With victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of LeMans, Hurley Haywood will easily go down in motorsports history as one of the best endurance racers, ever. Collaborating with director Derek Dodge and executive producer Patrick Dempsey, everything is now captured on film for the fans to see.
Through creating the feature documentary “Hurley,” Haywood spoke about his success in racing, though also touched upon other sensitive subjects in his life, ranging being gay to Peter Gregg’s suicide. The film was completed last year, with intentions of being released to the public in the near future. You can learn more about the film through it’s website at https://www.hurleyhaywood.com/.
Recently, POPULAR SPEED got the chance to speak with Haywood after viewing the film, to talk about the contents as well as his racing career.
POPULAR SPEED: What was the experience like for you in doing the film?
HURLEY HAYWOOD: It was a learning process. We divulged into some really sensitive programs – suicide, and the LGBT Community. Patrick Dempsey was a part of bringing this whole thing today, and the film director – Derek Dodge was also really great. It was not easy to talk about these subjects, and he was really sensitive in how he got me to talk about these problems.
I think the end result was very positive. All of the feedback that I get from people that have seen the film is that they each person takes something a little different from it, and applies to their own lives and family. I think that’s really a testimony to the strength and power of a film that’s well done.
PS: One of questions that came up was whether it’d be openly acceptable by everyone to see a gay racing driver. Do you ever see that happening with how the culture is continuing to change?
HURLEY: Well, you have to remember, I think the industry knew that I was gay back in the 70’s, so it has not interfered with my progress over 40 years of racing. But I think what I am hoping is it doesn’t matter if you’re a racing driver, or whatever sport that you’re in, that it’d be easier to make a statement and come out.
I think in the professional sports world, you’re seeing people from tennis to football, from basketball, baseball – all these people are coming out and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m gay. I’m at the top of the my sport and you’re just going to have to accept that’. I think that American in general is becoming more accepting of this lifestyle. Who would’ve dreamed that 10 years ago gay marriage would be acceptable and approved by the supreme court?
So, we’re moving forward and there are barriers that you still have to knock down, but I think part of the message in the film is if there’s a barrier in front of you, you want to knock it down or at least attempt to knock it down. If that barrier is not allowing you to move forward, than that’s a bad thing. To knock down the barrier, instead of using your fist and power, use a gentle touch and I think that people will find that barriers fall easier when you gently try to knock it down than brutal force to knock it down.
PS: For everyone that is going to tune into the film, what do you want them to take away from it?
HURLEY: I think communication is one of the keys, regardless of what subject you’re talking about. You have to have dialogue as nothing gets done without that. If you have that dialogue in a gentle manner, I think the end result will be much better, rather than having that dialogue only one-sided, and yelling at your opponent. I’m hoping that people can take away that you can very strong and powerful, but also very gentle at the same time in doing that. I think that everybody can take away that part of the film and apply that to their lives on a personal basis.
PS: It was neat in how they intertwined your experience at the Rolex 24 with Patrick Dempsey. What was it like returning to the event involved with the team carrying the Brumos colors?
HURLEY: Well, it was great. I was one of the co-owners of Brumos so being able to have Patrick Dempsey as part of our team, that was really great for us and for him. There was a certain standard of excellence that we expected everybody to meet, and Patrick certainly did that. He was a real asset to the team, and I was sort of a little jealous of Patrick.
When we would do the autograph sessions, I would have A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and myself sitting at one table, and there may be 10, 15 people waiting for an autograph. You’d look down the line to Patrick’s table, and there’d be 100 people waiting. So he’s a powerful guy, and has a very good public image, and everybody wants to meet and touch Patrick, and Patrick is so good with his fans. Regardless of who you are, he always has time to talk to you.
PS: You were able to have a lot of success in your career. Is there a single win that stands out above the rest?
HURLEY: I think the win that Peter and I had in 1973 at Daytona, and then we backed that up by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring. Those two races really set the tone for the rest of my career and put me in the light on the European side. So I was racing for Porsche, but that opened the eyes to who I was. They watched me for a few years, and then they asked me to become a member of the team in 1977.
I not only won Daytona in 1977, but also won at LeMans in the 24 Hours of LeMans. That was my first time at LeMans, first-time winner, and that was special. It’s really wonderful to be associated one manufacture your whole entire career, and that’s now turned into business opportunities for me. I’m still working for Porsche and still representing them as an ambassador.
PS: Is there anything that you didn’t get to do through your career that you wish you were able to?
HURLEY: Well, I would have liked to have won the Daytona 500, and I would have liked to have won the Indy 500. Those are such big races that it would’ve been wonderful to put those in my cap. But I won Daytona, Sebring, and LeMans numerous times, so I’m happy with it.
PS: From your experience, what would your advice to be a youngster getting into racing today?
HURLEY: Don’t let anybody say no. Just push through whatever obstacle is in front of you. Never give up. Everybody has a dream, and regardless of how crazy that dream may be, if you try hard enough to make it come true, chances are it will.
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