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Brian Redman – Part I

Alfa_Romeo_33_TT_12_-_Redman_1974-05-19Various writers at various times have suggested that Brian Redmond is very likely history’s most underrated racing driver. I had the fortune and great pleasure to be responsible for the coverage of Redmond’s Formula 5000 career in the USA in the mid-70s. That time means that I am in no doubt that not only was Brian a phenomenally talented driver, but a quite lovely human being.

Many may not agree that a true champion in any walk of life can have the following sentiment, but Redmond did, and in many ways I believe that he was a better driver for it. He said “you don’t necessarily have to win a race to be satisfied. As long as you’ve given your absolute all, whether you finish first or last, you get a tremendous feeling of well-being after a race. The grass is greener and the sky is bluer”.

That is possibly an approach to racing that prevented him from winning more honours than his talent deserved, but Brian wanted to make a living from participating in the sport that he loved, whilst surviving an era in which many drivers perished. Team mates and friends such as Pedro Rodriguez and Jo Siffert were killed pushing the boundaries in search of glory at the height of their careers.

Nonetheless, over his long career Redman was involved in many accidents, some which he was lucky to survive. The first serious brush with disaster took place in 1967 at Spa when he shattered an arm when the front suspension on his F1 Cooper gave out. Seven years later came his closest call when he was left with a broken neck after his Haas/Hall Can-Am Lola took a tumble at St Jovite.

Brian is acutely aware that fate played out on his side on a number of occasions when contemporaries were less lucky during what was racing’s most dangerous epoch. He did however avoid pushing the boundaries as far as some of his colleagues, which is quite possible of influence in his darkly stating of the outcome of his career “I’ve always thought I’d be killed racing or make enough money to retire. So far, neither has happened”.