A racer who supported his racing habit by acting – that’s how Paul Newman wanted to be remembered.Â An accomplished winner in both fields, Paul Newman died Friday, Sept. 26, after a long battle with cancer. He was 83.
Newman came to racing late in life, driving his first race car in his 40s. Bob Bondurant trained him to drive for the 1969 movie Winning at the then-brand-new Bondurant School, which at the time was using Datsun 510s and roadsters at Orange County International Raceway in California. Newman was the fourth student at the school. Costar Robert Wagner was the fifth.
“I asked him why he wanted to go to my school and he said, ‘I had two other movies I could make quite a bit of money in, but I wanted to see if I could drive a race car.’ ” Bondurant said.
Newman fell in love with racing from the start. “The first thing that I ever found I had any grace in,” he once said.
From the mid-’70s to the early ’90s, Newman drove for the Bob Sharp Racing team, racing mainly Datsuns and Nissans. He won four SCCA national titles: D-production in 1976, C-production in ’79 and GT-1 in 1985-86. He raced in Trans-Am and the Baja 1000.Â Newman never seemed to tire of the other side of the sport, though, staying behind the wheel long after most reasonable men had given up even playing golf. At 70, he co-drove a Mustang to victory in the GTS class of the 24 Hours of Daytona, the oldest driver to win a major sanctioned race. A decade later, he was still at it.Â (more)