Brian Redman and Mike Thackwellby Rob Widdows on 26th March 2016
I think you might like this one...
Our latest offering from Motor Sport’s sound archive brings you very different characters from the history of our sport. A huge natural talent for driving racing cars is about the only thing these men have in common but our two headline names are fascinating in their different ways.
This month’s edition of the 1970s and 80s radio programme Track Torque features Mike Thackwell and Brian Redman… chalk and cheese I think you’ll agree, but entertaining as ever.
The show starts with Thackwell, plus Rob Wilson and Ian Grob, all of whom were in the thick of the action in the Vandervell Formula 3 championship back in 1979. In those days, of course, F3 was the prescribed route to Grand Prix racing and the grids were packed with young hopefuls. In those days the 'staircase of talent' began not with karting, but with Formula 3, huge crowds flocking to a wet and windy Brands, or Thruxton, to watch the stars of the future at work. Mike quickly got to grips with F3: “I found once you understood how the car drifted and felt around the corners it was easy to get used to. You cant throw an F3 around – you’ve got to drive it around.”
Mike Thackwell was destined for stardom. He simply oozed natural talent and was dubbed a “teenage sensation” by the media at the time...! Less than a year after making a huge impression in both F3 and Formula 2 he was on the grid for his first Grand Prix in Canada. A maverick character, very much his own man – he would not have enjoyed Formula 1 as it is today.
Fellow Kiwi Rob Wilson was never far from the podium while Ian Grob was a wealthy privateer who also raced sports cars with some success. These days Thackwell shuns the limelight, living quietly on the South coast, while Wilson still works as a highly respected instructor and has coached many of today’s successful drivers.
For something completely different, the second half of the show features Brian Redman, Grand Prix driver and one of the truly great sports car racers of all time. Now living in Florida, Brian is still racing a Porsche 908/3 after 50 years in the sport and has recently published a wonderful book about his extraordinary career: Daring Drivers, Deadly Tracks.
The Track Torque interview was recorded in 1980 but he begins by talking about the horrendous crash in a Can-Am Lola at St Jovite in 1977 that so nearly ended his career right there and then. “I’d altered the front wing angle slightly and it simply took off straight in the air, about 40 feet according to eye witnesses, and it broke my neck, shoulder, breast bone and ribs, and the broken neck bone scratched the spinal cord and left me with no feeling in my hands or feet. I was also dragged upside down along the road and it wore a hole through the side of my crash helmet and my head suffered a great deal of vibration which threw my eyes out of focus and it took a long time to recover from this.” It was nine months before he was fully fit and back up to speed.
He goes on to talk about the challenges of Le Mans. Brian remains one of the great storytellers of motor racing and I would urge you to take a look at his new book.
There’s plenty more to come from our sound archive so keep an eye on the website over the coming months. We’ll be reviving some great interviews with John Cooper, Innes Ireland, John Watson, Niki Lauda and many more from decades gone by.