Brian Redman

Date of Birth : March 09 1937

Biography Brian Redman

Name a competitive sports racing car of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and probably Brian Redman was one of the competitors. He was behind the wheel of the Ford GT40, the Porsche 917 and 908, the Lola T70, various Chevrons and McLarens, and the Ferrari 312, among others. He raced in Formula 1 as well, taking a single podium finish at the 1968 Spanish Grand Prix, even though he refused an F1 contract as he preferred sports car racing. One of the best-known quotes of Brian Redman about racing is  “It was the only thing I ever did that I could do reasonably well.” That probably explains he quit racing 3 times but he couldn’t resist coming back in the racing scene.

Brian Redman was born in Burnley, Lancashire, England, March 9 1937. Redman got his start in motorsports in 1959, racing a Morris 1000 Traveller station wagon. By 1965 Redman was winning often enough in both open-wheel and sports car series that he began to attract attention from companies like Ford, which first hired him to drive its GT40 at Spa in 1966.

Member of the Ford Team

1967 Le Mans 24 Hours – no.62 Mike Salmon – Brian Redman, Ford GT40

By 1968, Redman had established himself as a member of the Ford team, which would go on to take the World Championship for manufacturers with its GT40. Like many drivers of his day, Redman raced the occasional F1 event as a hired gun, and in 1968 he piloted a Maserati-powered Cooper T81B at the South African Grand Prix, switching to a BRM-powered Cooper T86B at the next race in Spain. Redman finished third here, behind winner Graham Hill and second-place Denny Hulme, but it was to be his only podium finish in a Formula 1 race. At his next outing in Belgium, his Cooper suffered a suspension failure, trapping the driver’s arm between a trackside barrier and the side of his car. The resulting compound fracture left him sidelined until late in the season when he returned to sports car racing behind the wheel of a Chevron B8.

Jo Siffert and Brian Redman win the 1970 Targa Florio in Porsche 908/3 - Archives Ted Walker
Jo Siffert and Brian Redman win the 1970 Targa Florio in Porsche 908/3 – Archives Ted Walker

Despite suffering his first serious accident, Redman showed absolutely no fear while racing. In 1969 Redman drove for Porsche alongside teammate Jo Siffert. Porsche would go on to take the World Championship for Makes that year, a feat the team would duplicate in 1970. In 1970, Brian Redman won the Targa Florio, teaming up with Jo Siffert. Redman returned to F1 in 1970 as well, driving a few races for both the Rob Walker and Frank Williams teams as his schedule with Porsche allowed. Early 1971 Brian Redman quit autosport for the 1st time.

Brian Redman 1971 Targa Florio Crash
Brian Redman suffers serious injuries in the inferno after he crashes his Porsche 908 in the 1971 Taga Florio

However, by March of 1971, he was back behind the wheel of a Surtees TS7 at the South African Grand Prix finishing seventh. He then went to Europe to race Porsches for the Martini Racing Team, Chevrons for Red Rose Racing and McLarens for Sid Taylor Racing. While piloting a Porsche 908 for the JW Automotive Engineering Team in Italy’s Targa Florio, Redman suffered his second significant racing crash when his steering failed. Unable to slow the car in time, the Porsche 908 hit a concrete barrier and burst into flame. Before he could get out of the car, Redman suffered burns to his face, neck, legs, and hands, sidelining him for nearly three months.

Relocating to the USA

By 1974, Redman had relocated to the United States, where he was racing Lolas for Carl Haas in the F5000 series. He delivered championships to the team in 1974, 1975 and 1976. While practicing for the Can-Am race at Mont-Tremblant in June of 1977 (where he was once again driving for Carl Haas), Redman suffered the worst accident of his career in a Lola T332. Redman had stopped breathing by the time help arrived, but was quickly resuscitated by first responders. Though still alive, the accident took a heavy toll. Next to a broken neck and many fractures, his eyesight was affected as well. These vision problems would seriously influence his further racing career.

1978 Sebring 12H - Dick Barbour Racing Porsche 935 - by Brian Redman/ Charles Mendez / Bob Garretson.
1978 Sebring 12H – Dick Barbour Racing Porsche 935 – by Brian Redman/ Charles Mendez / Bob Garretson.

Since it was not clear if he could ever race again; Redman began to consider the prospects of forced retirement. He started preparing his race retirement but Redman’s passion for the sport (and his ability to heal) led him back to the track. On March 18, 1978, less than a year after his potentially career-ending crash, Redman piloted a Dick Barbour Performance Porsche 935 to victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring, with co-drivers Charles Mendez and Bob Garretson.

In 1989 he retired after a long race career at the age of 52. Nowadays he is a regular competitor at different classic races, as well as a regular participant at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Daytona Classic 24h. We strongly recommend reading Brian Redman’s biography to find out more about this fantastic driver.

Pictures courtesy Porsche AG, Ted Walker and Brian Redman collection.