I recently watched the documentary “Hurley” about the life of sports car racing champion Hurley Haywood. While it’s a movie about a racing driver, it’s not just about motor sports. It’s more a movie about Haywood’s life, specifically his life as a gay man in motor sports at a time (70s, 80s, and 90s) when that wasn’t accepted. There’s also a subplot involving Peter Gregg, Haywood’s boss/co-driver/mentor and his suicide. It’s an emotional combination of period footage and current interviews with Haywood, his partner, sister, other drivers, and relevant personalities. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, learned a lot about a man who is one of my racing heroes, and found it to be something I think those who aren’t motor sports fans would enjoy as well. It is a fascinating look at a shy personality who’s never been one to talk a lot about himself on the camera.
As I mentioned above, Hurley Haywood is one of my racing heroes. A champion with multiple wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he was one who didn’t talk much, much less blow his own horn. The antithesis of many modern day drivers, he let his talent and skill do his talking on the track. I never knew he was gay until last year when his biography came out. I didn’t care, it’s not something that has ever made a difference to me. That said, it actually does change my opinion of him – I respect him even more know that he had to keep a huge part of his life hidden and wasn’t able to enjoy his success at the track with his partner. I respect him more because he’s now sharing his story not out of a desire to boost his image or popularity, but in an attempt to help those are troubled by their experiences and/or are considering suicide.
Whether you a motor sports fan or not, “Hurley” is well worth renting or purchasing. Motor sports is central to the film, but it isn’t what the film is about. It’s about a man and his life experiences – living as a gay man in an environment hostile to it and dealing with the suicide of a close friend – whose occupation happened to be a racing driver.