Bell, Haywood - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Hurley and Derek, I watched you race for years. You're both stars in the Sports Car Series as far as I'm concerned, as are many others. You're older drivers but you're fit, and what is the difference between the way...

Continued from part 1

Q: Hurley and Derek, I watched you race for years. You're both stars in the Sports Car Series as far as I'm concerned, as are many others. You're older drivers but you're fit, and what is the difference between the way you will approach these races and the younger drivers coming in? How much value does your experience give over a newer driver, a younger driver?

HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, when you're a new driver or a young driver, you've got a whole career ahead of you to gain experience, and I think the more experienced drivers and the older drivers are much more secure in sort of their position in life and their position in the racing community, and they have nothing to prove. When you're out there on a racetrack and you're trying to prove how fast you are to your team owner or other team owners, you run the big risk of crashing or making a big mistake.

I think the older guys bring a bit of maturity to a racing team, and that's why a lot of the teams employ older drivers, to give the younger guys sort of their opportunity to gain from their experience, and it's kind of a calming effect. Usually when you go to a race weekend it's a pretty hectic schedule, and things never go right, and the car always has some sort of problem, and miraculously they get the car fixed by the time the race starts and then you go into your race.

I think the guys that have the most amount of experience have sort of a calming effect on the junior members. I know Porsche was always very, very insistent upon having seasoned drivers mixed in with their young tigers, and the young guys are always a little bit quicker, but the older guys sort of give that sort of even keel to the whole situation.

DEREK BELL: Yeah, I remember obviously Hurley spoke a lot there of exactly what I was going to say, but by the same token, I remember I was talking with Hans Stuck the other day, literally in the last month because he has a place here in Florida, and he was saying when they joined Porsche they put him with me because they thought I'd be a calming influence on him. It didn't work, but that was what I was there for.

I think as Hurley said, my feeling is that I'd be in a race, and I've had this from experience, you'll be watching somebody catching you up behind and he's all over the road, you'll see puffs of dust going everywhere and the car looking pretty unstable, and this happened to me at St. Petersburg a couple years ago. I remember seeing this kid come, and I knew who it was because I'd seen him in qualifying and he was very quick, but he was like 19, and the team called me and said, so and so is behind you, and I said, I can see him all right, but I'm going to let him by because he won't stay on the road for more than a couple more laps, and sure enough, I let him by and he crashed two laps later. And that is the experience we have as an older person.

That might sound awfully boring, but we also know our limits, and I think these are the limits that have allowed Hurley and I to get to this ripe old age, whereas a lot of people have never found the limits. You have to know what the limits are. Some people find the limits very easily, some people never, ever find them. I personally could get to a limit and be right on the edge of that limit, which is actually the edge of falling over the edge, but there will be a fine limit. Some people, they stay below the limit or they're well over it. They can't balance it in the middle.

HURLEY HAYWOOD: I agree totally with Derek. I heard somebody once describe that really well. He said, some people draw that line with a fine pencil and others draw it with a Crayon.

DEREK BELL: All due respect, I'm sure Hurley and I could tell stories all day, which we do on our Legends Days, but I remember I had so many times I would go and do test drives with different teams in my long, long career, and you would appear there and obviously there would be other drivers with you. I remember implicitly when I had my Ferrari test drive. I went out there and drove to this limit in the rain, in a Formula One car which I never sat in, in the rain in a situation where I daren't go over that edge. But if I went below it, Mr. Ferrari was sitting there in his two plus two on the edge of the track watching me go around. When a couple of other drivers went around, one went slow and the other fell off and they select me.

Now, I'm not saying, aren't I wonderful, but the fact was I had a much finer line, as Hurley mentioned, and the others didn't.

Q: In this Grand Am Rolex race at the Glen, what will be the most challenging part of the race, the length, the course?

HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, just remember one thing, if you watch the 24 hours at Daytona, that was a sprint race from the minute the green flag fell. So just think of a six hour race as a monumental sprint race. It's going to be every team, every driver, every car is going to have to go as fast as they possibly can and hope nothing goes wrong.

Again, it's experience that allows that to happen, and the guys are the drivers and the teams are getting more and more experience and better and better at doing their jobs, so it makes my life very difficult, I'll tell you (laughing).

DEREK BELL: Well, I'm not in the race, so I haven't got to worry. I'll just watch Hurley.

Q: For Hurley, whether or not you're starting the race or in the middle or at the final, do you have a favorite part that you would rather time of the race you like to be in the car? And what are the more challenging parts of the Glen for you?

HURLEY HAYWOOD: Well, I love every single bit of the Glen. The uphill is great. It's really a rush going up that thing. In our cars it's taken flat out, so you come out of one and accelerate and you're flat on it all the way up the hill. So that's a pretty big rush. So the boot is really a lot of fun. The whole track has got such a great rhythm and it's such a classic racetrack that I really enjoy driving there.

I think given my druthers, I think I like starting the race. The start of the race is when all of the bad things could possibly go wrong, and I just like the standpoint that I've started so many races that I just have a lot of experience. But for the Glen, I think that J. C. is going to start. We're trying to get him up to get a lot of points in the Truman's Cup Award, so I think he'll start, and then Barbosa will go second because if anything happens to the cars, those guys need the points, and then I'll probably go in third.

It's all relative to pit stops and yellow flags and all that kind of stuff.

DEREK BELL: I must just say one thing that nobody has brought up yet, but Hurley is talking about three drivers. Hurley remembers very vividly that back in the '70s and '80s we used to drive 12 or 24 hour races with just two drivers. Nowadays I know you're going to say the cars are quicker around the corners and there are more G forces, but it's amazing we used to do those races. The sheer concentration, whether it's more G force or not is immense, still is immense. But two guys used to do it not so long ago.

HURLEY HAYWOOD: Derek is absolutely right. Derek and myself do a lot of vintage racing with some of these older cars that we've driven in their prime, and when I get it, we have a 962 in our collection, and when I drive that at tracks like Daytona or Atlanta or wherever we're going to go, I'm just amazed at how difficult those cars physically work to drive. We're all spoiled right now. We've got power steering and sequential shifting, and the gear box in the 962 is like pushing a paddle through cement. It was really a monumental effort.

As Derek said, we used to do 24 hour races at Le Mans with three people, but many times we would do Six Hours with just two guys. And that was a real physical

DEREK BELL: I did my first 13 Le Manses with two drivers, and I did 26 in total.

HURLEY HAYWOOD: You're in better condition you're stronger than I am.

DEREK BELL: No, I'm not. You would have done it, too. That's the point that people overlook. I did an interview yesterday about the Porsche 917 because it's the 40th anniversary of the fabled Porsche 917 this year, and I drove that car during that era, and in the '70s and '71s. If we didn't take the drive in the car there are numerous drivers that would. You then turn around to Porsche and say, I'm sorry, sir, I'm not driving your car because it's too difficult or I'm not strong enough. You just bloody would get in and do it. And we all had the ability because we had such desire to win, and we had that passion about driving that we'd get in and do it even if afterwards we went, I don't want to do it again, but we would.

HURLEY HAYWOOD: I remember in 1977, it was the first year of the turbo charged cars, the 935s at Daytona, and I didn't have faith in that kind of technology for a long distance race, so I ended up driving an RSR. My two teammates that were very on it were very kind of inexperienced guys. At about 10:00 o'clock at night, they came up and they said, we don't want to drive at night. I kind of looked at them and said, well, it's just the three of us, what are we going to do? You're going to drive. I basically did an eight hour shift at night non stop. And the reason that I was able to do that, I was pretty exhausted after the stint, was we were really moving up in the standings, and turbo charged cars would have problems and we'd get up to fifth or fourth and then third and second, so that was enough adrenaline to keep me going. But you just did what you had to do.

Q: A lot has been made about the heat in the Daytona prototypes. How does that compare with the heat in some of the older cars you guys have driven?

HURLEY HAYWOOD: I mean, I am not good with heat. If I don't have air blowing on me the way these cars are Daytona prototypes, they made them a lot better, but they are just like little ovens. We have air conditioned helmets now, we have cool suits that we wear when it's really hot outside. So it makes life a lot easier.

But the same heat was created back in the 962 days with the Daytona prototype. You had those big huge radiators in the front and they would just dump all this hot air. I remember one time I burnt my feet on the pedals because they got so hot down there.

And then back you didn't have things like air conditioned helmets and cool suits. So you just had to live with it. Again, you dealt with it and you tried to take as good a care of yourself between the stints, put as much liquid back into your system. But unfortunately that sometimes is just not good enough.

Nowadays I've got a doctor that goes to the races with our team, and when it's really hot the guys get out of the car and they get an IV with liquid in it to get back into their systems because 20 minutes on the IV and you're ready to go back in the car again. Modern technology is wonderful.

DEREK BELL: You're really lucky. What you have to remember of course is Hurley and I aren't 25 anymore, and I think the heat affects us more. I don't remember it being nearly as bad in those early days of the '70s, but it certainly seems to have got a lot worse. But I do remember testing at Brands Hatch in a Porsche 962 in about '83 or '84, '84 or '85, and we had these special temperature gauges across the top of the tires in the wheel arches that could detect the temperature. At the end of the day we'd be driving literally in 75 degree heat but Brands is very humid in that area. I'd say the hell with the temperature gauge, stick it on the passenger seat, let's see how hot it is, and it was 150 degrees. We very rarely take temperatures ourselves in the cockpit because nobody has time to do that, but that shows the sort of thing we have to put up with.

Another time at Daytona in the 24 hour, Al Unser Jr., somehow the window or the side screen of the door got broken. A rock must have come up and broken it, and I was driving the car well, we all were driving it, and I thought, what a relief, we're going to have cool air coming in from the outside because it's never that hot at Daytona in the first weekend at February. But of course lo and behold all the window being removed does is it actually sucks the heat from the radiators and from the engine compartment which is either end of us and sucks it into that window and all our lips were blistered at the end of the race from the heat passing over our lips.

HERB BRANHAM: Guys, what can you say about this? This was just a wonderful way to help us get some advance publicity for Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hour event at Watkins Glen. Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood, thank you very much. Hurley, best of luck. Keep J.C. in line and get him going and I'm sure it'll be a great day.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Hurley Haywood , Derek Bell