Lime Rock Park Mourns the Loss of Paul Newman
Lime Rock Park lost a legend, a friend and a fan this weekend as Paul Newman, age 83, passed away last night, 26 September 2008, at his home in Westport, CT. With ten Oscar nominations, countless awards and credits, Newman's film career was well documented for the excellence he created in front of and behind the camera. At Lime Rock Park, Newman was a very competitive racer winning numerous events throughout the years with his last win being this very same weekend in 2007, the Sports Car Club of America NARRC Championship GT1 Class. And today, Lime Rock Park remembered Newman with a moment of silence between race groups.
That legendary career took a new turn in the early 1970's when he took an interest in auto racing while filming Winning. Newman became an active racer, cultivating a second career that many racers would cherish. His passion for the sport was no mere fancy as he became a tremendously successful team owner while also continuing to compete as a driver. In the same way that Newman astounded the critics with his ability to age with grace and perform with vigor deep into his life, he brought that same incredible performance to the track, even setting a record by becoming the oldest Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona winner at 70 years old.
A philanthropist with a heavy disdain for any sense of entitlement and glory that those in the limelight often crave, Newman considered Lime Rock Park a second home (a backyard playground), who lived far from Hollywood in (Westport), Connecticut. His unassuming manner meant that Lime Rock Park guests never knew if they might bump into him at the track, getting ready to strap into his GT-1 Corvette and taking the checkered flag on an SCCA race weekend or maybe just rumbling through the paddock in a deceptively fast Volvo station wagon.
“Everyone treated him as a fellow competitor, not as a celebrity,” stated Skip Barber, President of Lime Rock Park. “He came here as a racer, was serious about his racing and…he was good. It was amazing that he was as good as he was at his age. And, he liked going fast. Back in the day when Bob Sharp was building the incredibly fast Nissans/Datsons, Newman was racing at Long Beach with Sharp along with the Indy Cars. Newman was the fastest guy down the straight – faster then the Indy Cars. And when I say fast, I don’t mean lap time…I mean speed. He always enjoyed having a car with a big motor. He was a huge supporter of the track. Everyone (the staff, friends and myself) at Lime Rock Park will miss him.”
But beyond statistics, those amazing blue eyes, and a sense of grace that he brought with him no matter if he was waiting on the false grid or heading to the Oscars, Lime Rock Park mourns the loss of a racer, a humanitarian, a gentleman and a true hero. He will be missed by all.
Thank you, PLN.