Paul Newman passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. He was best known for his riveting roles on the silver screen, and for being a very charitable man. His Newman’s Own line of products donates 100% of its profits to charity ever since the inception.
But most noteworthy to this particular site, was that Mr. Newman was quite the accomplished race car driver. Newman raced sports cars at Daytona, Le Mans and Sebring. He began racing rather late in life because he said, "It’s the first thing that I ever found I had any grace in. I’m not a very graceful person."
His favorite sound was the "rumble of a V-8 engine," he said. Newman once said, "I was never a great driver. I started racing when I was 47 years old, but I got to be pretty good. I was a pretty good driver for about five years."
Indeed he was. At his prime on the track, Newman was a force to be reckoned with. He joined up with Datsun Motors in 1977 and two years later, the combo of Datsun and Newman won the 1979 SCCA Championship, a feat which he called, "better than winning the Oscars." Legend has it that he refused payment and instead suggested that his compensation should be product from the car’s primary sponsor, Budweiser.
Newman went on to become the number one driver for Datsun’s effort in the professional SCCA Trans-Am racing series.
As far as his acting goes, he was no second-rate actor either. Newman endured a long list of hits during his career including Hud, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hudsucker Proxy and The Verdict. He later won an Oscar for The Color of Money. Between 1963 and 1986, Newman was one of the top 10 money-making movie stars for 14 years until he formally retired from acting in May 2007.
But again, it was clear with Newman’s last role where his true passion was. As the voice of "Doc Hudson", a 1951 Hudson Hornet in the Pixar-animated, NASCAR-inspired hit Cars, Newman won over a whole new genaration of viewers. He would later go on to say, "I did it mostly because I knew it would be good," he said. "That it was about racing was just a bonus."
But alas, his last dying wish says otherwise. Though sick and weakening by the day, Newman wanted only one thing before he went, a lap of a racetrack in his favorite Corvette GT-1 race car. A few months ago, he got his wish and had his GT-1 flying around Lime Rock raceway like a seasoned pro. Godspeed Paul, the checkered flag is waiting for you.
Newman lapping Lime Rock at a racer’s pace.