Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Haywood Ready to Take It Slow; Five-Time Winner of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Starts His Final Full-Time Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Haywood Ready to Take It Slow; Five-Time Winner of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Starts His Final Full-Time Season

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

DAYTONA BEACH -- Hurley Haywood is ready to slow down.

The most accomplished sports car driver in the world said Friday that the 2007 Grand Am Sport Car Series season will be his last as a full-time driver for Jacksonville-based Brumos Porsche.

"This is it; that's the truth," Haywood said in preparation for today's start of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. "I've got to slow down."

Haywood, 58, is the only five-time overall winner of the 24-hour race at the Daytona International Speedway. He's also won twice at the 24 Hours of LeMans. But the rigors of sports car racing will force him to make three selected starts next year. He plans to return for the 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as endurance races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and at Salt Lake City.

"The regimen you have to do to stay in shape as a driver is hard," Haywood said. "The racing I love. The routine you have to go through to keep yourself in top condition is what I don't like. There are too many other things I'm devoted to."

Haywood said he still will travel with the familiar No. 59 Porsche-powered Riley sports car. But most of the time he will work in a management role.

As Haywood starts his final full-time year in sports car racing, he will shift more of the responsibilities to co-driver, J.C. France. Haywood currently decides what changes to make the to car, but he wants France, the grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, to be up to speed when he becomes the lead driver next season.

"My first [24-hour] race was in 1973 when I came here as a kid," France said. "I was a fan of the No. 59 and of Hurley Haywood since. The thing about Hurley is he sits down and takes all the time necessary to explain everything you need to know. Look at his record. It speaks for itself. Being his teammate has been incredible.

"This year is going to be different. Not only is it Hurley's last year, but the car is so competitive. We've really got it dialed in, and Hurley's a big part of that."

Haywood and France will get driving help from Joao Barbosa and Roberto Moreno during this weekend's race. Haywood qualified 16th on Thursday.

"We waited on pit road to get a clean lap at the end [of qualifying session] and they had that big accident in Turn 1," he said. …

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