By admin | September 27, 2008
By Richard Allen
The news of Paul Newman’s death not only signaled that America had lost an acting legend but also that a loved member of the racing community was gone.
Newman starred in numerous movies throughout his career as an actor and was awarded an Academy Award for his role in The Color of Money in 1986. However, many fans of all types of motorsports recognized him as he often wanted to be recognized, as a racer.
As a driver Newman was not just some actor with enough money to go out on a track and play around. He was a serious racer. He won four national championships while competing in the Sports Car Club of America. Also, he finished 2nd in the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race in 1979.
Newman raced for the last time in the 2006 Rolex 24 in Daytona at the age of 81.
It may have been as an owner that Newman made his greatest impact in the auto racing.
The actor known for his blue eyes teamed with businessman Carl Haas to form one of the most powerful organizations in open wheel racing history. Drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Sebastian Bourdais and others combined to win 107 races and eight CART/Champ Car championships for Newman/Haas Racing.
On more than one occasion, Newman was able to combine his acting talents with his love of racing. Of recent note, Newman lent his familiar voice to such projects as “Dale”, a documentary on the life of NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, and the animated feature, “Cars”, as the voice of “The Fabulous Hudson Hornet”, Doc Hudson.
Hollywood has lost a true icon in the movie industry. However, racing has lost a true friend with the death of Paul Newman.
Perhaps rather than saying Newman has died it may be more appropriate to say that he has taken his last checkered flag.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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