Jim Redman: The Autobiography
The 1960s saw sweeping changes and the emergence of legendary champions in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Names such as Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood, Gary Hocking, Carlo Ubbiali, Phil Read, John Surtees, Luigi Taveri, and Jim Redman are etched in the annals of motorcycle road racing history as world champions.
Redman’s rise to world-class prominence in international motorcycle GP racing would seem unlikely at best when you read the second chapter of his book “Jim Redman-Six Times World Champion, The Autobiography,” captioned “Hard Years.”
His youth was tough to say the least with a childhood in England that included enduring the Nazi air raids during the Battle of Britain, his father’s long separation from the family while he was in service during the war and resulting terrible strife at home in the post-war years.
Finances were very tight and keeping the family together after the death of his father and soon after, his mother, fell to Redman, not yet 18 and his older sister. Well-meaning bureaucrats sought to remove his younger twin siblings to foster care, but Redman would have none of it. With grit and hard work, Redman and his sister scraped together enough money to pay the bills and kept the family together.
Times were very tough for any working family in England in the post-war years and it was not uncommon for Britons to look to Rhodesia for new opportunities. When the family was again confronted with potential for fragmentation and even more financial hardship by the possibility of Redman’s conscription into the Army as soon as he reached draft age, he made the decision to go to Rhodesia, make a new start and earn enough money to move the entire family there.
Despite his youth and having to start over in a foreign land, Redman made it happen. The grit and inventive thinking it took foreshadowed the qualities Redman would bring to bear in building his racing career that resulted in six world championships and his being decorated Member of the British Empire (MBE).
Redman’s autobiography takes the reader along on what was at times a very rocky ride, both personally and professionally through his career. Perhaps no year epitomizes how extreme the highs and lows of professional motorcycle racing was for him more than 1962, the year of his first world championships:
“At the end of the 1962 season I was at last crowned double World Champion in the 250 and 350 categories—the dream had become a reality after so much hard work and dedication. The victories tasted a little bitter however as I had that year lost three of my best friends. I would gladly have exchanged my two titles for the lives of Tom Phillis, Bob McIntyre, and Gary Hocking.”
Despite his soaring success on the racetrack, Redman would experience devastating losses in his life in the years after he quit racing. The death of his long-time friend and most challenging competitor on the track, Mike Hailwood in a 1981 automobile accident rocked him to the core and unexpected family and financial problems created stress he would have never anticipated.
In true Redman fashion, he has prevailed over all losses and challenges. How remarkable was Jim Redman the racer? He says it best himself:
“I know my record of six World Championships, six Isle of Man TT wins, 46 Grand Prix wins and 97 podiums, and I am very proud, especially of being the first rider to win three Grand Prix in one day.”
Any fan of motorcycle racing will find Jim Redman: Six Times World Champion absorbing; any fan of true stories of grit and determination overcoming impossible odds will find it hard to put down.
- Title: Jim Redman-Six Times World Motorcycle Champion
- Author: Jim Redman
- Published: 2016 paperback, 1st printing 1998. 301 pages. 6” x 9” 100 black & white images.
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England. www.veloce.co.uk and www.velocebooks.com Distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group, USA. Contact Quarto via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone: 1-612-344-8100 and online at: www.quartoknows.com.
- ISBN: 978-1-787110-44-1 MSRP: U.S. $35.00 U.K. £19.99 Canada: $46.00
Other books about the golden age of motorcycle GP racing that we’ve reviewed include: