Le Mans, 1970:
BR: Well, Le Mans in the rain was not any fun at all because of the high speed on the straight. You know, going down the Mulsanne straight, I well remember, (late Saturday) afternoon, it’s still light but the rain is pouring down and of course, water’s coming in, in every direction, as usual. In the distance, all you can see is a ball of spray ahead of you. You can’t see what the car is or even where it is. Then as the speed’s getting up around 170 or 180 miles an hour, you’d hit a patch of water and wuuump! The rear wheels broke loose! You drive into the spray and you hope that the guy’s on the right hand side of the road. I’m not sure of the time, probably one in the morning or something like that, still pouring with rain, and now Jacky Ickx has caught up to Siffert but he’s 4 laps behind, at least 4 laps, might have been more, and they’re racing. (Brian makes a face). Ickx went off the track and a corner worker was killed. (Shortly after Ickx’ crash) Siffert came out from the chicane behind 3 slower cars and they were all sort of having their own race. They were spread out a bit. He came diving in to go between the right-hand car and the pits and right in front of the Porsche pit, if he timed it deliberately he couldn’t have done it any better, he missed top gear. So we all heard the engine, ‘bwaaap’ ….that was it.
Le Mans 1979 in the 936:
BR: I got a call from Porsche, would I like to drive the 936 with Jacky Ickx? This looks like a great opportunity. But I was a bit rusty, and hadn’t done many races, really, in the last two years, following my neck-breaking accident in the first race for the “new” Can-Am cars at St. Jovite in 1977. So, we go to Le Mans and it’s okay, Jacky comes in at the end of the first session, I think we were leading. I go out and at the end of my first lap, I go through the chicane by the pits and if you’re going into the pits you have to go right immediately. It’s not like it is today. And the car didn’t feel quite right as I took the right hand part of the chicane, so you go left, you go right, and when I took the right-hand part, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t have time to think, you know, whether it was the car or whether it was me. And I thought, ‘it’s probably me’, so I carried on. Now, I arrive at the Dunlop curve at 180 miles an hour and I turn and spun. The left rear tire had gone flat. That’s what I’d felt in the chicane. And I go ‘round the Dunlop curve and as it’s going around it’s spinning and I hear the bodywork coming off, flailing, the tire failing around and suddenly I’m heading at the barrier and I just went like this (motions flicking the wheel) and missed it! I went down through the Esses and I stopped at the corner going on to the straight, got out, and in the toolkit we had a hand saw, a hacksaw blade with duct tape wrapped around it. I cut the tire off the rim and it took me… forever. Then, I drove it, on the rim, 7 miles back to the pits. Cars are going past me at 200 miles an hour (chugging sound as the car bounces along the verge). I thought, ‘this is it’, but they fixed it, unbelievable! And about midnight, we’d come back. We’d actually come up the field, about 20th or so, rain pouring down, lightning. And I’m above the pits with my oldest friend in the world, Ian Green, and I’m not feeling too happy about this, I can tell you. Suddenly, on the television monitor – ‘Ickx is stopped’. That’s a pity…. 20 minutes later: ‘Ickx is going again’. Fuel pump drive belt had broken. We carried a spare and he changed it. Now, ‘Ickx is stopped again’. Now he’s at the Mulsanne corner, stopped. Oh, 25 minutes later, ‘Ickx is going again’. Now he comes in the pits and Herr Singer looks up (motions for Brian to come down). I shake hands with Ian, this is my last time, I’m dead. ‘Goodbye’ I said. ‘Goodbye’. Get in the car, drive like a maniac, doing 200 miles an hour in the pouring rain. And I’d done about 45 or 50 minutes and I get the pit signal. We normally went about an hour and a quarter between pit stops. I come in, Norbert Singer says: ‘Herr Redman, you can get out of zee car. We were disqualified one hour ago.’ (Laughs) So, they’d thrown Ickx another belt wrapped in a sandwich….
On driving the 935 and Le Mans, 1980:
BR: I started driving for Dick Barbour in 935s and Dick Barbour was a fantastic character, and ran a very good operation. Bob Garretson, in Mountain View, prepared the cars, they did a fabulous job. At Road America, Dick had said ‘Don’t touch the boost.’ So I didn’t touch it, I left it at 1.2 bar. I couldn’t understand why I was qualifying in 7th and 8th and, you know, running okay in the races. So I said to Rolf Stommelen ‘can I ask you a question?’ ‘Ja, Brian, what is it?’ I said ‘Do you ever touch the boost, you know, in qualifying?’ ‘Brian….’ he says, ‘do I ever touch zee boost? I turn it as far as it will go!’ We should have won Le Mans in 1980 in the Kremer K3. It was on pole position, although, the French authorities changed the rules after qualifying. They said, ah, it is not the fastest lap for the car. It is the average of the 3 drivers. That put a French car on pole position. It was another terrible, miserable wet race. We were leading and it went on to 5 cylinders. I remember about six in the morning, ‘cause it was light, the rain’s coming down, I just got out and I was cold and wet. But you stay for one lap just to see everything’s okay and Dick Barbour took over from me. At the end of the lap he comes in the pits and I see through the rain, his hand waving. I go ‘round to the side of the car. He said ‘Brian, you guys are paid to drive in conditions like this, get back in!’ So we finished 5th overall and first in the IMSA class.
On Pedro Rodriguez and Brian’s solo victory in a 500 KM race at Imola in 1970:
BR: People are always asking about Pedro. I only ever drove with him once and that was for Matra in 1969 (non-Championship race at Montlhery in France). About 2 years ago at Daytona there was some kind of presentation for something and there were about 10 journalists there, no spectators. But after the presentation a Mexican journalist came up – ‘Brian, did you know Pedro Rodriguez?’ I said ‘yes, yes’. “Was he a friend?’ I said “yes, kind of, much as you are with racing drivers’. He said ‘did you talk together?’ ‘Yes, yes.’ “What did he say to you?’ I said, ‘Well, we drove together for Matra in 1969 and after the race he said ‘Brian, it’s a great pleasure to drive with a driver who is almost as fast as I am!’ (huge laughter) At Imola, in 1970, it was a non-Championship, pretty long race, it was 500 kilometers, just over 300 miles. And it was hot, the 917s were hot and Pedro was in one car, I was in the other. We were driving single-handed and Pedro had an accident fairly early on. So, at the fuel stop, he’s all dressed ready to go, he rips the door open, he says ‘Get out, get out, you are very tired!’ I said “thank you very much, Pedro, I’m not tired at all, I’ll see you later!’
Brian went on to win that Imola race, the only solo driver victory for a Gulf 917, September 13th, 1970.
After Brian’s talk, he slid behind the wheel of the Gulf 917 and we think it was the first time he had sat in that particular car since the midnight hour of June 14th, 1970 at Le Mans. We got a further thrill when his left hand went to the ignition key and the big 12 cylinder rumbled to life. Brian blipped the throttle a few times and all was right with the world.
Brian Redman Talks – Redman in Redmond Photo Gallery
[Source: Jay Gillotti; photo credit: Curtis Creager]