Drivers on Drivers – The cutting room floor
Editing has begun on an exciting new book titled Drivers on Drivers, which is a series of interviews where the racing greats are encouraged to talk about their rivals and team-mates rather than themselves. Because of this, many great stories ended up on the cutting room floor, so we thought we’d publish a series of these excerpts from interviews where the drivers digress fascinatingly.
Brian Redman – interviewed by Philip Porter
PP: Of all your team-mates, who was the most fun to be around?
BR: Well, probably Jo Siffert, I think. He was always ready for a lark of some kind. In particular, I think of Spa Francorchamps in 1970 with the John Wyer Gulf 917 which effectively was the factory Porsche. We’d had considerable problems in practice. When ‘Seppi’ [Siffert’s nickname] went out he didn’t come round on the first lap and Pedro Rodríguez comes in and says, ‘Siffert has stopped up the side of the track with a flat tyre on the Masta straight’.
So they sent out a wheel, tyre, wheel brace and a jack in Pedro’s 917. Anyway, it was changed at the side of the track and when Siffert got back in he was going crazy, saying, ‘The tyre blew, the tyre blew’. And so he gets four new wheels and tyres and out he goes. And, it happened again. So when he comes back in, one of the team managers says, ‘Herr Redman, now it is your turn’.
I told them that something was clearly the matter but they just said to take it easy. Anyway, I’m building up speed and on the fourth lap I’m flat coming into the Masta kink at around 200mph, go through it, and on the return straight, after Stavelot, I’m running probably about 180 and I turn into La Carriere and it goes sideways as my left rear tyre came off the rim.
So of course I lose feeling of where I’m counter steering in relation to the angle of the car. And I’d read in a motor racing book that in that circumstance if you let go of the steering wheel the Ackermann would straighten it so I let go and it went straight. I come back into the pits and as I get out Siffert took one look at me and then fell on the floor laughing.
I said, ‘what’s the matter with you?’
He said, ‘Brian, you are the colour of your overalls’ – which, in those days, were white.
Above: According to Redman, Siffert knew how to have fun, but he was pretty handy at the serious stuff, too. Captured here hard at work in the Gulf Porsche 917KH at Watkins Glen in 1970. Photo credit: Corporate Archives Porsche AG
Anyway, after all that we won the race. At that time, it was the fastest road race ever run at an average of 149mph including pitstops. Pedro, in the other team 917, did the fastest single lap, averaging more than 160mph. The speeds were tremendous and we go to the incredibly boring prize giving in Spa where the local officials thanked themselves in some unintelligible language – it wasn’t French – and about ten o’clock it finishes and Siffert says to me, ‘Brian, we go and have a drink with the mechanics?’
I was keen, but my wife, Marion, was there with son James. James was five years old. So she wasn’t very happy when I said Siffert and I were going out for a drink with the mechanics. ‘What time will you be back?’
‘Midnight,’ I replied. Oh well, we got back at 4am. Siffert did spin turns in his Porsche 911 in the gravel forecourt of the hotel. We crawled up the stairs making so much noise that Marion refused to open the door. When the hotel manager came, it just got worse and worse. I can’t repeat all of the further shenanigans that went on.