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Brian Redman’s Daytona victories

Brian Redman won the Daytona 24 Hours three times. He co-drove a John Wyer Gulf Porsche 917 in 1970 to win with Pedro Rodríguez and Leo Kinnunen, won for a second time in 1976 co-driving a factory BMW 3.0 CSL with John Fitzpatrick and Peter Gregg, and added a third victory in 1981 co-driving a Porsche 935 with Bobby Rahal and Bob Garrettson. Each win came in a very different manner.

Redman won nine World Championship sports car races with Wyer’s factory Porsche team in 1969 and ‘70. For one of the top drives in endurance racing at the time Redman was paid $750 per race plus expenses and received an additional $250 for Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. His usual co-driver was Jo Siffert and at Daytona in 1970 they spent most of the race in second place behind another 917 driven by Rodríguez and Kinnunen. But not long after sunrise on Sunday morning the clutch broke in Redman and Siffert’s car.

The Porsche mechanics changed the clutch which took a little under 45 minutes and Siffert rejoined in third place, 50 laps down. Meanwhile, Wyer called Kinnunen into the pits and told him to get out of the leading 917 because he was going too fast. Wyer had been trying to get Kinnunen to slow down but the Finn didn’t understand much English and this was before anybody used radios to communicate. It was all done by pitboard.

sports cars  Brian Redmans Daytona victories

Wyer told Redman to take over from Kinnunen and to keep his speed down. Redman conformed to Wyer’s directions and after an hour he pulled in to hand over to Rodríguez. After a rest, Redman took over his usual car from Siffert and drove hard, trying to make up time, only to get into the marbles on the banking and give the wall a glancing blow. Repairs were required and Siffert then took over for the final sprint to the finish, passing the Mario Andretti/Arturo Merzario Ferrari 512 for second with only a few laps to go.

Porsche was delighted to score a 1-2 sweep with Redman driving both cars, but he refused to join Rodríguez and Kinnunen in the winner’s circle. “I was technically part of the winning team,” Brian remarked. “But I certainly wasn’t going to show up in the winner’s circle having driven only a short time.”

In 1976 Redman drove a BMW CSL at Daytona with Peter Gregg. During the race Gregg didn’t feel well and drove only a brief stint . Redman ended up driving 14 hours with John Fitzpatrick doing most of the remaining driving. Fitzpatrick had started the race in another BMW that was an early retirement from the race. On Sunday morning Redman’s car started suffering from fuel starvation and after a pitstop it stalled out on the track. Brian ran back to the pits, got some tools, fiddled with the fuel line and got the engine started again, but before he could make it back to the pits it stopped again. Meanwhile, other cars were running into the same problem and race officials soon discovered that somehow water had gotten into the gasoline supply.

sports cars  Brian Redmans Daytona victories

The race was stopped and the teams were allowed to siphon the tainted fuel from their tanks and clean their fuel lines. New truckloads of gas were brought in and the race was restarted after a 4-hour delay. Redman went on to win and when he appeared in the winners’ circle, filthy and bedraggled, there was Peter Gregg in his clean drivers’ suit, looking fit as a fiddle. Redman was totally exhausted and after returning to his hotel he fell asleep in the bathtub.

The next morning Redman ran into BMW team manager Jochen Neerpasch in the hotel lobby and Neerpasch asked where Redman had been for the victory dinner. Brian told Neerpasch he had fallen asleep and Neerpasch smiled and told him not to worry. “Peter Gregg gave a great speech and thanked each of the mechanics individually in perfect German,” Neerpasch said, leaving Redman fuming.

Five years later Redman raced a Porche 935 at Daytona with Bobby Rahal and Bob Garrettson. The 935 was owned by Cooke Woods Racing and prepared by Garrettson at his shop in California. Rahal qualified 16th, but only two hours into the race they were in the lead. “That made me very nervous,” Brian recalls. “In any long race in the past where I’d been in the lead early on, invariably it didn’t last, and I kept telling Bobby and Bob that it was too soon for us to be leading. They both assured me they were taking it easy, which their times confirmed.”

sports cars  Brian Redmans Daytona victories

Late on Saturday night however an exhaust header cracked. One of the team’s mechanics, Greg Eliff, dived underneath the car and changed the broken header in twelve minutes. Eliff suffered some minor burns, but Redman rejoined still in the lead. Later in the race the front suspension required some repairs but not much time was lost and Redman/Rahal/Garrettson won by 13 laps. “I had won the race twice before, if you count my having driven the winning 917 in 1970 for one stint.,” Brian remarks “In 1976, Peter Gregg got all the adulation, even though I’d done most of the driving. This time all three drivers shared in the victory equally.”

sports cars  Brian Redmans Daytona victories

Add your comments

6 comments on Brian Redman’s Daytona victories

  1. IM, 14 January 2013 18:38

    Maybe I’ve succumbed to rose tinted nostalgia specs but these stories indicate to me how the 24 hours at Daytona has degraded over recent years. The 917 is, of course, an all-time great, the Batmobile and 935 are not bad either. Will we be reading stories in 30 years time about those devices that race there now? I won’t that’s for sure!

    The merger of GrandAm with the ALMS is a tragic dumbing down – another of the remaining “free” technical regulation series bites the dust and the P2s will be slowed to the pace of those other things…..

    Maybe they could rescue the whole thing with a class for lightweight, low fuel prototypes (aka the Deltawing).

  2. Bill, 14 January 2013 20:49

    This is all very nicely written, but the big ? remains: what does JYS think about Brian Redman?

  3. chris b, 14 January 2013 21:59

    two of my favourite drivers were Brian and John Fitzpatrick and its good to read something of their exploits occasionally.

    But that picture of the 917 vs the 512 is as awesome as it gets – which is something that the modern cars can’t aspire to – what is good though are the number of top-flight drivers who partake in the modern races

  4. Rob Hermann, 15 January 2013 03:04

    Thanks to Brian Redman for the many racing thrills a fan of many years could ask for. Cheers!

  5. Phil Moss, 16 January 2013 00:46

    Good Q Bill. I wonder.
    I have said this before, though, my early days at Oulton Park watching him in the Red Rose E Type, him winking at me from the cockpit of Sid Taylor’s T70 whilst I was stood in the pits with my dad and being part (at close quarters) of his “retirement meeting” at Oulton in 1970 all led to me being a total petrol head. Yes he is my hero and yes I think was top drawer.
    My slot car collection of his cars is testament to that….
    One thing, though. It seems that no body has a bad word to say about him as a bloke or as a driver.

  6. Andy Livesey, 17 January 2013 08:41

    I love that photograph with the Gulf Porsche’s and Ferrari’s slugging it out. Made even better with the guy in the white suit waving the Green flag, wtf!

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Gordon Kirby

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