Most people prefer driving either a stick-shift or an automatic. PR Newswire’s Byron Hurd doesn’t much care. It just has to drive well.
Hurd, a senior customer content specialist at PR Newswire, is a bit of a car addict.
The obsession began innocently enough – Matchbox and Hot Wheels, and, by his teens, he toted the occasional car magazine on long road trips to visit family in Texas.
Today, he owns four cars: a 2008 Mazda Speed 3, 1997 Jeep Wrangler, and two Mazda Miatas (1990 and 1994 -- one is a parts car and doesn’t run). They all neatly fit into his driveway in Annapolis, Md.
Hurd also blogs for Speed:Sport:Life. And he occasionally spends weekends racing cars at the track.
“Driving for the first time on a racetrack is pretty intense,” said Hurd, 27. “But it’s the best rollercoaster ride you could ever take.”
When Hurd reviews vehicles for Speed:Sport:Life, he occasionally gets to drive them on local tracks to get a better feel for their performance. Here, he's driving a 2011 Lexus IS F at Summit Point Motorsports Park's Shenandoah Circuit.
Hurd got his blogging start with Speed:Sport:Life through a connection he made as a member of an online Volkswagen enthusiast group. The guy also happened to blog and was a racing driver.
They went out to the Virginia International Raceway. The rest is history – Hurd was invited to write for the blog.
That was a few years ago.
In addition to driving cars on closed race courses, Hurd also participates in auto-cross events. Auto-crosses are held in parking lots on courses delineated by parking cones, and drivers try to beat times set by others in vehicles of similar performance. It's not just for fun; auto-cross teaches drivers a lot about emergency vehicle control and allows them to explore the limits of their cars in a safe and fun, competitive environment.
Hurd’s favorite thing about writing for Speed:Sport:Life is the ability to experience many different cars.
“They give me a car for a week, and sometimes I get to commute in them and take them on racetracks. You can’t get that from a test drive,” Hurd said. “We’re just a few friends who like to write about cars. Something will occur to me about a car I drove recently, and I’ll sit down and write.”
Hurd has been on a racetrack dozens of times. It’s usually an all-weekend situation, and he meets up with others from racing organizations and clubs. The groups usually are broken down according to beginners and advanced driving groups. (Beginners, for example, must drive with instructors and are only permitted to pass drivers in certain areas.)
When he's not driving cars provided by manufacturers, Hurd tracks his personal vehicles. Here, he drives his 2008 Mazdaspeed3 at Mid-Ohio Raceway, one of the nation's premiere sports car and open-wheel racing venues.
Hurd’s longtime girlfriend Nicole – who also comes from a car family – is very understanding about his passion.
“Her one rule is that we can’t have more than one car that doesn’t run so we don’t get overwhelmed,” Hurd said. “I don’t think I could get by with owning one car. The monotony would drive me crazy.”
Hurd’s next track weekend is this month in Summit Point, W. Va. There, he plans to drive a new Porsche 911. He also anticipates more track weekends in his future because the season for car racing is heating up in the Mid-Atlantic. (Most car clubs will get together between now and October.)
When Hurd isn’t living and breathing his vehicular hobby, he splits his workday within the Washington, D.C., office of PR Newswire doing a variety of things.
He spends half of his day proofing press-release copy, reading and checking for typos. Hurd then puts the release into the system and spends the rest of the day talking with PR Newswire clients, confirming press releases, troubleshooting, and assisting with customer service. He also curates @PRNauto on Twitter for PR Newswire.