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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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