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It's 10:26 a.m. Herve Filion walks out the front door of his $1.4 million home on three Long Island acres. He climbs into the backseat of the black Ford Thunder-bird. Jimmy Lennon, Filion's driver for the past four years, slides behind the wheel for the 75-mile trip to Freehold ( N.J.) Raceway. Says Lennon of their relationship, "We have our beefs."
Filion responds, "Yeah, but mostly we have our eggs."
It's the start of a day that will last 13 hours, 45 minutes, and already the visitor is puzzled. Which does not seem to bother Filion in the least. "You show me an eight-hour man, and I'll show you someone just passing through life, surviving. That's all," he says.
O.K. That one we can handle. Filion leans forward and inserts an Elvis tape, then settles his 5'6", 158-pound body back against a pillow and lights his fifth cigarette of the very young day. Fifty-one more will follow.
Says the 50-year-old Filion, "It's like this about smoking. If I really take care of myself, I'll grow old and die. If I don't, I'll just do the one."
He takes a long draw, coughs and begins to sing along, off-key, "Don't be cruel, to a heart that's true...."
And so begins another day in the life of harness racing driver Herve Filion. Driver? No, legend. And that's faint praise. Look what the man hath wrought:
? Filion has 12,208 wins—No. 2 on the list is Carmine Abbatiello with 6,966, and Abbatiello hardly drives anymore.
?In 14 of the past 22 years, Filion has been the leading driver in races won, and he has tied for first one additional year; No. 2 on the list is Michel Lachance, who has been the top winner four times.
? Filion has been named Driver of the Year 10 times; No. 2 is Lachance, who has been accorded the title three times.