Paul Newman, 1925-2008

Best known around the world as legendary movie star, Paul Newman was equally famous in the motorsport community as both a leading IndyCar team owner and a highly successful sportscar driver, whose competitive career lasted over 30 years

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

Newman's involvement in motor racing began via his film career, when he played the role of an Indycar driver in the 1968 film Winning.

The part fired his enthusiasm for the sport, and it didn't take long for Newman to add real life racing endeavours to his fictional exploits, as he made his competitive debut in 1972 in a Lotus Elan in a sportscar event in Connecticut.

Although his film career always took priority, he continued to compete regularly - primarily in sportscars - for most of the rest of his life, and with great success.

His finest achievement was at the 1979 Le Mans 24 Hours, where he finished second in a Dick Barbour Racing Porsche 935, alongside team owner Barbour and Rolf Stommelen.

He was also a regular competitor in the Daytona 24 Hours, taking fifth place overall in 1977, and winning the GT1 class in 1995 at the age of 70.

Newman also claimed several championship titles in American domestic series, starting with an SCCA D-Production class crown in 1976, adding further championship in the C-Production class in 1979, and back-to-back GT1 titles in 1985 and 1986.

By that time he was firmly established in a second motorsport career - this time as a team owner. He had created Newman Racing as a Can-Am operation in 1978, with his driver line-up including future Formula One world champion Keke Rosberg plus US legends such as Al Unser Sr.

When the Can-Am series folded in 1983, Newman switched to open-wheel racing and joined forces with former arch-rival team owner Carl Haas to create Newman/Haas Racing.

This now-legendary team signed former world champion Mario Andretti for their first season in what was then known as the CART Indycar World Series, taking the first of many wins just six races into the season, and then claiming their maiden title only one year later.

Newman/Haas would be a dominant force in CART/Champ Car for much of the next two decades, eventually taking eight championships, four of them with Sebastien Bourdais in the final four years of the series. He was also instrumental in Nigel Mansell's 1993 CART success, which paved the way for the explosion of international interest in the championship in the mid-1990s.

Newman had been bitterly opposed to Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George's rival Indy Racing League and was a vocal opponent of the breakaway championship in the early years of the split.

But as Champ Car struggled in the 2000s, Newman pushed hard to reunite the warring series, and was delighted by this year's merger - making a symbolic return to Indianapolis in May this year.

Although his role in the Newman/Haas team was Newman's highest profile motorsport involvement in recent years, he continued racing into his 80s, regularly contesting the Daytona 24 Hours, and winning SCCA GT races as recently as 2003.

Away from the track, Newman was much-admired for his charitable work, and he used his motorsport connections to promote many good causes - most recently his Hole in the Wall Camps for children facing serious illnesses.

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