The life of a senior citizen is different now from what it used to be. Some people start new sports later in life, others just keep doing the things they are passionate about. James Hylton is one of those guys. All this guy knows is racing and he plans to keep going. At 72 years old, he isn’t showing any signs of stopping.
From his beginning as a driver in Virginia in 1964, Hylton has been racing ever since. His career includes being the 1966 rookie of the year and even a win at Talladega in 1972.
Maybe the coolest thing is that Hylton drives his own tow rig, load and unloads the car himself. This guy is old school in a really good way. For those of you who think that 72 is old, remember that on his 80th birthday, Paul Newman drove a full hour long stint at the Daytona 24 hour race. A few weeks later, he wheeled a Trans Am car to a 5th place finish in the rain. This is not an old guy just driving fast, this is a competitor.
After battling a bunch of the niggly little things that always seem to haunt the independant, Hylton only managed to get in 5 laps in last week’s test session. His top speed of just over 181 mph was the slowest of the day, by 4 mph, but that’s really not the point. Hylton’s goal is to become the oldest driver to ever start the 500. He wants to show people that: “I am doing this for seniors to show that at 70 years old, you don’t have to go hunting for an old-folks home. You can go race for a little bit,” Hylton said. “A lot of the old drivers want to come out here and hang out in the pits and see if I can do it.” Visit a regional race on any given weekend and you’ll find that a large percentage of the drivers are over 50. You’d be suprised at how many are over 60.
Racing really is one of those lifetime sports. Just like skiing, many folks learn to drive early in grade school and keep racing till they are well into their sixties, if not their seventies. The sport is a great place to grow up and to grow old, all the while being surrounded by your friends and family.
Good luck James Hylton, I’m sure that your peers are rooting for you. I can tell you that The Garage will definately be watching for you!
Be sure to visit James Hylton’s site