The 24 Hours of Daytona endurance auto race begins on February 2, 1991; when it ends the following day, driver Hurley Haywood will collect his fifth win, the most victories of any driver in the event’s history.
The 24 Hours of Daytona (now known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona), along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring, are considered the Triple Crown of endurance racing, a sport that tests the stamina of both car and driver. The Le Mans, France, race was first run in 1923, while the inaugural Sebring race was held in 1952, at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida. The 24 Hours of Daytona began in 1962 as a three-hour competition at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway. Four years later, the event changed to the marathon 24-hour format. At Daytona, drivers compete on a 3.56-mile course and the winning car typically drives some 4,000 kilometers, or about 2,485 miles. Because it would be too dangerous for a single person to race for the entire 24 hours, teams of at least three drivers are required under today’s rules.
Haywood, who was born in 1948, won his first 24 Hours of Daytona, along with fellow driver Peter Gregg, in 1973, behind the wheel of a Porsche Carrera RSR. In 1974, the race was cancelled due to that year’s global energy crisis. Haywood and Gregg collected their second Daytona win in 1975, once again driving a Porsche Carrera RSR. In 1977, Haywood scored his third win, alongside teammates John Graves and Dave Helmick, in a Porsche Carrera RSR. Two years later, Haywood visited the winner’s circle for the fourth time after he and teammates Ted Field and Danny Ogais competed in a Porsche 935. Haywood’s fifth victory, in 1991, was shared with teammates John Winter, Frank Jelinski, Henri Pescarolo and Bob Wollek, who drove a Porsche 962-C.
In 1977, Haywood became the first driver to win the 24 Hours of Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year. In addition to his five victories at Daytona, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times (1977, 1983, 1994) and the 12 Hours of Sebring twice (1973, 1981). In 2008, Haywood retired from full-time racing with more endurance wins (10) than any other driver.