Winning - Racing Life of Paul Newman

This popped up on a facebook post and having watched him race when I was a kid, made me want to go watch it.

There is a point at 46:10 ish where Joanne says, “I saw this kid with his mother and she says, Do you know who that is. Yes, its Paul Newman. But, do you know who he is? Yeah, he’s a famous race car driver.” I am not saying she is talking about me, but growing up around Road Atlanta in that era, it could have easily been me or someone I know. I first knew of him as a Racer and only learned about him as an Actor as I got older. Funny to think my first thought when I saw him on the Big Screen was, I know that guy…he races cars! From the mouths of babes and the innocence of youth.

After watching this, so many memories of growing up around racers comes flooding back and how it was always more about the sport than it was about the fame. Just having the shot or being in the fight had more reward than any fame or fortune could provide. Proving your Might on the Track was the Ultimate Reward!

I know this is not a Karting related post, but I think when it comes to us ultimately being Racers, it hits true to home. It does not matter where you come from, how old your are or what your status in life, when the bug finds you there is no denying it!


So true Greg! Went to my first race in 1966 (CanAm Laguna Seca). Over the next 10 years, we went to EVERY pro (and ‘spectator’ SCCA) race at Laguna Seca and Sears Point … including the first ever race at Sears Point. Then my parents joined SCCA in 76 and started working corners. At that point we attended almost every SCCA & Pro race from Riverside to Sears point… something like 40+ race weekends a year. During that time I got to watch virtually every world-class driver (other than my favorite; Jim Clark), including watching PLN in his silver/black Datsun 510 through his Z-Car days. My family also got to work corners at multiple F1 races (Long Beach and Las Vegas).

Anyway, I got bit HARD by the bug at that first race. I asked for a racing helmet for my 7th birthday (my Dad painted it black with a white visor), and a few months later this was my costume for Halloween 1967 (suit sewn by my Mom, and most patched hand-made by my Dad). The only down side was that living in Northern CA, I spent the whole night explaining who I was. :grin:


So I have a client who was buddies with Newman and his wife. Apparently they liked to entertain a lot and would do these big salads. Their dressing was pretty good and that’s how the Newman’s Own started. I don’t know how many bazillions they have raised thus far, but it’s a pretty successful charity, I think.

I really enjoyed this movie as well. He had a legit racing career and seemed to enjoy the heck out of it.

I have a friend that was racing, I think at Indianapolis Raceway Park(Now Lucas Oil). After Saturday practice he and friends were sitting on the tailgate of the dually at nearby hotel talking about the day. A gentleman walked up and asked if they had been at the track that day. They had been and a racing discussion ensued. They talked about an hour about the difficult corners, and the corners they had figured out. That gentleman was Paul Newman. That friend said it was cool. In that moment they were a group of racers talking about their day at the track. The next day the press showed up to see Paul Newman the movie star. He spent most of that day in his trailer. I do not know anything about the days he did not race. On the days he did, he was just an avid racer that also happened to be famous.

My Dad raced a Formula V for many yeas when I was a kid. He also worked as a Tech Inspector for many of the Pro Races when he wasn’t racing. My Mom worked timing and scoring and as we got older, my brother and I worked in Tech with my Dad. I can remember seeing so many great drivers at the track. We would travel to several of the tracks in the Southeast. Daytona, Roebling Road, Charlotte, Nashville and Road Atlanta. My earliest memories of PLN was in the Sharp Z-car at Road Atlanta. He was quick and hard to beat.

I can also remember dressing as a Race Car Driver on Halloween. I was about 7 or 8 at the time. Seems that’s all we dreamed about at that age was growing up to go racing.

Ha, parallel lives; go SCCA brats! :grin:

My parents were chief and co-chief of the San Francisco Region flag crew for many years. As they got older, they both switched to on-corner communications, and as they got older still, my Dad went to Tech, and my Mom went to the starter crew and then eventually timing & scoring. My Dad worked his last race (at 85) in 2018, two months before he passed away, which was coincidentally the Friday of the SCCA Runoffs at Sears Point.

My Mom worked her last race (at 83) in the SF Region a couple of months ago, because she moved to NY last week. However, she’s only a couple of hours from Lime Rock Park, so I fully expect her to turn up there to work in T&S at some point. :wink:

My son had me listen to a podcast interview with one of the Hanson Brothers (from the Movie Slap Shot). He told a story about how he and his teammates were partying all night, then early in the morning the doorbell rings and it’s Paul Newman saying “the Slap Shot producer told me to meet him here so we can get a feel for how real hockey players live.” Hanson said “Come in, you can look around all you want, but I’m going back to bed.” Newman said “Do you have any beer?” Hansen said “In the fridge, help yourself.” Then Newman said “Do you mind if I watch the race on TV?” Hansen said “go for it.” So Paul Newman had a beer and watched a race while the film crew was researching the movie & characters.

To me, the thing that stands out about Paul Newman the driver is that he evolved from a legitimately slow SCCA driver to a legitimately fast and consistent Trans Am / IMSA driver. That is a very, Very, VERY rare occurrence. Sure he had the $ to drive whatever, wherever, whenever he wanted, and he had access to world class drivers for guidance, but HE had the commitment, and HE put in the work, HE opened his mind and changed the way he experienced and responded to driving around a track… impressive!


I come from a Vee family as well! My dad won the Runoffs in Vees in ‘76, the same year PLN won his first. We were pitted next to him. I was only 9 years old and had no idea he was a famous actor either!

Newman was a real racer. Got to watch him many times over the years, and he knew his craft.