ENDURANCE RACING LEGEND HURLEY HAYWOOD IS GRAND MARSHAL Company press release.
Endurance racers are a breed unto themselves. To drive a race car at speeds approaching 200 mph for hours on end over a challenging circuit such as Daytona International Speedway, home of the iconic Rolex 24 At Daytona, necessitates stamina and a unique skill set. Rarer still are the racers who make it into the history books, and, in the case of Hurley Haywood, his numerous entries in the history books have elevated his status to the stuff of legends. A year ago when Haywood took a step back from driving, he became the natural choice to give the command 'drivers, start your engines' as Grand Marshal for the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona.
'It is a different role, but it is one that I really enjoy actually,' said Haywood. 'They've also been keeping me so busy with all the duties that I really haven't been able to think about the not driving part of it.'
A number of Haywood's cars are on display in the Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition. 'I walked through and looked at each one and each brings back a wonderful memory,' said Haywood of the cars that span his more than 40-year driving career.
'What I miss most about the driving part is that time right before you get into the car where you have butterflies in your stomach… your stomach is in a knot. You have all these questions about 'is the car up to the test, am I good enough today, am I going to kill myself,' all these things go through your mind, and it's kind of a really wonderful rush kind of feeling. And then, as soon as you get into the car and strap your helmet on and start the car up, you pull up on the pace lap and all that sort of goes by the wayside. You relax and everything comes into focus. I miss that part.'
At the briefing shortly before the cars started the gridding process, the five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona Champion spoke to the drivers. 'It feels very strange to be standing here this year. For so many years I sat where you are sitting. Have fun, be safe, and be ladies and gentlemen out there.'
Managing the team at Brumos Racing, which is running the #59 Porsche GT3 Cup car, will also keep Haywood busy for the next 24 hours. 'We've got a good team and four really strong drivers (Leh Keen, Andrew Davis, Marc Lieb and Bryan Sellers). When you look at the competiveness of the GT field especially it's really tight, so if I had to pick a year to step aside this was probably a good choice to do it.'
Haywood has raced the Rolex 24 At Daytona 42 times and has, since his last win in 1991, held an unbroken five wins record. Along with those wins at Daytona International Speedway, Haywood has three wins of the 24 Heures du Mans and two wins of the 12 Hours of Sebring. As the winner of more endurance races than any other driver, Haywood has rightfully earned the title of legend.
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Rolex has been a partner of the Daytona International Speedway since its earliest beginnings, and title sponsor of the Rolex 24 At Daytona since 1992. A Press Pack about the Rolex 24 At Daytona is available to download here and Photo Story highlighting the race's heritage and atmosphere is available to view here.
Further information on the Rolex 24 At Daytona may be found at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com and http://www.grand-am.com.