By Michelle Genz
Not much point in flashing brights or honking at the silver Land Rover easing up A1A. If the man behind the wheel is Brian Redman, he has made a career of going exactly the speed he wants. After 49 years driving the fastest cars on earth, Redman, 72, can proudly claim the title of Vero’s most accomplished Sunday driver.
He’s been called racing’s best-kept secret – and its reluctant hero. In the privacy of his top-floor riverview condo at the Moorings, or his office on Old Dixie Highway, it’s hard to imagine this silver-haired gentleman not in a business suit – but in a flame-resistant suit and helmet.
Redman’s career includes winning 15 World Championship Grand Prix races. He twice won the 12-hour race at Sebring, won Daytona’s 24-hour race three times, and took the checkered flag in a variety of other top international races as well. He drove for more than a dozen car manufacturers’ teams, including Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, and Jaguar.
Redman still suits up and races in vintage cars – in the very cars he drove years ago. That, combined with consulting and promotion, keep him busy 35 weeks out of the year. He also writes for Vintage Motorsports and Road and Track magazine.
“I’ve been very lucky to be able to carry on a very similar life to when I was a professional driver,” Redman said in an exclusive interview with our sister publication, Vero Beach 32963.
Last month, he won his class in what he says is “the finest vintage car race in America” in Monterrey, California, driving a 1971 Porsche 908/3, the fleet little swallow of a car.
Just as Redman was finally retiring from professional racing twenty years ago, vintage racing was coming on the scene, and he promptly jumped back in the driver’s seat. Redman soon realized that people who owned collectible cars, both vintage and modern high-performance, wanted places to drive them without necessarily racing.
So in 1991, he created a club called Targa Sixty Six. For a $500 annual fee, and $1,500 for two people per weekend, drivers can suit up and take a spin full-out in their own sports car without fear of being bumped, with track marshals watching and an ambulance at the ready.
The weekends include a coat-and-tie Saturday night dinner, as well as driving lessons. The next event is coming up in Savannah in October; closer to Vero, there will be a weekend in February at the Palm Beach International Raceway.
Redman typically books himself for the evening entertainment. Tanned, relaxed and apparently contented, Redman speaks with the old-shoe accent of his northern England origins.
Studying the man in his elegant office beside a tire store on Old Dixie Highway, it is hard to recognize the world-class racecar driver in dozens of framed postersized photographs, helmeted and hunkered down in a machine that resembles motorized molten meringue.
“It’s a feeling of balance,” Redman says, reflecting on both the sensation that thrills him and the skills that have saved him so many times. “When you’re driving a racing car on the edge, it’s balance. You’re just on the point of sliding off the road. And you have to keep it like that,” he says.
Redman is kept balanced by Marion, his wife of 48 years. Daughter Charlotte, 41, born while Redman raced at the 24 Hours of Daytona, has a nine-year-old daughter, Victoria Redman-Rogers; son James, 44, married to Realtor and professional polo commentator Dawn Redman, sells highend vintage sports cars from a business on Oslo Road.
It was Charlotte who drew the rest of the family here a decade ago. Now a single mom, she had married into an old Vero family – one whose patriarch, Jim Rogers, raced cars himself.
Today, Redman’s races rarely last more than 30 minutes. But at his zenith, he was a master of endurance racing before retiring at the age of 52.
Today, the paltry 40,000 miles he has put on his six-year-old Land Rover were nearly all amassed driving to the Orlando airport, he says. The drive is a far cry from his career record speed of 230 miles per hour for four miles straight in a Porsche 917, back in 1969.
“I don’t drive it hard,” he says. “I never go above 78 on the freeway.”