Paul Newman was a very rare man. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars through the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Newman was also renowned as an honest gentleman of few words and a philanthropist who founded the Hole in the Wall Camps for disadvantaged children and gave away more than US$250 million to help poor kids around the world. Newman was a successful amateur racer in GT and sports cars, and co-owner with Carl Haas of America’s second most successful open-wheel racing team, known today as Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Over the past 26 years the team has won eight CART or Champ Car titles (with Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Cristiano da Matta and Sébastien Bourdais) and 107 races, second only to Penske Racing.
Newman was one of the most laid-back yet fiercely motivated men I’ve ever met. He spoke quietly and thoughtfully. The words didn’t tumble out. Often, there was a pause after a question as he considered his reply. He possessed an artist’s temperament and a racer’s soul, and was a totally straight, fine man who always did the right thing for his family, friends and employees, as well as the many children he helped through the Hole in the Wall camps. Over the past 20 years Newman established 10 camps – eight in the United States, one in Europe and one in Africa –and philanthropy became the defining element of his life.
For Hollywood’s elite he was the man they wanted to be. To the world he was an uncommonly handsome movie star who played a wide range of cool customers and also directed and acted on the stage with considerable success. Newman made 65 movies, many of them classics, and also enjoyed an out-of-the-limelight marriage to Joanne Woodward. They lived far from Hollywood in an 18th-century farmhouse in Connecticut, where they quietly raised three daughters.
Newman stumbled on motor racing when he starred in the 1969 movie Winning. He met Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, A J Foyt, Parnelli Jones and the Unser brothers, and was taught the fundamentals of racing by Bob Bondurant. He started racing four years later and went on to win five SCCA national championships driving C and D-Production Bob Sharp Racing Datsuns.
In 1979, Newman successfully tackled Le Mans, co-driving a Porsche 935 turbo with Rolf Stommelen and car owner Dick Barbour to finish second. He also started more than 60 Trans-Am races and won twice, at Brainerd in 1982 and his home track, Lime Rock, in ’86. He continued to race occasionally through last year, winning some local club races in his Trans-Am-spec Corvette, and after releasing himself from hospital and the chemo treatments he’d been receiving this past summer to spend his last few months at home, Newman took his Corvette to Lime Rock to enjoy some final laps around a circuit he loved.
Over 40 years of covering motor racing I’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know many accomplished people, but I never met a man I liked and admired as much as Paul Newman.
Rob Arthur, who died in September, was in the tradition of British co-drivers distinguished by their professional ability combined with a sense of fun. Arthur started in road rallying, moving to stage events in the late ’70s. He did the 1977 London-Sydney in a Peugeot 504 before joining Terry Kaby on the 1981 Tour de Corse. He then read notes for Tony Pond in various Vauxhalls and Nissans, before they joined Rover in ’84. It was in the MG Metro 6R4 that they came third on the 1985 RAC Rally. With the Group B ban, Pond retired and Arthur guided Jimmy McRae to the 1988 British title in a Ford Sierra Cosworth. Later he organised classic events such as the Pirelli Marathon and Monte Carlo Challenge, and managed logistics for the Mitsubishi team. President of the Southern Car Club for 25 years, he organised many charity events. His contribution to rallying and his fund of stories was legendary. Our condolences go to his partner, Sue Bell.
Automotive engineer Henry Wessells, who has died aged 82, was one of the great Alfa Romeo collectors, historians and racers. The grandson of a US Civil War general, he was a founder of the VSCCA. After racing a Jaguar C-type in 1953 he bought the Jo Bonnier Disco Volante and the Dick Shuttleworth Tipo B, which he reconverted to single-seater form and ran in Europe. While working in Paris for US car body maker Budd he met Autodelta boss Carlo Chiti and bought a T33 Stradale, the sensational road-legal version of the sports-racer, which he drove enthusiastically. He restored Fangio’s Mille Miglia 3000CM to original form and raced that, his Talbot-Lago GP car and his rare 6C 1500 Testa Fissa, which lived with other Alfas on his historic Pennsylvania farm. His restoration of the Alfa 3000PR prototype was not quite complete when he died. A gentleman racer, he was also a keen beagler, enjoying both sports into his ninth decade.