DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Hurley Haywood will have some additional duties beyond his role with Brumos Racing during the 51st anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27.
The most successful sports car racer at Daytona International Speedway will serve as Grand Marshal and deliver the starting command, “Drivers, start your engines,” as Grand Marshal of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Haywood, who owns a record five overall Rolex 24 victories, joins a long-list of racing legends to have served as Grand Marshal including Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart, Vic Elford and Derek Bell.
“I’m going to be super busy,” said Haywood, who serves as a Vice President at Brumos and oversees the racing program. “I’m not only going to be Grand Marshal but we have our team (Brumos Racing) running.
“I’ll be with the team helping us get to Victory Lane after 24 hours and I’ll do my duties as the Grand Marshal. It’ll be a busy weekend for me. We have a lot of the vintage cars that I’ve raced coming. It’ll be a full plate. I won’t get much time to think about not driving and that’s good.”
“Hurley Haywood is the most decorated sports car racer in Speedway history,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We’re looking forward to honoring his career during the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as hearing his starting command for America’s most prestigious sports car event.”
To celebrate Haywood’s career, several of the cars he drove during his storied Rolex 24 career will be featured in the Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition inside Sprint FANZONE throughout the race weekend.
Among the cars that will be on display will be:
With a record 40 starts, Haywood, a resident of nearby Jacksonville, competed in his first Rolex 24 with the late Peter Gregg in 1971.
Haywood captured four of his five Rolex 24 victories in the 1970s, including two with Gregg in 1973 and 1975 in the Brumos Porsche 911. He also delivered an incredible eight-hour nighttime driving shift in his 1977 Rolex 24 win as his co-drivers didn’t like driving at night.
In 1991, Haywood won his fifth overall Rolex 24 in a Porsche 962, which set the mark for longest span between first and last victories in the Rolex 24 at 18 years.
Looking back on the great cars that he was able to drive in the Rolex 24, Haywood says it’s too difficult to pick out a favorite car.
“Every single one has a special place in my heart,” Haywood said. “Picking one above the other is a very difficult process. Ron Thomas is doing a replica of my ’73 wining car that’s going to be an exact replica of the car. He has done a lot of research and we have helped him get some of the parts and things that identify that car as one of our cars. I’m really looking forward to seeing that and I’ll probably drive that car in the parade laps for the vintage cars. It’s going to be cool for the fans because that commemorates our first win there in ’73. That’s cool to be able to get in a car that I won with 40 years ago.”
But as far as favorite moments in the Rolex 24, Haywood says his overall Rolex 24 victory in 1973 was pivotal in advancing his career in sports car racing.
“That win really put Peter and myself on the international map,” Haywood said. “We backed that up with winning the 12 Hours of Sebring. Those two wins back-to-back really cemented the whole future of my career and helped propel me into a position that it would have taken a whole lot longer, if I had not won that race, to get to. That was the accelerator.
“Daytona is such a special place to me. It was the first place that I had ever raced a car of any kind. It was a regional race down there when I was trying to get my regional license. So it’s nice to come back. It’s in my backyard practically. It’s nice to have such a good record there.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the kick-off event to Budweiser Speedweeks 2013, showcases the world’s best drivers competing against each other lap after lap for 24 hours on Daytona International Speedway’s challenging and demanding 3.56-mile road course.
Two-day tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona start at $35 and are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can follow sports cars on Twitter at GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (@RolexSeries) and the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge (@SUNOCO_UK). Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for all the latest news all season long.