Racing legend Hurley Haywood revealed why he waited until he was 69 years old to come out as gay.
The now 70-year-old retired race car driver won multiple championships throughout his long career. But he only publicly addressed his sexuality for the first time in his 2018 autobiography, Hurley: From The Beginning.
‘I was afraid,’ he told Out. ‘Not necessarily to have that discussion with the industry that I was making my living at, but the fan base.’
He then added: ‘I didn’t want to let my fans down, and that fan base was growing considerably and I was just really afraid what their reaction would be if I publicly came out.’
Haywood revealed his hesitation was less about how his fellow race car drivers would react and more about the fans.
‘Racing was the last bastion where people could come out and be comfortable about it. And I think that is [because of] a reeducation of the fan base.
‘I don’t think the industry itself cares, just as long as you keep your foot down on the throttle longer than the guy next door, then everybody’s happy. But it’s the fan base that has to change. And I think that that is gradually changing in the racing world,’ he said.
Hurley Haywood documentary
Haywood also candidly talks about hiding his sexuality in new documentary of his life, Hurley.
The retired racing legend revealed in the trailer to the film: ‘This is the first time I’ve talked about this to anybody publicly.’
He said he wanted to share his story through the documentary after a young man came to him about taking his own life for being gay.
‘We had a good conversation, talked about some places where he could go to get some support, and he left with a pretty positive attitude,’ he said. ‘About a year and a half later, his mother called and said, “I just want you to know that what you told my son saved his life.”
‘So I said that if I can save one person’s life, maybe I can save two or 10 or 100. That was the reason why I decided now’s the time to do it,’ he said.
Director Derek Dodge worked with executive producer, former racing driver and Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey.
‘To me, Hurley Haywood is a legend,’ Dempsey said in the trailer. ‘He’s a quintessential race car driver, without question.’
On Haywood hiding his sexuality, Dempsey then added: ‘He did what he had to do in order to survive at the time.’
The movie came out 26 March and is available to download.