Five-time Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car champion, Hurley Haywood, has come out as gay.
The 69-year-old racing legend has spoken about his sexuality publicly for the first time in in his forthcoming autobiography Hurley! From The Beginning.
Haywood explains that a few years back he was interviewed by a high school reporter when the conversation took an unlikely turn.
The racing star recalls the reporter talking to him about his illustrious career, before the teen then revealed to him that he had been bullied his whole life because he is gay.
The youngster also confided in Haywood that he’d been having suicidal thoughts.
“I said, ’Listen, it’s not what you are, it’s who you are. That’s what people remember,'” Haywood told Autoweek of the encounter.
Around 18 months later, Haywood heard from the young gay teen’s mother, who thanked him for his supportive comments and said that it had saved her son’s life.
“Hearing from that mother—well, it was very emotional,” he said. “And I thought, if my voice is strong enough to help one kid, it might help two kids, or five or a hundred.”
While Haywood is coming out publicly at the age of 69, he revealed that the racing community have known for quite some time.
“The racing community has been extremely supportive,” he said. “I’ve never not gotten a ride because I was gay.”
Hurley! From The Beginning will be released on 10 March.
A documentary about Haywood’s life will follow later in the year, which has been produced by actor and former racer Patrick Dempsey and directed by Derek Dodge.