IndyCar »

Tributes paid to Newman.


Paul Newman was introduced to motor racing in 1968 while filming a movie at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that brief relationship blossomed into a 40-year passion for the sport that included not only co-ownership of one of the most powerful teams in US open-wheel racing, but also his own successful driving career.

Newman, the Academy Award-winning actor and world-renowned activist and humanitarian, died on Friday, aged 83, at his home in Connecticut, prompting a flood of tributes from all the worlds he inhabited.

An extremely private man, he quietly admitted that he had never paid any particular attention to motorsports until the summer of '68, when he shot scenes at the Brickyard for the film Winning. It started out merely as the latest project in which he happened to be involved but, typically, he totally immersed himself in the role, and evidently something within it rubbed off.

An early indication came when he seemed to bond with Rodger Ward, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who served as the film's technical director and driver of the 'camera car' for some of the on-track sequences. When Newman flew in for an exploratory visit during the spring, he stayed the night at Ward's home and, once back for the three weeks or so of shooting immediately following the 1968 500, was a guest there on more than one occasion.

While virtually all of the 'staged' on-track sequences - which were intercut with actual 1968 500 footage - were performed by a half a dozen or so current drivers, the Bob Bondurant Driving School-trained Newman elected to waive the use of a stunt double. In the footage used from the actual race, the fictitious Frank Capua is really Bobby Unser, on his way to winning the 500 but, in the majority of the close-up cockpit shots, the helmeted figure is actually Newman, matching the speed of the camera car driven by Ward.

When shooting at the track wrapped up at the beginning of July, United States Auto Club director of competition Henry Banks went over to present Newman and fellow actor Robert Wagner with honorary USAC Championship driver licences. Upon returning to the USAC office, Banks revealed, with amusement, that, at the conclusion of the brief trackside ceremony, Newman had discreetly sidled up to him to inquire what he had to do 'to do to get a real one'.

It transpired that Newman's new-found interest was more than just a whim, and it wasn't long before he began competing at Sports Car Club of America [SCCA] regional events, and doing so, without fanfare, as merely PL Newman. He entered into a long-term relationship with Connecticut neighbour Bob Sharp and raced Sharp-prepared cars for many years.

More than two decades later, when Sharp's son, Scott, qualified for his first 500 in 1994 and was being interviewed over the public address immediately thereafter, a delighted, but ever-private, Newman casually strolled into Scott's line of vision between the battery of photographers and gave the young driver a heartfelt thumbs-up.

Newman's first SCCA victory as a driver came in 1972, with a Lotus Elan at Thompson, Connecticut, not far from his home. In 1976, he won his first of four SCCA championships, this one in D-Production. A title in C-Production followed in 1979, followed by a pair in the GT-1 category in 1985 and 1986. In 1982, he beat a stellar field of professionals to win the Trans-Am race at Brainerd, and he was to win a second Trans-Am event at Lime Rock, in his home state, in 1986.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Champ Car World Series.  2-4 June 2006. Milwaukee Mile.  West Allis. Wi. Paul Newman.
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 qualifies first Saturday, April 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. It the third pole for Power at Barber Motorsports Park, and he has notched two victories on the Alabama track. (Photo by Paul Webb for Chevy Racing)
Newman/Haas/Lanigan team mates James Hinchcliffe and Oriol Servia in Baltimore. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates after winning the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. August 2011. [Photo Credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchliffe on track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. August 2011. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Canadian local hero James Hinchciffe an unsurprising favourite with the press and media at Edmonton. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe in pit lane before heading out onto the streets of Toronto. July 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Indy 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand passes Paul Tracy during practice and qualifying for the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway - June 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Oriol Servia, who claimed third place on the grid for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Pole Day on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Justin Wilson and Paul Tracy chatting in the pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway practice. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe (CAN - Newman/Haas Racing) relaxed with his team during the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday, May 12 [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Paul Tracy, driving for Dragon Racing in 2011 in the IZOD IndyCar Series [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#24 Motegi Racing Wheels/ Dreyer & Reinbold racing`s Paul Tracy with Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#11 Team 7-Eleven Andretti Autosport`s Tony Kanaan chats with Paul Tracy.
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#24 Motegi Racing Wheels/ Dreyer & Reinbold racing`s Paul Tracy.
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#24 Motegi Racing Wheels/ Dreyer & Reinbold racing`s Paul Tracy.
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#22 Team Z-Line Designs/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing`s Justin Wilson with #22 Paul Tracy.
3-4 September, 2010, Sparta, Kentucky USA
#06 Newman Haas Racing`s Hideki Mutoh pitstop.

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Rick - Unregistered

September 29, 2008 3:48 PM

Met Paul (and Sebastien Bourdais) at a Champ Car race at Road America a few years ago. I was struck by how nice a guy he was, for being such a huge star. I will never forget meeting him, and how amazing the experience was. A GREAT actor, but his real passion was racing. We're going to miss you Paul. Truly one of the greats! RIP.

Don - Unregistered

September 28, 2008 4:17 PM

In a statement issued by the Newman Foundation, the charity organization mourned its founder saying he will be missed by all who surrounded him. "Paul Newman''s craft was acting. His passion was racing." For such a huge star, Paul was an incredibly humble man. Truly one of the great guys of all time. RIP Paul. We''re going to miss you.



© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.