Paul Newman had an extremely successful career as a Hollywood actor, film director, producer, and entrepreneur. He starred in such iconic films as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Robert Redford, and many others. He even closed out his final acting performance as the voice of Doc Hudson in the Pixar movie Cars.
Speaking of cars, not only did Newman have a very successful film and acting career, but he also did quite well with his auto racing career and was both a race car driver and IndyCar owner. This guy had some talent behind the wheel, and because of that, we’re going to be looking back on what Paul Newman managed to get into during his car racing years.
Paul Newman’s Racing Career
Paul first got into motorsports while he filming for the movie Winning in 1969. He attended Watkins Glen Racing School to prepare himself and absolutely fell in love with the challenge. He attended his first professional event as a racer at Thompson International Speedway in 1972. For the remainder of the ’70s, he was frequently found competing in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events and managed to rack up four national championships. In 1979, he competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a beautiful Porsche 935 race car owned by Dick Barbour.
For the next decade, Newman competed as a driver for Bob Sharp’s racing team and commonly raced Datsun cars in the Trans-Am series. Newman got pretty close with Nissan over the years of racing and did multiple promotions and commercials for the company. Nissan even made a special edition Skyline that was named after him. In 1995, he competed and ended up winning his class in the 24 Hours of Daytona race, making him the oldest person (70) to be a part of a winning team at a major race.
Age didn’t stop Paul Newman, though, seeing as he kept driving into his eighties. He displayed the number 81 on his Corvette to reflect his age when he won at Lime Rock. It was reported that he was still running just as fast as his best times during the car race, even at the older age.
During the late ’70s, Paul was interested in becoming a team owner. He joined up with Bill Freeman to create the Newman-Freeman race team. It was a long and successful partnership between the two, and in 1979, they managed to take home the Can-Am team championship trophy.
Years later, Newman also teamed up with Carl Haas and formed the Newman-Haas Racing team. This team went on to win eight drivers’ championships under his ownership. Paul Newman’s last major races were the Baja 1000 in 2004 and another 24 Hours of Daytona race in 2005.
He certainly had a number of accomplishments throughout his racing career, and if you want to get a more detailed idea about it, Newman’s racing life was portrayed in the documentary Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman.
Although he passed away in 2008, Newman was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame at the national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009. A well-deserved honor, if you ask me.
This post was originally published on April 28, 2020.