Brian Redman is about as down-to-earth as they come, which for a top-flite racing driver, is not an attribute common to all who ply their trade in this field. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Brian on twelve occasions in the last decade, and he has never been anything other than willing, cooperative and a true gentleman.
In one of our early conversations, Brian explained how he had to decide as a young man, whether to join his family’s supermarket business, or to follow his growing interest in motor racing. Around this time, Brian was criss-crossing the UK in a (much modified) Morris Minor Traveller selling mop heads for the family empire, when his father sat him down one day and asked him what it was going to be – the grocery business or motorsport! Fortunately for us, Brian chose the latter!
Over the decades, Redman has driven an astonishing variety of racing cars, across a wide range of racing classes – from saloons to GTs, sports cars to F1, F5000, IROC and the rest. Specifically, though, this book covers just the period 1965 to 1975, which is precisely where the sub-title comes in: Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks. In order for an aspiring racing driver to progress in the sport around this time, he (or she) had to be prepared to risk life and limb to achieve their goal. Such were the steps being made in the sport at that time, though, that racing speeds climbed exponentially, while track safety wasn’t always at the top of the race organiser’s agenda.
However, those drivers who had their eye on a long career in the sport, were able to seek out the best rides, but even so, Redman had his fair share of life-changing incidents. Redman has never been reticent in sharing potentially some of the most dangerous racing incidents, where his life literally hung in the balance. Three of these incidents include the 1968 crash in the F1 Cooper at Spa, the Porsche 908/03 fiery accident in the 1971 Targa Florio, and the Lola T332C ‘new’ Can-Am crash at St. Jovite in Canada in 1977. He has explained these three life-changing brushes with death with me, in great detail, in our chats over the years, not leaving out any details – what a remarkable memory. There were other bumps and scrapes along the way, but these three would have sent the best of the rest packing for the hills in search of a new career. Redman though, was a racer through and through, and he bounced back each time.
The book is thorough and well written, covering Redman’s every twist and turn in this very colourful and action-packed decade. The images too, are out of the top drawer, with the world’s top photographers supplying their best to show Brian’s career in graphic detail. Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring, Targa Florio, Le Mans and Daytona are just some of the great tracks where Redman left his mark.
Both on and off the track, Redman was the considerate competitor and teammate, like the time that he and Jo ‘Seppi’ Siffert returned to their flat after a night on the town – most of the building’s occupants heard them coming a mile away. But more seriously, racing in the period 1965-1975 was all too often interrupted by the news of the death of yet another friend, which made getting on with your career all the more difficult. This was the way of life for a racing driver back then which makes this book all the more fascinating to read, especially when the stories are told first hand by one of the world’s all-time-greats, Brian Redman.
Encouraged by Jim Mullen, himself a racing driver, Redman eventually put pen to paper and began his writing project. Ever the gentleman, considerate, passionate, focussed and dedicated, Brian Redman was always the professional racing driver and was always taken seriously on the track. It’s not hard to see why, from the Foreword by Mario Andretti to the Afterword by Sam Posey, this book brings together some of the most memorable races and moments, richly supported by telling stories from his colleagues. It has been well compiled, well edited, and well produced – a fine read!