Interview with Nine-Time Road-Racing Champion Brian Redman on the Pace Grand Prix at The Bend

Aug 22, 2023

Circuit revamped and resurfaced to host Targa Sixty Six track action at the fourth annual event in Tennessee’s Scenic City.

For the third year, on October 13 and 14, the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, Sponsored by Millennium Bank, will host high-speed track action on its purpose-built race track known as the Pace Grand Prix at The Bend. The course was named in honor of the late Jim Pace, one of the event’s first organizers. Pace passed away in 2020.

Brian Redman’s Targa Sixty Six will present this year’s on-track activities. They will feature historic and modern sports and race cars running full tilt on the newly revamped and resurfaced circuit located on private industrial property. The Bend is known locally as “a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable community connected to the Tennessee River.”

Certain sections of the approximately two-mile course, with 15 turns, including the now famous “Alley of the Greats,” have been modified. Despite the changes, the track maintains its integrity as a circuit reminiscent of the iconic European tracks of the past and present and the historic road and newer street courses of the United States.

We sat down with Englishman Brian Redman, the Festival’s Grand Ambassador, who has raced on nearly every circuit in the world since he began competing in 1959, to talk with him about the qualities, personality and physical aspects of this year’s circuit, where his famed Targa Sixty Six Club program will be showcased. Redman’s most famous street-course victory came in 1975 at the inaugural Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix, driving a Lola T332 in the Formula 5000 Series.

 Q. Please tell us what you know about this year’s Pace Grand Prix at The Bend race track and what makes it different from last year?

A. I can tell you that this track will definitely honor the spirit of the cars we used to race, evoking memories from the past, and is a true street circuit. It will be quite different this year because they’ve cut out the public roads, which were a source of some difficulties the last couple of years. There will be areas which are a bit like the old types of tracks. When I say the old types of tracks, I mean tracks like the Nürburgring in Germany, which I first raced on in 1968. It was 14 and a half miles to one lap with 154 corners. I wouldn’t compare the Pace GP track to the Nürburgring, but, certainly, on the Nürburgring in those days, in quite a heavy car like the Ford GT 40, the car was in the air 12 times a lap. I’ll guarantee you that at Chattanooga this year there won’t be any flying cars in the air.

Q. What other experiences have you had at race tracks around the world?

A. In those days there were no barriers and there were no curbs at the Nürburgring. So the whole 14 and a half miles included hedges round the sides and they were barriers. So the car owner said to me, ‘Brian, you see all these little bushes round the track?’ And I said yes. He said, ‘just remember that underneath them is a hundred feet of trunk.’ Also in the old days, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, we went to the Targa Florio in Sicily. Well, that was 44 miles to one circuit with over 700 corners. And we came across donkeys and sheep and goats and people all around the track. I promise you that at Chattanooga this year we will not have sheep and goats on the circuit!

Q. What can you say about the track design?

A. Of course, great precautions are being made to make sure that the track is nice and safe. But it’s still a street track when all is said and done. It’s a typical street course, with concrete walls around most of it. Today, there are street races in such cities as Nashville, Toronto, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami for NASCAR, F1 and IndyCar racing. Of course, there’s Monte Carlo in Monaco in May for both the historic races and for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. I raced there a couple of times in a McLaren M19 and a UOP Shadow.

Q. Can you compare the Pace GP course to any other course in the U.S.?

A. The Pace GP track today is approximately two miles long, so it’s a reasonable length for good racing. Of course, you can race and demonstrate cars on shorter tracks, but this is a good distance, giving all competitors ample track time during the Targa Sixty Six high-speed track action at the Festival, and it gives the spectators something to watch.

Many years ago, in the mid-’80s, I was racing for the Group 44 Jaguar team and we actually had a street race in Columbus, Ohio. In many ways, the Pace GP track is quite reminiscent of that, as you shot over manhole covers and that kind of thing. It was of similar length.

Q. What has the Festival done to update the surface of the track this year?

A. The track has definitely been updated. The public road part of it has been taken out and the Festival crew have redesigned that part of it. The track is basically smooth most of the way around, with just a couple of slightly bumpier bits, just like the tracks of the old days. I think we’ll see from this year onwards a great improvement in the general track conditions, thanks to the Festival’s determination to make the track fun and suitable for all types of vintage, historic and even contemporary race cars.

Q. What will the Targa Sixty Six entrants this year expect from the Pace GP track?

A. We started the Targa Club 32 years ago. It was basically for people who were getting out of racing, as they were getting older. It has evolved over the years and so the drivers this year in Chattanooga can expect a lot of track time in the two days of action – roughly two hours each day for each group. And, believe me, by the end of the day on Saturday, they will be worn out.

Q. Should the car owners prepare their cars differently for this track?

A. I don’t think the car owners need to make any changes to the cars as per normal. In the past, at Daytona International Speedway, with its steep banking, there was always talk about changing the car. In fact, in 1969, the Porsche factory, without telling the drivers, lowered the left-hand side of the car, hoping it would make it more stable on the banking. It didn’t make any difference. So, over the years at Daytona we never made any real changes to accommodate the banking. I think the same thing applies to Chattanooga this year. The car owners and drivers don’t need to make any specific changes to their cars.

Q. What precautions would you recommend the Targa Sixty Six drivers take?

A. The track is, of course, a street track so a certain amount of care needs to be taken to stay away from the concrete walls, but there are areas where it is exceptionally wide, providing ample overtaking opportunities.

Q. What other safety factors are incorporated in the Pace GP track?

A. For race and event organizers, one of the objectives is to try and reduce any potential danger areas by perhaps slowing the cars down in certain places at the end of the straights. We’ve seen this in racing in general for the past 10, 20 years. As the cars got faster and faster and the tires got bigger and bigger and the road holding became twice, three times as great as it was in the early ’70s, they put in chicanes everywhere. Many of the older courses, such as Silverstone in England and Imola in Italy, have introduced chicanes to slow the cars down at the very high-speed parts of the track. We will be doing that in Chattanooga as well, in turns 10 and 11.

Q. What are your final comments about the Pace GP track and the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival?

A. You can be sure that the public, the spectators and the drivers will all have a great time going to the track on Friday and Saturday and watching these fabulous cars tearing around at high speed. They will also enjoy the other weekend events, including The B52s concert on Friday, along with the Luftgekühlt event that evening, the concours, and so many other family-friendly activities throughout the weekend.

The Alley of the Greats at the 2022 Pace Grand Prix at The Bend. (Chattanooga Motorcar Festival image)

Chattanooga is known for its interactive attractions that include the Creative Discovery Museum, High Point Climbing, an IMAX movie theater, a variety of shopping options, and the award-winning Tennessee Aquarium. All activities are walkable from the main event and the host hotel, The Westin, making it perfect for families of every age to enjoy.

Tickets to the Fourth Annual Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, sponsored by Millennium Bank, and the Friday night concert with The B-52s may be purchased here. at https://www.showclix.com/event/chattanooga-motorcar-festival-2023.

Event tickets allow access to all the Festival events, including the Concours d’Elegance and the awards ceremony on Sunday, the Mecum Auctions on Friday and Saturday at the Convention Center, high-speed track action at the Pace Grand Prix at The Bend, and other events in West Village and nearby locations.

Festival Ticket prices are:

  • Three-Day Festival Ticket – $120.00
  • Friday All-Day Festival Ticket – $89.00
  • Friday Festival Day Ticket – $44.00
  • Friday Evening Festival Ticket – $65.00
  • Saturday Festival Ticket – $65.00
  • Sunday Festival Ticket – $65.00

Children under the age of 12 are allowed entry free of charge, if accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.

A full weekend of events includes:

  • Targa Sixty Six high-speed track action for historic and modern sports and race cars at the Pace Grand Prix at The Bend
  • Canossa Fall Rally Chattanooga
  • Mecum Auctions
  • Concours d’Elegance
  • Luftgekühlt’s celebration of Brian Redman
  • Car Club gatherings
  • Saturday evening fundraiser, “Unlock My Brain” (separate/additional ticket required)
  • Friday night concert with The B-52s
  • Torque Show with Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall
  • Panel discussions and other entertainment on the Main Stage throughout the weekend
  • J. Willard Marriott Club display of historic Ferraris
  • Gathering of the Greats – Porsche Edition
  • Family-friendly activities for all

Registration is open for these 2023 Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, Sponsored by Millennium Bank, events:

Registration for Mecum Chattanooga 2023 is open at https://www.mecum.com/auctions/chattanooga-2023/.

Event media credentials may be requested at www.chattanoogamotorcar.com/media.

Details on each event may be found at www.chattanoogamotorcar.com.

A gallery of images for the 2022 Festival, for editorial use only, may be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0jh6f72ex4s54uh/AADufqXTOgmMWPL751A8dqPsa?dl=0. Please credit Chattanooga Motorcar Festival.

About Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, Sponsored by Millennium Bank:

Proceeds from the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival, sponsored by Millennium Bank, support neuroscience research through Fifty Plus Foundation, Inc. Approaching 13 years of supporting Alzheimer’s and neuroscience research, Fifty Plus Foundation created the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival to bring both local and global support to back research that is already making a difference in saving lives. Learn more at chattanoogamotorcar.com.