The most-successful American endurance driver in history made his mark in the German GT and prototype cars
Hurley Haywood, the winningest American endurance racer of all time, turned 70 on Friday, which was honored by Porsche as it approaches the 70th anniversary of its first sports car next month.
“As we prepare to celebrate 70 years of Porsche sports cars on June 8, I do not believe the similar anniversaries are by coincidence,” Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America said in a news release.
“In recognition of his remarkable achievements and daily contributions he continues to make to our brand, it is important that all of us at Porsche congratulate Hurley and wish him a very happy 70th birthday.”
Over four decades of competition, Haywood scored overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, most often at the wheel of Porsche GT and prototype race cars.
His racing career stretched from 1969 to 2012 with a break to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam. Haywood’s first overall endurance-race victory came in 1973 at Daytona with co-driver Peter Gregg, then-owner of Brumos Porsche.
Haywood and Gregg repeated the feat one month later by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring. Haywood later would become co-owner of Brumos Porsche in Jacksonville, Florida,
Haywood won five times at Daytona, three times at Le Mans and twice at Sebring, while becoming the first driver to win the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year — 1977. He earned five driver championships in his career: IMSA GT Champion (1971, 1972), SCCA Trans-Am Champion (1988), SuperCar Championship (1991), and North American GT Endurance Champion (1994).
Sidelined by a serious crash in 1983 that put his left leg in a cast for two years, Haywood came back to compete in Group 44 racing, starting out with Bob Tullius’ team with prototype Jaguars that utilized a semi-clutchless Hewland transmission, then with an Audi Quattro, leading to his 1988 Trans Am championship.
Haywood resumed racing with Porsches in 1986, taking the 1991 IMSA Supercar Championship in a 911 Turbo.
The champion driver, who has been honored in a number of halls of fame and as honored guest in many events, has been instrumental in the Porsche Young Driver Academy by teaching and mentoring young drivers early in their careers. He is the namesake of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship for up-and-coming GT drivers.