Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg. Still image from Kickstarter video preview.
Peter Gregg was one of the most successful road racers of the 1970s, and with racing partner Hurley Haywood, put the Brumos Porsche team in the international spotlight. A 1980 road accident left Gregg with double vision, ending his racing career and ultimately, his life. A new Kickstarter project from Derek Dodge seeks to raise money to produce Hurley Haywood & Peter Gregg: The Untold Story, which promises a peek behind the curtain at the personal lives of racing’s “Dynamic Duo.”
Gregg began his racing career in 1958, while still an undergraduate at Harvard University. Following graduation, Gregg attended a racing school in Europe before enlisting in the U.S. Navy, where he served as an Air Intelligence officer and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, Gregg had ample opportunity to race in his off-duty hours, and in 1964 began racing various Porsche models in SCCA competition.
Following his discharge in 1965, Gregg opted to remain in Jacksonville, buying local dealership Brumos Porsche. By 1967, he was running Porsche 911s in Trans Am competition, and in 1969 earned six victories and the manufacturer’s title (in the under 2.0-liter class) for Porsche. Later, he’d even race a Ford Mustang in Trans Am competition for the Bud Moore team, driving alongside teammate George Follmer.
In 1969, Gregg met and began mentoring Hurley Haywood, a self-described “college kid” with an uncanny ability to go fast in a race car. The two teamed for the first time at the 1969 Watkins Glen 6 Hours, finishing first in the GT 2.0 class and eighth overall. In 1971, Gregg and Haywood began co-driving regularly, competing together in endurance races with great success. In 1973, the pair produced back-to-back wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, despite Gregg’s (very) brief retirement following the Daytona race.
Their talent and work ethic produced IMSA championships in 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979, and Gregg himself captured the driver’s championship in Trans Am in 1973 and 1974. In 1980, while en route to a practice session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Gregg was involved in a road accident that left him with a concussion. Doctors refused to clear him for the race, and Derek Bell stepped in to drive in his place.
A few weeks later, Gregg was back in the driver’s seat, piloting a Porsche 935 with Haywood at the 250 mile Daytona Paul Revere. Reports of the day document that Haywood was ill and sat out most of the race, leaving Gregg to do the lion’s share of the driving; despite lingering vision problems from his accident in France, he managed a third-place finish. As a driver, it would be his last time on the podium.
Though Gregg entered three more races during the 1980 season, he competed in only one, the 250 mile Daytona Finale on November 30. Gregg proved unable to qualify, and IMSA reportedly revoked his racing license on medical grounds. Just over two weeks later, on a quiet stretch of sand off Florida’s A1A, near Ponte Vedra Beach, Gregg ended his life with a shot from a recently purchased .38 revolver. His suicide note, widely published in press reports of the day, read,
I don’t want to live with my livelong (unintelligible) of driving everything away, with making myself and other miserable. I just don’t enjoy life anymore. I must have a right to end it.
Gregg’s decision to take his life has long been shrouded in mystery, and it appears as if Derek Dodge’s film may shed some light on Gregg’s struggle, as recalled by Hurley Haywood. The film has been in the works for over a year and a half, and much of the footage has already been captured, but the Kickstarter project hopes to raise the funding necessary for editing and production.
Investing just $1 will get supporters regular production updates, while on the other end of the spectrum, spending $10,000 will earn investors an interview in the film, along with the rewards for more modest investment. At $59 (symbolic, as Brumos typically raced a #59 car), backers will get the deluxe edition, which includes a digital download of the film, downloadable bonus videos, production updates and streaming previews. There are, of course, other investment levels, meaning that anyone with a passion for Trans Am or IMSA Camel GT racing can find a budget-friendly way to support the film.
The Kickstarter project runs through Thursday, February 25, and at this writing is just over 10-percent funded. If you’d like to help, visit Kickstarter.com/Projects/DerekDodge/Hurley-Haywood-And-Peter-Gregg-The-Untold-Story for more information.