Brian Redman - From Another Era
But Still Racing In This One
living legend of sportscar racing, Brian Redman (with his son James,
right) agreed to answer a few questions about his career –
with Claude Foubert.
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.
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.
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.
in its day, Porsche’s 908/3 was fantastic, designed only for
the Nurburgring and the Targa Florio.
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!
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.
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!
been your favourite partner in sportscar racing?
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
to visit Brian's superb website - www.gorace.com
- whixh lists his remarkable racing career.
Burnley, Lancashire, Great Britain March 9, 1937
Home Now: Vero Beach, Florida USA
Married: Marion, since 1962
Son: James Daughter in law: Dawn Lucinda
Racing: 1959 with Morris 1000 Traveller (Woody - right)
driver for the following teams:
John Wyer Gulf Ford
44 Jaguar (USA)
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)
Cooper Car Company. F1 (1968
Spanish Grand Prix podium, below - with Graham Hill and Denny Hulme)
Haas/Hall Chaparral Lola F5000
the following Championships:
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
1981 IMSA Camel GT Champion. Lola T600 GTP.
1970 South African Springbok Champion. Chevron B16/Spyder.
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
the following International Races:
Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers- 2 times
500 Kilometers- 2 times
9 Hours - 2 times
Hatch 6 Hours - 2 times
12 Hours - 2 times
1,000 Kilometers - 2 times
24 Hours - 3 times
Florio (with John Wyer and Jo Siffert in 1970, below)
1,000 Kilometers - 4 times
Osterreichring 1,000 Kilometers
Spa Francorchamps 500 Kilometers
Dijon 1,000 Kilometers
Nurburgring 500 Kilometres
Vallelunga 1,000 Kilometres
a 1973 Lola T330 F5000, 1971 Chevron B19, 1968 Lola T70 Mk III &
Ford GT40 in vintage/historic events.
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.
and group driver schools.
Merrill Lynch at the Merrill Lynch/Brian Redman Vintage Motorsports
editor to Road & Track magazine.
Hall of Fame
of the BRDC - British Racing Drivers Club.