I shook Paul's hand after a victory at Nelson Ledges Raceway (northeast OH) back around 1975. My mother was so excited to hear my report. She asked (with a twinkle in her eye), "What did he look like in person?". I said, "Aw Mom! He's an OLD MAN!". We still chuckle over that story from time to time.
In the late 60's I ran my one and only race in a formula Ford at Summit point and our pit was two cars away from Paul's. As a nineteen year old, I was in awe of meeting such a star. I went over to his pit where he had his head under the hood of a Datsun Z car, he stood up shook my hand like a regular guy and let a two minute fart. I'm sure my buddies and I have laughed about that a hundred times over the years. What a regular motorhead and great screen actor. RIP Paul.
I too met Paul Newman at Summit Point raceway in I believe 1984. At the time I was racing Formula Fords and we padocked between Paul Newman and Tom Gloy. We were a support race for the Trans/am race that weekend. So for those three days I gotta a chance to have some brief conversations with P L Newman which is the name he went by at the track. I can tell you he was one of the neatest guys I've ever met. I guess he was in his late 50's when I met him he looked like he was 40. Every morning he'd ride his unicycle by our teeny tiny race team and ask how it was going and we would have a brief chat. Meanwhile my wife, and my friends girlfriends almost stroked out, he had that kind of effect on women. One day I asked him if he ever got tired of all that attention that he got from women. He's brief reply" nah never get tired of that". A buddy of mine party with him at the Holiday Inn in Winchester, Va. that weekend. It must have been some party, they were asked never to come back! In those three days we had maybe a total of eight minutes conversation and in those eight minutes he made me feel like the movestar. He was one of those people who had the ability to make you feel like the special one. He was one cool guy, a real superstar, a person that you would like to become yourself. The world really has lost a great guy here, even though he lives on by the many foundations he created. P L Newman will be missed.
I had the pleasure of helping Paul test our brakes on his race car at Road America. He tested our brakes for the first time there. When he came to the paddock and took off his helmet I asked him what he thought. "Great fucking brakes. We're racing them." He had a reputation for not doing autographs. That night I called my Mom in Florida to tell her I had been working with him. She was thrilled. Next morning I dropped by his pit and he agreed to write a note to my Mom in my race record book. She was so proud of that note. For several years I helped the Newman Haas CART team and had many occasions to see Paul and his wife at the paddock hospitality. She had him wrapped around her finger. Great to see their relationship intact after all those years. I visited in Daytona when his car # was 76 (his age). His stints were getting shorter but he was still out there running darn good lap times and having a great time. He was totally unpretentious and such a great competitor. A rare human with so many gifts, Paul set an amazingly high bar for other men. And he had the best smile.
I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Newman several times at Road Atlanta during SCCA races in the days when he first started in Datsun 510's and later in Z cars in both SCCA and IMSA. Ditto above. Just a regular guy at the track. During the runoffs (SCCA Championships) one year, I was working corner 7 by myself as a cornerworker. This was one of practice days early in the week, so not a big crowd. He walks up to me and we discuss the proper line to come through Turn 7 for about 30 minutes or so. We didn't even talk movies.
Several years later, during an IMSA race through the streets of Detroit, his car broke at the turn I was working. He parked the car, climbed over the guardrail and took a seat waiting for the practice session to end, so he could be towed to the pits. I brought him some water he looked at me and said, don't I know you. He did not remember my name, but recognized me from our talk at Road Atlanta. Simply amazing.
It sounds like a cliche, but the world is a much poorer place with him gone.
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