Racing's a Drag

A middle-aged race car driver gambles it all for one last chance at victory

Not ready to walk away from full-time racing, Hoyos started his own company, called Driven2Win. He took out two additional mortgages on his modest duplex in Hollywood. His wife, Marla, sold some property she owned. And with everything on the line, they contracted to have two brand-new Chevy Cobalts built to his specifications. With the new cars, spare parts, and a rig to haul everything, Hoyos expects to shell out somewhere near $600,000 this year. He's hoping to find a sponsor to pay that bill, but so far, one has been slow to bite. "It has to happen quick," he admitted last Friday while the racers ran test runs at Moroso, "because, honestly, we're out of money."

As the drivers prepared for their final race Sunday afternoon, Hoyos walked hand-in-hand with his wife through the pits. He wore a silver button-down, embroidered with the logo of his new company and tucked into dark blue jeans above a pair of white tennis shoes. His thin hair was slicked back smooth, and he wore wrap-around sunglasses on his broad face. Hoyos said he felt not jealousy or envy but regret. The three pro racers in his sport were having a bad weekend, and Hoyos felt he could do better. The new driver of Chevy's Cobalt had stalled at the starting line during a final round, and the two others weren't having their best days. "It's killing me, because I know if I was in this, I'd be winning," he said in boastful race-car-driver style. In the end, Ed Bergenholtz of California won the event, his first victory in four years of racing. His winning time of 8.56 seconds was more than a half-second off Hoyos' record on that track.

As he wandered through the pits, Hoyos tried to remain upbeat about his chances for returning. His car will be ready in about a month, he said, and he hopes to have enough time to win enough races to compete for a championship this year. And, he said, he'll find a sponsor -- or go broke.

Hoyos seeks dragster immortality.
Colby Katz
Hoyos seeks dragster immortality.

"I've got to be out here," he said. "Even though I'm not in the race, I can't let these people forget about me."

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