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Haywood closes chapter at the Rolex 24 at Daytona

Five Rolex 24 At Daytona victories with Porsche
Saturday, January 30, 2010

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Hurley Haywood
In motorsports the term legend is often used to describe race car drivers who have achieved greatness in their careers. However, a true legend also exhibits grace and class, and Hurley Haywood, described as a one-of-a-kind driver and gentleman, is just such a legend having won the admiration not only of race fans but also fellow competitors.

After four decades, Haywood remains active as a professional race driver despite stepping down from a full-time driving role in 2008. A native of Chicago, Ill., now residing in Ponte Vedra, Fla., he currently is Vice President of Brumos Motor Cars, Inc. of Jacksonville. Hurley drove for Brumos in select endurance races in 2009, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona where he finished third and in the Grand-Am finale at Homestead, Fla., Haywood stepped in for J.C. France at the last moment, and, with Joao Barbosa, rode the #59 Brumos Porsche/Riley to victory. While he will drive in the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona, for all other races going forward he will work on race strategy and planning for the team. He also serves as Chief Driving Instructor for the Porsche Driving Experience.

Winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona five times, the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, and the 12 Hours of Sebring twice has made Haywood one of the world's most-accomplished drivers. He was the first to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year. “Compared to Le Mans, I think the Rolex 24 At Daytona is more difficult to win,” said Haywood. “The track is bumpier, you race more hours in darkness, the banking is tricky, and the speed difference between the various classes of competing cars is greater. Passing in all that traffic can be a real challenge.” Only Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen, a native of Denmark and eight-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has won more endurance classics than Haywood.

Hurley Haywood's first win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona was in 1973 with Peter Gregg (R)
When asked if there was a particular race or event that stood out in his memory as being most significant, Hurley said “I have been really lucky to have won the Rolex 24 At Daytona five times and every one of those five wins have been very special. This is my 37th or 38th time at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and each one of those races were special, so to pick just one as being special is difficult. As far as a race that put my name on the map, the 1973 win with Peter (Gregg) in the Porsche RS. It was totally unexpected and was certainly the foundation of my career. We then went to back up that with a win at Sebring which gave us back to back wins at the two most important endurance races in America. Back then it was just two guys driving and that alone is a pretty monumental feat. The 1977 win was very rewarding because I ended up doing an eight-hour shift at night because my co-drivers did not like driving at night. I would come into the pits, jump out and switch helmets, and get back in. IMSA may have known what I was doing but I guess they kind of just overlooked it. So each win has its special qualities but when it comes down to it, it’s the people involved who make it memorable. I have been lucky to have raced for teams I really got along with very well. I got along with the other drivers, the engineers and the crews. I have spent the vast percentage of my professional career with Brumos teams and it has been a very nice association.”

Car Number: 59 Team: Brumos Racing Car: Porsche Riley Drivers: Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ) David Donohue (Malvern, PA) Hurley Haywood (Ponte Vedra, FL) Butch Leitzinger (Rebersburg, PA) Raphael Matos (Miami, FL) 3
When asked if he had advice for up-and-coming drivers with a desire to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona he said “One of the things Peter taught me was even if you have the best car and the best team, if you are impatient and make mistakes by being too aggressive you can never make that lost time back up on the track, especially in this day and age when the cars are so reliable and driver caliber so good. An unscheduled pit stop is a death blow -- you just cannot make that time up on the race track. You have to sense that delicate balance between a good lap time and a safe lap time. When I was racing full time in the 70s, 80s and 90s I knew everyone on the race track but with the evolution of the sport and the changing faces of the sport, probably 70% of the guys out there I don’t know. What that means is that every time you come up to a car you have no idea who is driving it, so you get the mindset that you can’t trust anybody and you prepare for disaster so it’s interesting to see how well that works. Some guys know how to adapt and have a sort of sixth sense about when to display caution -- and other drivers don’t seem to be able to grasp that.”

“When I announced several months ago that I was going to retire nobody took me seriously,” said Haywood about his impending retirement. “They said ‘yeah, yeah, yeah we’ve heard that before.’ Race car drivers, as with other sports people, are prone to saying they will retire and then someone comes along and offers them a great deal and they then come out of retirement. I don’t think that will be the case with me. I want to retire at a high point in my career. I helped win the last race at Homestead and I have to be honest with myself. To be competitive in this sport you have to make a commitment in time to do physical training, to be in the car all the time, to do dieting. At this point in my life and with my schedule being what it is with all my other responsibilities, I cannot commit that time. I will still come to the races, but I just won’t have the fun of driving. I just have to be honest with myself and not cross the line because it wouldn’t be fair to me or to the people I race for to just sort of do it and not be 100% serious about it. I want to be remembered for being competitive.”

For the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which will be his last race, Haywood will be in the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche/Riley with fellow drivers and defending champions David Donohue (Malvern, Penn.) and Darren Law (Phoenix, Arizona), as well as three-time champion Butch Leitzinger (Rebersburg, Penn.) and Raphael Matos (Miami, Fla.). “I am trying not to,” said Haywood when asked if he felt more pressure than usual for a podium finish. “But the pressure is a personal pressure because I really want to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona a sixth time. I’ve kind of stacked the deck with a great driver line-up and all the guys I really like, I know them personally and it’s a good match. The team is well prepared and we have done everything humanly possible. I have to leave it in the hands of fate and hopefully Lady Luck will cooperate and we will have a good result. If I don’t get it, I’m not going to brood and I’m not going to say; well I will come back again next year and try one more time. That would be foolish because if I have that attitude and I don’t win, I might stick around for another 10 years, so I’m just not going to do that. I will be 62 in May and the human body can just take so much. I have had a few accidents and your body kind of tells you when it’s had enough and you should slow down and take care of what’s left.”

“When I look back over my 40 years of racing, it’s an association closely linked with Porsche. I don’t think there are many racing drivers who have had a relationship with one manufacturer for such a long period of time. I have been honored to represent Porsche and be an ambassador for them.”

The ability to consistently be smooth and fast, coupled with his knowledge of racecars, has put Haywood in the winner’s circle time and again. With his name in numerous record books, the legendary driver will always be remembered as one of the winningest sports car drivers of all time.

Career Highlights:
2009
3rd at Rolex 24 At Daytona; Won Grand-Am finale at Homestead
2008 Competed in three endurance races of the season
2007 4th place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and 3 top six finishes for the season
2005 Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
2003 2 victories, 8 podium finishes, 3rd overall in Driver Points for Grand-Am Rolex DP Series’ inaugural season
1994 North American GT Endurance Champion
1992 Inducted into The Florida Sports Hall of Fame, runner-up SuperCar Champion
1991 Supercar Champion
1988 SCCA TransAm Champion
1981 Fastest Indy Rookie
Most road racing victories at Daytona International Speedway, all time winner of Endurance Classics at Daytona, Le Mans and Sebring, with 10 total wins; Four-time Norelco Cup Winner and two-time IMSA GT Champion; 18 Indy Car starts and three-time IROC participant
1973 first of five Rolex 24 At Daytona victories with Porsche

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