Haywood Set for 40th and Last Rolex 24 At Daytona
Next weekend's 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona is a landmark race in North American sports car racing. It's also a career milestone for Hurley Haywood, who will be competing in his 40th Rolex 24.
It will also be his last.
"I can absolutely guarantee that this is going to be the last one," Haywood admitted. "You've heard that before, but … This being the 50th, the guys kind of twisted my arm – 'Come on, we need you for one more time,' so I said OK.
"It's an honor for me to still be able to get on the track with these guys and mix it up," Haywood added. "I'm not as fast as some of them, but I'm plenty fast for a 24-hour race. I certainly have the experience on my side to avoid some of the pitfalls that the other guys will have during the race."
As far as Haywood is concerned, much of the work for the Rolex 24 is already completed.
"A lot of the mystery is the preparation that you need to get through a 24-hour race," he explained. "Brumos is one of the teams that typically has all the right ingredients. We proved last year that even though we hadn't raced a GT car since the early Nineties, it didn't take us long to get back into stride. We came on strong and ended up winning the championship.
"We at Brumos have years and years of experience. I've been doing this for 40 years, and Brumos has been on my suit all 40 years. We know what we're doing."
With that said, Haywood admits that the 2012 field is one of the toughest in the history of the storied event.
"It's phenomenal that we've got so many great teams and so many great drivers for this race," Haywood said. "It's a 'Who's Who' of sportscar racing. It's nice that we've got that kind of depth – not only do we have that in the DP cars, but also the GT cars. It's going to make our job a lot more difficult with 45 good GT teams. Everybody has the potential to win. I think the Ferraris and Audis have a proven record and can go the distance, the Porsche contingent is very strong, and the Camaros are very good – the 88 car gave us fits last year. It's going to be a real battle out there."
If preparation is one of the keys for Haywood, he added another clue for the race itself.
"The guy that's going to win this race is the guy that makes the least amount of mistakes," Haywood said. "It's that way from day one when I started racing. Peter Gregg was a real perfectionist. He not only did a great job driving, but he also did a great job in preparation, and that's a lot of the battle here."
Haywood and Gregg came from underdogs to winners in the 1973 classic in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Carrera 911 RSR. This year, Haywood joins Andrew Davis, Leh Keen and Marc Lieb in the No. 59 Brumos 911 GT3 Cup that carries an identical paint scheme with the team's trademark blue and red stripes in his quest for one final Rolex Daytona Cosmograph.