Actor and race car enthusiast Paul Newman has lost his lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 83, passing away at his Connecticut home on Friday night.

The star, who fought his way to the top of the movie business, was a long-time fan of motor racing, indulging his passion both behind the wheel and as a co-owner of race-winning cars in sportscars, Champ Car and IndyCar.

Newman appeared in some 60 movies, including poolroom drama The Hustler and The Sting, as well as the immortal Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where he co-starred with Robert Redford. He earned nine Oscar nominations, finally winning the top honour for his role alongside rising star - and fellow race fans - Tom Cruise for Hustler sequel The Colour of Money.

He also starred alongside his wife, Joanne Woodward, in the racing-inspired film Winning, and kept his interest in motorsport allied to his profession by voicing the character of Doc Hudson in Disney/Pixar's Cars, as well as narrating the 2007 biopic of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

A charitable individual via the Newman's Own Foundation', which took its name from his range of foodstuffs, Newman also founded the Hole in the Wall Camps, which provided summer breaks for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and featured heavily on his Champ Car and IndyCar entries.

"Paul's Newman's craft was acting, his passion was racing, his love was his family and friends, and his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all," claimed Foundation vice-chairman Robert Forrester.

After retiring from the silver screen when he felt that he was no longer able to maintain the form he had shown throughout his career, Newman furthered the interest in motorsport that had begun on the set of Winning.

His Newman's first professional event behind the wheel came in 1972, but he showed his ability by contesting such major events as the Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing second in 1979 in a Dick Barbour's Porsche 935. Undaunted by his advancing years, he was still active at the age of 70, contesting the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1995.

Along the way, he helped found Newman/Haas Racing in 1983 with Carl Haas, the Champ Car team later becoming Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing with the addition of Mike Lanigan for 2007. He also helped to form a second-tier operation to foster young talent in the shape of Atlantic Championship team Newman Wachs Racing. Both teams continue following the unification of Champ Car and IndyCar racing in 2008, something that Newman initially opposed, but eventually gave his support to.

"On behalf of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, my wife Bernadette and myself, I want to express our most sincere condolences to Joanne and the entire Newman family on the loss of a great human being," Haas said in a statement, "Paul and I have been partners for 26 years and I have come to know his passion, humour and above all, his generosity.

"Not just economic generosity, but generosity of spirit. His support of the team's drivers, crew and the racing industry is legendary. His pure joy at winning a pole position or winning a race exemplified the spirit he brought to his life and to all those that knew him. We will truly miss him."

Newman's battle with illness first became public notice in June this year, the former chain smoker having been diagnosed with lung cancer. Although he continued to receive treatment until recently, he told his family he wished to die at home, eventually passing on Friday night at the age of 83.

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