Actor and racing car owner Paul Newman, 83, died Sept. 26 after a long battle with cancer near his Wesport, Conn., farmhouse.
Newman, not one to cash in on his good luck, often took odd roles on his way to Hollywood stardom In the 1950s and ’60s, he helped define the American anti-hero in such films as The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
But this being an automotive-centric website, let’s look at some of this accomplishments behind the wheel.
Newman began racing at age 47, participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other endurance races. At 70, he became the oldest driver to place in a professionally sanctioned auto race at the Rolex 24-hour race at Daytona. He ran the Bonneville Salt Flats, and many fellow drivers feel he could have been a full-time professional driver. Newman also won seven national SCCA amateur races and a pair of Trans-Am races and finished second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
One of his more famous quotes was, "Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood."
Later, Newman become an owner dealing with Indy cars. Over its 26-year history, the team has become one of the most storied in open-wheel history with eight championships and more than 100 wins with drivers such as Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastien Bourdais.
“On behalf of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, my wife Bernadette and myself, I want to express our most sincere condolences to Joanne and the entire Newman family on the loss of a great human being," said Carl Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "Paul and I have been partners for 26 years and I have come to know his passion, humor and above all, his generosity. Not just economic generosity, but generosity of spirit. His support of the team’s drivers, crew and the racing industry is legendary. His pure joy at winning a pole position or winning a race exemplified the spirit he brought to his life and to all those that knew him. We will truly miss him.”
And if you want to pick another label for him, why not try charity giver extraordinaire. Proceeds from his Newman’s Own line of salad dressings, etc., doled out more than $175 million from his foundation. All in all, not bad for an actor, driver and luminary in so many fields.