus the nugget of information that the 908/3 left the road ten times on each lap of the 'Ring - right)

At the same time the 2 litre Chevron B16 coupe and the B19 were fabulous cars.

Of course the 917 was also a great car....eventually! When it first came out in 1969, it showed extremely poor handling, but by 1970 was very good indeed. However, you certainly didn't want to hit anything, because the aluminium tube chassis was not the strongest!

dailysportscar.comIn 1974 the Porsche 917/30 was really astonishing, with 1,100 hp and great roadholding from its enormous rear tyres and wing (Brian in Vasek Polak's 917/10, right, at Riverside in '73). The Ferrari 312PB was a grand prix car with bodywork and was like a 450 h.p. Go-Kart!

Of course, when ground-effects came along, everything changed and what we thought was good road-holding and handling was certainly then old fashioned.

I managed to win three U.S. Formula 5000 championships, 1974/75/76 with Mario Andretti finishing 2nd in 1974 and ‘75 and Al Unser (senior) in 1976. Obviously, the car we used, the Lola T332C (for Chaparral, as the car was prepared by Jim Hall) was just great, with superb, predictable handling. Today I drive for the Collier Museum in Naples, Florida and have driven some great cars for them, including the 917, 908/3, RS61, Scarab (sports car, great fun, with 6" tyres, drum brakes - and 500 h.p.) Their 1938 Maserati CLT is also really outstanding, with 450 hp at the rear wheels! I have a great admiration for the pre-war drivers who raced these monster cars on circuits which weren't so great!

Who has been your favourite partner in sportscar racing?

Obviously, I think, Jacky Ickx was the best co-driver, so young, so confident - and so quick! The great Jo Siffert was also fantastic, but he only had one speed - flat out!

Can you say a few words about the teams you have been racing for?

I have been very lucky to drive for some of the best teams in the business..... John Wyer with the Ford GT40 in 1968 and again in 1970 with the factory Porsche 917K and 908/3. The Porsche factory team in 1969, run by Rico Steinemann, was very good: it must be remembered that there were 10 drivers running five cars! In 1972/73 the Ferrari team, managed by Peter Schetty, was superb, with great reliability and speed and none of the old Ferrari pit dramas!

What circuits did you prefer? Is there a circuit you didn't like?

I like all circuits, but most of all - after the race was over! - Spa. A great mental challenge! Of course the Nurburgring was also very special. I managed to win five times at Spa, three times at the Nurburgring.

You have never won at Le Mans, so can you explain that? Do you have any regrets? As a driver, what do you think about the 24 Hours?

My great cross to bear is never winning Le Mans, in spite of being in the lead at least six times!

(One of the most famous ‘leads’ was in 1970. As Brian said to Bill Oursler: "It was in 1970, and we had a four-lap lead in our Gulf-Wyer 917 when about one in the morning Jo came up to pass three slower cars and missed a shift, right in front of the pits. If those 917 motors went more than 300 rpm above their safe 8,000 rpm limit, the valve gear broke. If it had been me, or someone else, we probably would have waited to make the pass. Jo, however, knew only one way to live, whether it was racing cars, doing business or romancing the ladies. That was flat out. He truly never could figure a way to conserve, especially during the 1970-71 era, when he and Pedro Rodriguez were locked in a battle to see who was the best.")

Let's face it, it's the only long-distance race that everyone knows about. Today a 24 hour race is flat-out, which would be fun, but in the old days, you had to look after the car a little, so the most fun was when something went wrong and you had to play catch-up!

During your career, which drivers have particularly impressed you?

Of course I drove with and against some great drivers......Jacky Ickx, Jo Siffert, Pedro Rodriguez, Francois Cevert, Henri Pescarolo, Jean Pierre Beltoise, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Ronnie Peterson.....it's impossible to name them all!

Can you compare the era of endurance when you were racing with our modern period, and do you think there is a future for sportscar racing?

I don't think there's a big future for sports-car racing. Of course, Le Mans will always be great, but these days no one really cares much about sports cars, except the enthusiast. In 1970 sports cars were as big, or bigger, than Formula 1 and indeed, on some circuits, were much faster.

Some revealing answers Brian – and for these, we thank you. We’re concerned about the last one… so perhaps the challenge is to keep building the number of enthusiasts?
Claude Foubert

You have to visit Brian's superb website - www.gorace.com - whixh lists his remarkable racing career.

Born: Burnley, Lancashire, Great Britain March 9, 1937
Home Now: Vero Beach, Florida USA
Married: Marion, since 1962
Son: James Daughter in law: Dawn Lucinda
Daughter: Charlotte
dailysportscar.comStarted Racing: 1959 with Morris 1000 Traveller (Woody - right)

Factory driver for the following teams:
John Wyer Gulf Ford
John Wyer Gulf Porsche
Dr.Ing h.c.F.Porsche AG
SEFAC Ferrari
Group 44 Jaguar (USA)
BMW Motorsport GMBH
Proteus Aston Martin
McLaren Racing. F1 (at the 1972 German
Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, below, where Brian finished fifth - the occasion of Jacky Ickx's last F1 win
)

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Frank Williams DeTomaso. F1
Cooper Car Company. F1
(1968 Spanish Grand Prix podium, below - with Graham Hill and Denny Hulme)

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UOP Shadow. F1
BRM. F1
Chevron
Haas/Hall Chaparral Lola F5000

Won the following Championships:
dailysportscar.com1974, 1975, 1976 U.S. Formula 5000 Champion. Carl Haas/Jim Hall Lola T330/332 - on the top step in 1974, right, with Mario Andretti and James Hunt
1981 IMSA Camel GT Champion. Lola T600 GTP.
1970 South African Springbok Champion. Chevron B16/Spyder.

Member World Manufacturers Championship winning teams:
1968 John Wyer Gulf Ford
1969 Dr.Ing h.c.F.Porsche AG
1970 Chevron (2 Liter Championship)
1970 John Wyer Gulf Porsche
1972 SEFAC Ferrari

Won the following International Races:
Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers- 2 times
Imola 500 Kilometers- 2 times
Kyalami 9 Hours - 2 times
Brands Hatch 6 Hours - 2 times
Sebring 12 Hours - 2 times
Monza 1,000 Kilometers - 2 times
Daytona 24 Hours - 3 times
Targa Florio (with John Wyer and Jo Siffert in 1970, below)

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Spa Francorchamps 1,000 Kilometers - 4 times
Osterreichring 1,000 Kilometers
Spa Francorchamps 500 Kilometers
Dijon 1,000 Kilometers
Nurburgring 500 Kilometres
Norisring
Vallelunga 1,000 Kilometres

Currently races a 1973 Lola T330 F5000, 1971 Chevron B19, 1968 Lola T70 Mk III & Ford GT40 in vintage/historic events.

Promotes vintage/historic races, including Brian Redman’s Jefferson 500 (7 years), the inaugural Nassau Classic Car Festival in 1997 and the Double 50 Porsche Celebration at Watkins Glen in 1998.

Owner of Targa 66, a limited membership club for owners of high performance road and race cars.

Provides individual and group driver schools.

Represents Merrill Lynch at the Merrill Lynch/Brian Redman Vintage Motorsports Award Series.

Contributing editor to Road & Track magazine.

Member Motorsports Hall of Fame

Life member of the BRDC - British Racing Drivers Club.

 

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