Autobiography of Jim Redman: Six Times World Motorcycle Champion

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9781901295351: Autobiography of Jim Redman: Six Times World Motorcycle Champion

Jim Redman won World Championships six times in the 250cc and 350cc class during the Golden Era of motorcycle racing. This is the extraordinary life story of the penniless orphan and colonial adventurer who, aboard the most glamorous racing motorcycles, roared to six World Championships and won for himself the reputation of hard man of the race track and shrewd professional of the paddock.

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About the Author:

Jim Redman is one GP racing's true legends. From humble beginnings in Hampstead Heath, he emigrated to South Africa, where he began his racing career, going on win six World Championships. In 1964 he was awarded an MBE, but his racing career was cut short following a crash during the '66 Belgian GP. After a range of business ventures, including supporting his two sons' own sports careers, he once again took up racing, in the form of Classic Racing, in 2004.

Review:

Classic MotorCycle, December 2008
UK magazine
 

Six times World Champion Jim Redman, many people will be surprised to learn, was born in Hampstead, West London on 8th November, 1931. A bright student, he reluctantly had to leave grammar school at 15 "because the family needed the money" and started work as a motor mechanic. Taken for pillion rides by colleagues, Jim soon became an avid enthusiast and started a morning newspaper round, and later repaired neighbours' cars to pay for his first bike, an ex-WD girder-forked Matchless. Tragedy struck the Redmans when Jim was just over 16 when both parents died within a month of each other. Jim resolved to keep the family together by working long hours while his older sister looked after the 10-year-old twins. With National Service looming Redman joined a friend in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), eventually starting his own motor-cycle repair business.

His first race there was on a borrowed Triumph Grand Prix, followed by an International Norton, scoring his first win in 1955 after purchasing a 1951 AJS 7R. Determined to turn professional, after winning the South African 350cc Championship he set off for Europe with his friend Paddy Driver and it was Jim who stunned everybody at a star-studded 1958 Easter meeting at Brands Hatch by finishing second to Derek Minter. Other similar results followed riding a brace of Nortons and a 125cc Ducati. Jim’s first ride for Honda came in the 1960 Dutch TT, standing in for friend Tom Phillis, who was unfit. Hondas at that time were not terribly quick and not many of the top runners wanted to know them. However Jim’s loyalty paid off and his tenacious yet intelligent riding style was rewarded by a team place and resulted in three 250 and three 350cc World Championships plus runner-up in the 125cc class to Luigi Taveri.

During 1957 Redman met a young English rider who had gone over to South Africa with Dave Chadwick to gain experience. He had been riding a 250cc NSU Sportmax, but told Jim that he was too nervous to ride his new 350 Manx Norton. His name was Michael Hailwood ... they later became team-mates, fierce rivals and great friends. Giacomo Agostini said he was one of his toughest opponents and he admired him for making racing both a business and a pleasure, setting new standards in getting the best deal possible from race organisers.

A successful businessman and also a very good writer, Jim Redman was awarded the MBE in 1971. This is an excellent book and an unrivalled narrative of the life of a professional road racer.

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