By Martin Desouza
It is undeniable that in the pursuit of a passion, adversity is inevitable. Canadian professional racecar driver Tim Hauraney came to this realization early and often in his career. No matter how fast he could drive, adversity would catch up to him around every corner, and straightaway.
Hauraney recounts several difficult situations he had been able to endure in his pursuit of becoming a professional.
In racing academy, Hauraney would spend months fixing cars for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, just to be able to test the Formula 2000 cars and sharpen his skills.
While racing in the ChampCar Atlantic Championship, Hauraney had to place high enough in each race to earn enough prize money to finance the next race.
Hauraney was even forced to sleep in the transport truck, which carried his car on a tour across North America, while competing in the Formula Renault Series (Fran-Am) – a feeder system into Formula 1.
“While other drivers were flying first class and sleeping in five star hotels, I laid my head to rest at many of the wonderful roadside truck stops across America. Truck stops are… interesting places to say the least,” Hauraney laughs.
Despite all of the challenges, nothing compared to 2008 when North America entered the worst recession in 75 years.
“I drove a rusty old 1987 Mazda 626 with no heat,” Hauraney says.
Not exactly the car you’d expect one of Canada’s most illustrious racecar drivers to use to earn a living.
“Sponsors and owners tightened their wallets, racing teams folded, and I had to find a way to earn a living. I moved home to Peterborough, Ontario and got a job delivering pizzas.” Hauraney says.
In 2008, Hauraney was a local celebrity known for driving some of the fastest, most expensive automobiles on the planet, who found himself driving a car worth $800, chasing teenagers for tips. He went on to confess that it was without a doubt the lowest point of his career.
Prior to the recession, Tim Hauraney was one of the most promising young drivers in racing.
In 2005, the Formula Ford 1600 rookie of the year found himself all over newspapers and magazines as he made his ChampCar Toyota Atlantic Debut at the Honda Indy in Toronto, his home event. Race fans knew Hauraney as an aggressive, dynamic, and calculated driver. Owners and managers knew his true strengths were in his knowledge of the cars, his attention to detail, and his ability to provide accurate feedback for his team to make adjustments on the fly. This ability was the most important characteristic that teams look for in their driver and one that helped Hauraney develop an elite reputation in the racing community.
In 2008, however, Hauraney’s abilities and reputation didn’t matter to team owners.
“Teams were looking for money, not talent. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the financial support that many other drivers had, so I was left without a team to drive for. Psychologically, It was very difficult to accept. I definitely felt that my passion for racing was fading,” Hauraney describes.
A passion that began by fixing cars with his father, and grew stronger watching the likes of Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna tear up the track on TV, was once again struck with the difficult reality that auto racing is the most expensive sport in the world.
A full season competing as a semi-professional racecar driver costs about $1,000,000, which made sponsorships, and wealthy team ownership essential.
Even though Hauraney was no longer racing, he did maintain a part-time job touring the US working for car manufacturing companies on a segment called “Editor for a Day.” He would educate consumers using his expert knowledge of cars, while they test-drove the cars on a track. The driving program was turned into a TV commercial and aired in several states.
“I played an intricate role in developing the program and the production experience added a new dimension to my career,” Hauraney says.
This experience helped Hauraney to transition when a new opportunity presented itself from an unlikely source.
Prior to Dan O’Toole becoming the news anchor for Fox Sports Live in the United States, he was the anchor for TSN in Toronto.
O’Toole is a big racing fan and a former fan of Hauraney’s. The anchor recognized that Hauraney’s racing career had slowed down as a result of the recession and he asked Hauraney if he’d ever considered applying his professional racing knowledge and experience to a role in sports media.
O’Toole recommended that Hauraney take a crash course in journalism at the Toronto College of Sports Media.
“Dan pulled me aside and pointed out that racing is a good niche for TSN which I could add value to. He knew TSN’s Formula 1 product could be better and that there was huge potential for me, and the product” Hauraney says.
As he had done so often in his career, Hauraney put his head down and worked relentlessly to learn the ins and outs of his newfound industry.
He spent months learning as much as he could about the production process, and before he knew it, he became a lead producer for TSN’s racing content, and the official racing analyst.
Hauraney has interviewed some of racing’s biggest stars including the likes of James Hinchcliffe, Nicholas Latifi, Lance Stroll, and Lewis Hamilton.
When asked how Hauraney handled the challenging transition, O’Toole says, “Tim was able to make the jump from the driver seat, to the analyst seat, without even a wobble. He brought his expertise as a racer, and delivered it to the viewer in a very digestible way. Tim not only has the ability to break down races, but also get inside the minds of the current drivers, like he did with Lewis Hamilton.”
Evidently, what seemed like an unfortunate end to a once promising career became revitalized by the perseverance of a man so committed to his craft.
These days, Hauraney continues to apply his advanced knowledge of cars as a product specialist for Ferrari and Maserati.
He also helped forge a television deal between TSN and Nissan in which he acts as the producer and star of their television commercials.
The zealous athlete turned analyst is evidence that through determination and persistence, no amount of adversity can overcome a person committed to pursuing their passion.