There is no more appropriate time for our review of Hurley – From the Beginning to publish than the birthday week of the man himself. Hurley, now seventy years old, held a fifty-year racing career, and shows no signs of slowing down, even today. He’s still a super quick driver, he’s involved in motorsport to a level higher than anyone would ever expect of him, and he’s an ambassador for Porsche, the brand he spent most of his racing years driving. He’s lived an incredibly interesting life, though he’s traditionally kept mostly to himself and a lot of people don’t know his life’s story. Writer Sean Cridland met Haywood in 2011, and was instantly inspired to tell the man’s story. After years of working to get the complete tale out of Hurley, the resulting effort is this incredible book, Hurley – From the Beginning.
I met up with Haywood and Cridland during Luft 5, and the duo had planned the Porsche-centric event as a stop on their lengthy book tour. I’d have certainly ordered a copy myself, after leafing through this giant tome and seeing all of the incredible pictures. It’s not inexpensive, with a price tag of $95.59 (get it?), but just that brief glance told me it was worth the price of admission. In a surprise move, the giant-esque Cridland offered me a copy to take home with a wide smile and a shake of the hand. I am not a small man myself, but the author towers over me as though I were a small child. The juxtaposition of the diminutive ex-racer, and the Brobdingnaggian man who committed his life’s story to book is as hilarious as it is heartwarming. At 6’1″, I stand about the middle ground between the two.
With well over 400 pages of incredible anecdotes, this book is packed with things you’d never know about Hurley otherwise. There are over 650 photographs onboard, from all stages of Haywood’s life, as well as written commentary from Patrick Long, Manfred Jantke, Brumos owner Dan Davis, and Kerry Morse. Consider the number of Porsche folks who have been involved throughout Hurley’s incredible and expansive career, and you’ve got a full community effort leading up to the production of this book. It’s a story that deserves to be told, and the way its been done is engaging and easy to read.
Every bit of the talented driver’s career is analyzed from his own perspective. This is Hurley telling his own story, with the added research, photographic evidence, and anecdotals added in to give it all a bit more gravitas. The narrative is quite engaging from beginning to end. Hurley was just a kid from Illinois with a Corvette when he was discovered, mentored, and hired by Brumos Racing. Peter Gregg would test his race cars in local autocrosses, and when Hurley beat his immaculately prepared 911 with that Corvette, he was offered a racing job. When the team showed up to race at Watkins Glen with a twenty-year-old Hurley at the wheel, he didn’t even have so much as a regional racing license. Gregg’s say-so was apparently all he needed to get approval to enter.
I’d never really thought out the fact that Hurley was shipped off to Vietnam shortly after getting his start in racing. It’s an interesting part of the man’s life, and it often goes without so much as a mention. You can read all about that tour where he was stationed just south of Hanoi, and I suggest you do.
Being that I wasn’t born at the time, let alone old enough to watch and understand motorsport, I was completely unaware of Hurley’s major leg injury and the ramifications until I read this book. Following a bad wreck in a 935 at Mosport in the summer of 1983. After a six month hiatus, he returned to motorsport for the start of the 1984 season. Because he was forced to wear a leg cast or brace of some sort while his leg healed, he was not allowed to race anything with a clutch, which included Porsche’s entire lineup at the time. He jumped at the chance to drive Bob Tullius’ Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 which featured a new Hewland clutchless gearbox, because it was the fastest car he could race with his injury.
Further than the major parts of Hurley’s life that you may not have known, Hurley – From the Beginning is also filled with incredible anecdotes from the ancillary bits of his racing career. The story about the 1990 Jacksonville demolition derby is among my favorites. I won’t spoil the whole story for you, but it involves Bob Snodgrass and the masterful theft of a priceless original piece of Frank Stella artwork!
Hurley’s history with Porsche has been discussed for years, but this is the final word on the history of that relationship. If you’ve ever thought of Hurley as an icon of motorsport, this book will only work to exacerbate that feeling. In the process, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the man, and probably more. You can get your copy by visiting HurleyBook.com, or find one of the upcoming locations where Hurley and Sean will be selling/signing books this year. Either way, you’ll definitely want to add this book to your Porsche collection shelves. It’s found a happy home in mine.
- Title: Hurley – From the Beginning
- Publisher: Visions of Power Press
- Author: Sean Cridland
- Page: 450
- Size: 11″ x 11″
- Price: $95.59 as reviewed. 2 other purchase options avaialble