Newman-Wachs Racing has admitted that events of the past week would make success in this weekend's Atlantic Championship showdown at Road Atlanta a fitting tribute to one of its founders.
Actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman founded the team, along with former Can-Am rival and long-time friend Eddie Wachs, in 2005 in a bid to create opportunities for young drivers and promote causes, and has enjoyed its most successful season to date as Jonathan Summerton pushes for overall and rookie honours. Newman, however, lost his battle with cancer at the weekend, passing away at his home in Connecticut a week before what could be his 'other' team's biggest achievement.
"Everyone at Newman Wachs Racing would like to send our condolences to the entire Newman family during this trying time," a team statement read, "Our thoughts and prayers will be with you.
"Paul's generosity, among many things, was legendary. His philanthropic endeavours included his well-known Hole in the Wall Camps, which allow for children who are ill to experience the simple joys of childhood without compromising their health."
That benefactor spirit also underpinned the formation of Newman Wachs Racing, and his partner insists that the team will live on.
"Paul's devotion to seeing that young men and women have the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and aspirations to become professional race car drivers was elemental in forming this team,” Wachs claimed, “We have lost a dear friend, but we will carry on in his memory, just as he would have wanted us to do.
"He was an amazing man and, actually, I think he was a racer first and an actor second. He was a gentleman and we are all privileged to have had him in our organisation these past few years. He will be missed.”
Road Atlanta hosts the final race on the 2008 Atlantic schedule, with Summerton poised to give NWR its first title - either overall or rookie - as a poignant tribute to its fallen founder. The American lies just eight points behind long-time leader Jonathan Bomarito in the main standings and holds a slim two-point advantage over Markus Niemela in the rookie championship.