Arts & Culture

Five Minutes With: Hurley Haywood, Hilton Head Island Councours D'Elegance honorary chairman

Hurley Haywood is used to 24-hour driving marathons. At the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance, he'll just have to settle for a few quick laps around the track.

Haywood, one of the most prolific endurance race drivers ever, is the honorary chairman of this year's Concours d'Elegance. He'll be part of the opening weekend festivities on Hutchinson Island near Savannah. Haywood will take guests for a ride around the track in a Porsche.

During his racing career, Haywood mostly competed on the endurance circuit, where teams of drivers race cars for hours upon hours, chalking up 10 titles in the major events of 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona.

Haywood, who recently announced his retirement, explains why it's so hard to stay out from behind the wheel.

Question. Have you been to Hilton Head often?

Answer. Yeah. I've been up here quite a bit. I live in Ponte Vedra, (Fla.) which is kind of like Hilton Head. I love Savannah. This will be my first time for the Hilton Head (Concours d'Elegance). I've been a judge at the Amelia Island (Fla.) Concours, so I'm excited to come up to Hilton Head.

Q. I saw that you retired from racing this year. Is that for good?

A. I retired, but our racing team switched directions and we're going to be back into (Porsche) GT racing, which is what made Brumos Racing famous. We'll kind of see how it goes. I missed racing more than I thought.

Q. What attracted you to endurance racing in the first place?

A. Endurance racing is one of those things where everything has to be perfect. All levels have to be addressed and done with precision. If one of those elements is wrong, you won't be successful in a 24-hour race. The driving I enjoy, but it's a matter of getting everything right and running a good race that really gives you a good feeling.

Q. What is it like when you're done with an endurance race?

A. I think there was a famous quote that went, "If you have one ounce of energy left after a 24-hour race, you haven't done your job properly." It's one of those things that's exhausting physically and mentally. You're up for 40 hours, really. You start at 7 a.m. the morning of the race. At 3:30 (p.m.) the race starts. It gets tiring. By the time the race is finished you're used up.

Q. So you're ready for a 24-hour nap after that.

A. You end up taking cat naps all the time. But you've got a whole slew of physical therapists and cooks there. We're pretty serious about our drivers' health during these races. You can spend thousands of dollars making your cars go a second quicker, but if you spend a bit of money keeping the drivers in good shape, that will pay dividends in the end.