Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rest in peace Paul Newman


Lime Rock Park Mourns the Loss of Paul Newman

Lakeville, CT – 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.

Statement from Newman's Own:

"Paul Newman's craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all. Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one's life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were. True to his character, he quietly devoted himself to helping offset this imbalance. An exceptional example is the legacy of Newman's Own. What started as something of a joke in the basement of his home, turned into a highly-respected, multi-million dollar a year food company. And true to form, he shared this good fortune by donating all the profits and royalties he earned to thousands of charities around the world, a total which now exceeds $250 million. While his philanthropic interests and donations were wide-ranging, he was especially committed to the thousands of children with life-threatening conditions served by the Hole in the Wall Camps, which he helped start over 20 years ago. He saw the Camps as places where kids could escape the fear, pain and isolation of their conditions, kick back, and raise a little hell. Today, there are 11 Camps around the world, with additional programs in Africa and Vietnam. Through the Camps, well over 135,000 children have had the chance to experience what childhood was meant to be.

"We will miss our friend Paul Newman, but are lucky ourselves to have known such a remarkable person."

PHOTO CREDIT: Alex von Kleydorff.
News used with permission from Lime Rock Park.

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