Looking back on a Brilliant Career . . . Photo and Story by: Hal Crocker
In the wet at dawn on the banks of Daytona, Haywood was in his element, delivering another stellar performance with a Porsche 935.
H URLEY H AYWOOD One Photographer’s Personal Recollections of the Most Successful American Endurance Racer of All Time STORY AND PHOTOS BY HAL CROCKER “You have to be pretty good to beat me!” This statement of was not only a fast learner but also fast. On a track that Gregg hubris from Peter Gregg in 1968 launched the career of America’s knew well, Haywood, with his new car, was faster than he was. winningest long-distance racer, Hurley Harris Haywood. Before the sun set that day, Peter Gregg, recognizing innate talent Haywood, the kid with movie-star looks, had just won an when he saw it, hired Hurley Haywood, a green college kid with autocross in his street-legal Corvette, beating local Porsche dealer no race experience, to be his new co-driver. Of course, Hurley and professional racecar driver Gregg in his full-bore, factory- would have to pay his own way. Yes, you might say Gregg was a backed Porsche. Gregg was using the event as a pre-race little slick. shakedown of his car, and what he discovered that day would Hurley, now Gregg’s protégé and taking cues from him, convinced his family that international sportscar racing was not make motorsport history. beneath the family stature and Gregg had much panache brokered a deal with his father. and a rather artificial personality. “I convinced my father that He was an artisan, but you never it would be a good idea if he were quite sure of what. He helped me to do this program,” tested and evaluated all that he came in contact with and he says. “We made an agreement quickly discarded anyone or that he would help fund it and if anything for which he had no I were not successful enough to use. He carried preppie to the compete on my own in two years, extreme, from the handkerchief I would have to go do something he wore around his neck to his more reasonable.” Gucci driving shoes. Some drivers I knew bore great Playing the Rules resentment toward him and Whether you were a member referred to him as “Peter of Gregg’s clique or not, you had Perfect.” He took delight in to give him credit for nerve. abusing everyone. I know of no At Daytona in 1971, Haywood shared this Brumos Porsche 914/6 Peter knew that you could apply one who knew him who did not with Gregg, but retired at three-quarters distance with engine failure. to NASCAR and get a Grand experience this. National license through the Haywood disrespected Gregg and his Porsche, not only by mail. Bill France, president of NASCAR, looking to elevate the beating them, but by doing it with a street Corvette. Gregg put his status of NASCAR, had cut a deal with the Fédération pride aside for the moment and went over to congratulate his new Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the international nemesis. For Gregg, this was probably more a mission of G-2 sanctioning body for auto racing, to get FIA sanction for his (intelligence gathering) than good sportsmanship. Gregg, an ex- events. Part of the deal was that NASCAR would have to run a Navy intelligence officer, soon found out that Haywood was the certain number of FIA graded drivers in its races in order to get scion of a wealthy Chicago family and was in Jacksonville, FIA sanction, thus the conduit to the FIA license. Once Florida, going to school. Haywood got his NASCAR license, Gregg had him apply to the Sensing lucre, Gregg wasted no time in taking Haywood FIA for an FIA license using the Grand National license. Not under his wing and selling him a Porsche factory racecar. Part of only was Gregg slick, he was also crafty. the deal was that Gregg would teach Haywood something about With his new FIA license and no race experience, Hurley road racing. When the car arrived, the two went up to Roebling arrived with Gregg at Watkins Glen for the FIA-sanctioned Six Road, a road course just outside of Savannah, Georgia. Haywood Hours. This was a big-time professional road race that was part (Opposite) This photo montage shows (clockwise from bottom) Haywood in Bruce Leven’s Porsche 956, at Porsche-palooza in 1981, all smiles after his third victory at Le Mans in 1994, and celebrating one of his Rolex 24 at Daytona triumphs in the Brumos Carrera RSR with Peter Gregg.
(Above) Haywood didn’t race only GT cars, and as seen here at Laguna Seca, took this Porsche 917/10 to 3 in the Can-Am points in 1973 with a best finish of 2 at Riverside. (Below) That same year he joined Gregg in this Carrera RSR for the first of his five Daytona 24-hour triumphs—by 22 laps! rd
of the international World Manufacturers Championship that was hosted and co-sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The FIA license was at the top of the hierarchy, like a trump card. Not only did Hurley and Peter run the race, they won the GT class, beating out all the bigger Corvettes with a little Porsche 911S that had about half the engine displacement. Hurley’s international professional driving career no sooner got out of the blocks than it was derailed by a tour of duty in Vietnam. A short-haired Haywood was still in the U.S. Army when I first met him at Virginia International Raceway in April 1971. He was there co-driving with Gregg in a Porsche 914/6. They won that race; again beating out a number of largerdisplacement Corvettes. After the race I remember watching Hurley light a cigarette in pit lane and thinking he had a James Dean-type quality. At that time little did I suspect how intertwined our lives would become over the next four decades; Hurley Jaguar’s first becoming attemptan at international Le Mans came road-racing in 1950, with superstar a trio of works-built, and me a professional motorsports photojournalist.
Teamed with Al Holbert and car owner Bruce Leven in this Bayside Porsche 935 for the 12 Hours, Haywood claimed his second Sebring success in 1981.
Moving forward, he tackled the original Can-Am series in ’73 and ’74 with a Brumos Porsche 917-10, collecting a handful of podium finishes behind the wheel of the most powerful car he had yet driven. In 1975, he and Gregg again paired to win Daytona in a Porsche 911 RSR entered by Brumos. For 1976, though, Gregg brokered a deal to drive for BMW. This was, for Peter, a “have your cake and eat it too” deal, for it left him able to enter a Brumos Porsche for Hurley and Jim Busby. Gregg won in the factory BMW and the Brumos Porsche finished 3 . This put Gregg in a class by himself with three Daytona 24 Hour wins.
For the next five years, Haywood would drive exclusively for Gregg in Porsche factory-backed cars, claiming back-to-back IMSA GT championships in 1971 and 1972. He and Gregg started 1973 by winning the Daytona 24 Hours. Mark Donohue and George Follmer were in a Roger Penske-entered sister car, but they would go out after leading, leaving Gregg and Haywood to win. This time they not only beat a field of larger cars, but also a number of other factory entries. The next month they followed up by winning the most prestigious sportscar race in North America, the 12 Hours of Sebring. I remember Hurley lighting a cigarette in victory circle and thinking that this was the only flaw I could see in this well-polished denizen of the Porsche camp. He was what Gregg was not, a very likeable chap. These were big wins for Hurley, and elevated him to a new level in the hierarchy of professional drivers.
Out of the Shadow Hurley then left Greg and joined Bruce Leven’s Bayside team, winning the 1977 Daytona 24 Hour in the Bayside Porsche 935 to tie Gregg’s three wins. In June of that year, Haywood would achieve his highest level yet by becoming the first man to win the 24-hour races at both Daytona and Le Mans in the same year. Without question, Hurley had broken out of Gregg’s shadow and entered the top echelon of international road racing. For Daytona in 1978, Gregg entered a factory-backed Porsche 935-77A with world-class FIA-graded co-drivers Rolf Stommelen and Toine Hezemans. Once again, Gregg produced a winning combination and, once again, found himself all alone with four Daytona wins. Haywood had won at Daytona in ’73, ’75 and ’77, so since ’79 was an odd year, if the pattern held it would be a Haywood year. Ted Field capitalized on this by hiring
Haywood contested the Super Vee development series in 1973, and here his Tui BH3 (#76) leads the pack through the hairpin at Laguna Seca. A week later, 400 miles to the south at Ontario Motor Speedway, he took the victory.
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Although he may have retired from professional racing, Hurley continues to stay active in vintage events, sometimes even driving this Brumos Porsche 914/6 that the team has recently re-acquired and restored.
he notes. “He was like a good coach. We understood each other. We got along great. I loved driving for him.” One incident from their time together brings a smile to my face. I was working for Mike Cook, Jaguar public relations, doing Jaguar’s race photography. We were in West Palm Beach for an IMSA race. Hurley was leading with three laps to go when he got blocked by a backmarker. Chip Robinson, an ex-Group 44 driver, was running on Hurley’s tail. Chip took advantage of the situation and slipped his Holbert Porsche 962 inside of Hurley to snatch the lead. I was standing next to Tullius at the time. With the cold flint face of a high-stakes poker player, he keyed the mike on his headset and said, “I don’t want to hear any excuses.” On the next lap Hurley returned the favor, right in front of one of the main grandstands, to secure the win. Afterward, Hurley told me: “It was great because I could see the whole grandstand come to their feet as I made the pass.” At the end of the two-year Jaguar program with Group 44, Hurley stayed with Tullius, who was by then running Audi’s North American racing program. That continuance meant success, this time with Haywood claiming the 1988 Trans-Am title. The end of Audi’s Trans-Am program in 1989 also marked the end of Group 44 as an active player in big-time professional racing. Tullius was starting to feel the years and did not need the politics or pressure, so he elected to walk away and go build a base camp in Sebring, Florida, where he still plays with his airplanes and cats. It also marked the end of Hurley straying from the Porsche marque when road racing. Reinhold Joest’s Porsche 962 delivered Haywood to the Daytona 24 Hours winner’s circle in 1991—his record fifth win in the classic race. That November, he capped off his year by winning the IMSA Supercar Championship and securing the manufacturers championship for Porsche. Haywood would get his tenth win in the triad of classics in June of 1994, claiming Le Mans again in a Dauer Porsche 962. This would be the last win of a major race for the 962, the most successful sports racing car ever built.
Haywood’s association with Bob Tullius and Group 44 led directly to him winning the SCCA’s 1988 Trans-Am championship with this Audi quattro. 56
Haywood would get his tenth win in the triad of classics in June of 1994, claiming Le Mans again in a Dauer Porsche 962. This would be the last win of a major race for the 962, the most successful sports racing car ever built. Calling it a Day In recent years, Hurley has led Brumos Porsche’s effort in GrandAm’s Daytona Prototype class, and last fall he shared victory in the season finale at Daytona with Joao Barbosa. At the end of the 19 hour in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, however, Haywood stepped out of the cockpit of the Brumos Riley-Porsche and into the life of a retired racing driver. In doing so he closed the book on a career that, among many other accomplishments, leaves him ranked second only to Tom Kristensen among winners of the Big 3 Enduros. The Great Dane has 13 such triumphs, but he’s never won at Daytona. th
From a distance, Hurley has the look and demeanor of a young man. One would not think of him as a member of the older generation. Only when you get close can you see the gray in his hair and the lines behind the sunglasses. Hurley’s looks are truly deceiving, and unless you know him you would not suspect his chronological age. Even though he says he’s now retired from professional racing, he still keeps a schedule that would exhaust many younger men, and has hinted he may turn up at Daytona.... On most weekdays you can find him at the Brumos dealership, of which he is a principal, exercising his college major, business administration. When not there, chances are he’s off engaging in an activity related to Porsche. Porsche, aware of their winningest driver’s promotional and public relations value, utilizes Hurley a good number of days each year in a number of roles ranging from Chief Driving Instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School to guest speaker at gala events. Whatever the situation, Hurley is Porsche’s man for all seasons in North America. He’s also active in vintage events, often racing cars from Brumos’s collection of vintage racecars. “We have been fortunate, to buy back most of the significant racecars I have driven over the years,” he explains. “We even found my 914 down in Mexico, and now we have it restored.” So it seems that even though he may have retired from professional racing, we haven’t seen the last of Hurley Haywood anytime soon, and for that we can all be grateful.
Gregg (left) discovered Haywood (right) essentially by accident, but understood the opportunity being presented him and helped launch one of racing’s great careers. They were a formidable duo.
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Photo and Story by: Hal Crocker halcrocker.com
Hal Crocker's recollections of the most successful American endurance racer of all time.