• Aug 26th 2008 at 9:28AM
  • 30
In the world of Hollywood where so many people are vacuous prima donnas, Paul Newman is one of the great exceptions. He is considered one of the greatest American actors and one of the classiest human beings. However, after 83 years, the Newman era is drawing to a close. About 18 months ago, Newman was diagnosed with lung cancer and he's not expected to live past the end of September.

Many fans of his acting are not aware of Newman's nearly four-decade long involvement in motorsports. Over the years he has racked up a second place finish at the 24 hours of Le Mans and a GTS class victory at the 1995 Daytona 24 hours... at the age of 74. For the last 25 years he and Carl Haas have owned one of the most successful IndyCar/ChampCar teams of the era, as well. Off the track and sound stage he has also raised over $200 million for charity through the Newman's Own brand of foods.

On August 13, the Lime Rock Park race track near his Connecticut home shut down for a couple hours so that Newman could take a few final laps in his GT1 Corvette. The world will certainly be a poorer place with his passing. If you haven't watched The Hustler, The Sting, or Butch and Sundance recently, now's probably a good time to put them in your NetFlix queue. Thanks for the tip, Luke!

[Source: SpeedTV]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      It is my hope to live a life a quarter as rich as Paul's. He was a great racer, a great actor, and a great man overall.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder If he brought any of his Salad Dressings with him.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Before you wrote that, did you have any idea that the Newmans Own brand has generated $250 million in profits that have been DONATED?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Paul Newman's illness is extremely saddening. He has always had class. We went to the same small liberal arts school in Ohio, Kenyon College. He has been generous in giving back to the school, most recently handing over $10 million. It comforted me knowing that someone with such a passion for racing and low key nature came from that institution. He made a fine alumni example. I bet if Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course had been around when he was there, he would have been draw into motorsports much earlier as well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How can you guys forget SlapShot??? Iconic movie.
      • 7 Years Ago
      He was always "just a racer" while at the track.

      I remember him once at Summit Point refusing a man's request for an autograph for his daughter. He said, "I don't sign autographs at the track, but if she's over 18, bring her over for a beer."
        • 7 Years Ago
        A few years ago I asked Carroll Shelby to autograph the big canvas bag they gave to journalists at the NAIAS. Since then it's been signed by all sorts of automotive personalities, including champion racers, plus some other athletes and celebrities that show up during media previews.

        Most racers are honored to put their names next to Shelby, Petty, Andretti, Stewart, etc. so if I asked Paul Newman for an autograph at a track I'd tell him it wasn't because he was a movie star or spaghetti sauce maker but rather because of his class win at Daytona.
        • 7 Years Ago
        PLN still wouldn't sign @ the track... He ties his autograph to his charity work! He will take as many photos with you as needed... hold up the bag in the photo!!

        He has made exceptions to this rule for his team members or friends. Crew & drivers of the 1995 Daytona 24 Roush Mustang got autographed 1/18th scale models among their "thank-you" gifts from Newman.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I saw him last christmas time in "Nobody's Fool". He was impressive in that role and and he is definitely an outstanding and wonderful person that deserves any respect. Hopefully his remaining days will be peaceful and without pain.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm generally not the type to go ga-ga over the Hollywood types, but I gotta say: I was up at Watkins Glen once watching the IMSA GTP races and happened to be standing in the Paddock area when Paul Newman drove up, and got out of his Nissan Race Car no more than two feet away from me.

      The Man OOOZED that larger than life Star Quality. He was both taller and better looking in person than I thought he'd be.

      By the way, The Hustler and The Color of Money. Rent them and watch back to back in that order. :)
      • 7 Years Ago
      one of the greats.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a life, hope he goes a few more years to prove em wrong.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Lung cancer? To my knowledge (which of course is not personal...) Paul Newman was not a smoker. Proves smoking isn't the only cause of this form of cancer.

        Paul Newman has represented his profession (acting) & his passions (racing & his charity work) with 100% class

        All the best as he fights on...
        • 7 Years Ago
        I believe it was azzo45 who said Paul Newman was not a smoker. In fact, he was a smoker. It's been reported many times in news articles about him.

        That aside, it literally pains me to know he's on the last lap - reminding me of Lime Rock where he loved to race. I saw him there in the 60's. I find myself looking every day for some news. I realize what a private man he is and has every right to be, especially at this time of his life. He's done everything with dignity and grace. He's an outstanding actor and humanitarian.

        I only pray that he isn't in a great deal of pain. I've thought of what I might say to him if I had the opportunity and all I could think of was, "Thank you, Paul, for everything you are, everything you've done and for all the pleasure you've given millions of people all over the world."

        Godspeed, Paul Newman. You will never be forgotten (sigh)
        • 7 Years Ago
        I dont hope for that, cancer is suffering... I hope he dies without months of that.

        He had a good life.
        • 7 Years Ago
        What a stupid comment, did I say I hoped he lived years in pain? God.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I remember someone once saying if Newman had started racing when he was younger he'd have been World Champion. Even with a late start, he didn't do too badly, did he? And let's not forget that, through his racing teams, he gave many drivers the opportunity to race and win in Can-Am and CART/ChampCar.

      Newman has giving far more to the world than he has taken, through Newman's Own and the Hole in the Wall Gang. And his career as an actor is legendary.

      That he has had a chance to do the one thing he loved-drive a race car-before it was too late is wonderful. And when he turns his own last lap, I will shed a few tears.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Classy article, Sam. You did a nice job of allowing me to reflect on his whole body of work, and that he is even moreso a good human being as much as a good actor.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Thanks for the tribute Sam. I have tears in my eyes as I'm writing this.

      I'm an actor and a college teacher and a racing fan since junior high school. My earliest memories of Paul Newman are from films of course. Between "Cool Hand Luke," "The Hustler," and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" in the early days to "The Verdict," "The Road to Perdition" and others from the 80's and after, he's always been one of my favorite actors and his talent has been and will be missed. I'm glad we'll always have the films.

      As a racer, we need to remember that he was one of the dominant sports car drivers of his generation. He won several national championships driving Nissan (Datsun in those days) Z's beginning in the 70's. Along with Steve McQueen he had a serious commitment to the sport and a serious talent for it.

      He was also one of the early pioneers for civil rights among the Hollywood elite and remained married to the same woman for more than 50 years.

      As a middle-aged guy (late middle age), he's one of my primary role models for aging because he lived his life flat out with grace and generosity.

      Peace brother Newman.
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