Brian Redman's tribute to friend and 'all-time great' Vic Elford

Sports Car News

Competitors, team-mates and friends: few drivers were closer to Vic Elford than Brian Redman, who pays tribute to his late sparring partner

Vic Elford with Brian Redman

"Vic and I were as friendly as it’s possible for two competitors to be." — Redman (right) with team-mate Elford at Daytona in '69

Porsche

I first heard of Vic in 1962 through my world-class rally navigator friend, also from Burnley, Mike Wood, when he declared “this fellow Elford’s pretty quick”! In 1967 I followed his progress with Porsche, both in racing and of course rallying, where he became European champion.

In 1968 Vic was driving for Porsche and I for JWAE in the GT40 with the Young Brussels Sprout, Jacky Ickx. At the same time, I was in F1 with Cooper where following suspension failure and a broken arm at Spa, Vic was fortunate – or unfortunate, depending how you look at it – to take over the driving duties. I understand however, that I came out slightly ahead on the compensation side, £250 to Vic’s £200!

Towards the end of 1968, Vic asked if I could be his co-driver at the ’69 Daytona 24 Hours, and this is how I joined Porsche for a great two years in the 908/1, 908/2, 908/3 and 917K.

It was better for your psyche in those dangerous days, not to become too friendly with a fellow driver as there was a good chance something unpleasant might happen to them, but Vic and I were as friendly as it’s possible for two competitors to be.

Related article

In later years we would of course, indulge in little friendly verbal sparring when speaking at the same dinner:

Vic, after repeating several times: “I won six times at the Nürburgring

Brian: “Vic, we’re both getting old but perhaps you could remind me, when you won the 1000Kms in 1970 with Kurt Ahrens, wasn’t it after Siffert and I broke down? When you won the 500Kms also in 1970, driving the factory Chevron B16, wasn’t that after I’d caught fire in the B16/S?”

Vic’s superb victories at the Monte Carlo Rally, Daytona 24 Hours and Targa Florio in 1968; his love of the Porsche 917 right from the start because as he said: “It’s 20 miles an hour faster than anything on the Mulsanne”; his success in the TransAm; and ability with the Chaparral 2J “sucker” car; not to mention his Chevalier de Ordre National du Merite awarded for bravery at Le Mans in 1972, trying to rescue Jo Bonnier are are all testament to his personal character, his driving abilities and his stature as one of the greatest and most versatile drivers of all time.

Brave and smiling as always, in the early hours of March 13 Vic lost his final battle, this time with an unbeatable foe, cancer. Throughout this long and painful struggle, his much loved wife, Anita, fought by his side.

Rest In Peace Vic.

In the not too distant future, I look forward to one day racing again with you in that great Race Track in the Sky.