A t Sunday morning it was clear for Hurley Haywood that there would be no happy ending for the 24 hours this time. The almost 62-year-old had just handed over the wheel of his Brumos Porsche with the number 59 to his passenger. In the box he takes on a sweaty helmet and balaclava. First of all, a deep sip from the water bottle. You hand him a wet cloth and the camera of the American racing channel 'Speed' holds it very close. The team members applaud, but there is no tear in Haywood. After this time it's over for good. Racing legend Hurley Haywood ends his motorsport career with the 24 Hours of Daytona and hangs up his helmet. 'I drove here for the 37th time this time,' says the newly qualified pilot a. D. with a smile, 'I think it's the right time to break up.' Started 37 times, won five times - more often than anyone else here.
No happy ending for Haywood at the last 24h race in Daytona
Haywood is a racing legend not only in the USA. He has beaten his rivals five times on the Daytona high-speed oval, three times at Le Mans and twice at Sebring. The victories in other classes like IMSA or GT are countless. 'In total, I probably drove more than 600 car races,' he laughs, 'or a few more.' His fans in Daytona know this and have long since stopped staring at the race, but at the screens showing Haywood in the pit of the Brumos Porsche team. 'During the night it looked good for a long time. We were in the lead for a long time,' says Hurley with his usual professionalism, 'but then there were technical problems and we fell behind.'
In the morning hours it still looked good as if there was at least a podium for the dropout in the final race. But after a collision, the Brumos Porsche with the number 59 has to go back to the pits for a longer repair. The aerodynamics of the prototype were no longer correct and the entire front of the white-blue-red car with the racing engine of a 911 GT3 RS had to be replaced.
The Daytona route is extremely demanding
Hardly any other audience on the American continent is as loyal as the one in North Florida. The 24 Hours of Daytona have a reputation like Donnerhall and, along with the Indy 500 and the 12-hour race in Sebring, are every motorsport highlightYear. 'When I compare Le Mans and Daytona, I have to say that it's harder to win here at Daytona,' says Haywood, 'the range of drivers is wider here. Some are absolute top professionals from the world's best racing series like Nascar, Formula 1 and Indy. Others are semi-professional drivers and gentleman drivers who have bought their way into the cockpits of the prototype and GT classes. Add to that this special track. '
The race course in Daytona belongs next to the Nürburgring and the Le Mans circuit to the most famous and spectacular race tracks in the world. The Daytona 24 Hours has a 3.6 mile mix of the high-speed oval and the curvy indoor course. 'They are actually two completely different racetracks,' emphasizes Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister, who came in second this time, 'you can almost only overtake on the oval. Hardly anything can be done in the infield.' In Daytona, equipment and drivers are stressed like hardly any other race. It goes at full throttle for 24 hours over the steep curves that are inclined up to 33 degrees. 'Unlike at Le Mans, there are twelve hours of darkness at Daytona,' says Hurley Haywood, 'at Le Mans there are just five. You never know what to expect when you next pass. You always have to have your eyes everywhere. '
Haywood's favorite car is the 1973 Porsche 911 RS
When asked about his favorite car, the narrow racing driver shoots a friendly smile 'The Porsche 911 RS from 1973 - simply phenomenal and the Porsche 935/936 from the end of the 70s.' After the checkered flag, however, Haywood is only retiring when it comes to racing drivers. Professionally, he has more to do than ever. 'It's good that I now have a little more time and can look after my dealership,' he says, showing no trace of sadness. 'There's enough to do here.' Of course, your own car collection also has to be looked after. There are not only legends such as the Porsche 917, 935 and 550 Spyder, but also Buick Century and rare Corvette models.
Racing legend Vic Elford takes on the role of Grand Marshall in Daytona
It wasn't that hot for Vic Elford at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The active racing driver years were almost 40 years ago for the former world-class driver Elford. But at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the now 75-year-old Vic Elford had his hands full again. 'I was asked a few months ago if I wanted to hold the position of Grand Marshall in Daytona,' says the sprightly senior, 'that is of course a great honor and I said yes.'
Vic Elford knows not just in the USA anyone who is interested in motorsport. The Briton is still considered the most versatile racing driver in the world. After winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1968, for example, he wona week later at the Daytona 24 Hours. It has never happened again to this day. But it wasn't just his racing successes that made Elford a legend. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Elford once saved the life of a competitor when he pulled him out of his burning Ferrari. For this, the then French President Georges Pompidou awarded the title 'Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite'.
The Nordschleife is Elford's favorite track
'Sure times were better in the past, 'says the gaunt Elford, whom everyone used to call' Quick Vic ',' today everyone is a specialist and nobody can really show what they can do in other classes. ' He still fondly remembers the legendary Targo Fiorio from Sicily today. 'There can only be a car race like this on public roads in Italy,' remembers Elford, 'I drove most of the passages like on a real racetrack. It was only better to drift on a few narrow town throughs. That way you got the lead . '
When asked about his favorite racing car, it comes off like a shot:' Of course the Porsche 917. It was incomparable; I drove all versions - fantastic. ' Today, ex-racing driver Vic Elford, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, is taking it easy - there is no trace of high-horsepower cars: 'Back then I drove everything that was fun. Today I drive a Honda Civic and a Ford Focus - twelve years old. I can always leave it at the airport and nothing happens. ' Say it and go to the pit lane. It's Daytona, after all. How times can change If you ask him about his favorite racetrack as he leaves, he looks back briefly: 'What a question - the Nordschleife, of course.'