Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman

Winning Racing Life of Paul Newman BookAutomotive book publisher Motorbooks recently launched  a new book about Paul Newman. “Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newan” was written by Matt Stone and Preston Lerner with a foreword by none other than Mario Andretti himself, a personal friend and driver for Paul Newman.

Most people know Paul Newman for his movies. As a slick pool player in “The Hustler” and then in “The Color of Money” and he could do comedy too in “Slap Stick”. These movies and a long list of others made Paul Newman a Hollywood legend!

But the book, good for me, doesn’t cover the movie side of Paul.  “Winning” focuses on how Paul Newman got into racing, the team’s he owned,  the cars he modified for the street and the many race cars he drove and his impact on the people surrounding him.

Paul Newman didn’t start racing until he was 47 years old.  Many speculate that if he had started when he was 17, (or younger like the racers growing up now behind the wheel of shifter carts) he may have been one of the greats.  He wasn’t fast right out of the gate, but he was serious about racing and learned over the years, gradually getting faster and faster and racing larger, more powerful cars as his skills improved.  By the 1980’s he was a very successful driver in the IMSA and Trans-Am series.

Here’s some interesting tid-bits from the book giving you a glimpse into Paul Newman’s passion for racing:

Bob Sharp Racing, Datsun 510, Paul Newman, Richard Yagami photography

Photo by Richard Yagami

One of my favorite parts of Paul Newman was that he began his amateur racing career in Datsun’s with Bob Sharp Racing.  He drove one of my favorite cars, the Datsun 510.

Paul Newman made it to the SCCA Runoffs 11 different years, ranging from 1973 to 2002 and won 4 times, making the podium 10 of the 14 times he ran at the SCCA Runoffs.

Paul owned a VW convertible with a Porsche engine, brakes, sway bars and  suspension goodies.  This was in the ’50’s!

Photo by Richard Yagami

Photo by Richard Yagami

Paul had a Volvo 960 station wagon built with a Kenne-Bell blown Ford V8 and 5 speed manual and then 3 960’s built with Corvette LS engines and manual transmissions. One went to David Letterman, who is into cars and a friend of Paul Newman.  Oh, he also had a Buick turbo V6 swapped into a Volvo as well with a 5 speed manual in the late 80’s, Paul was into “sleepers” obviously.

Paul Newman was the voice of Doc Hudson in the “Cars” movie.  For the premier of the movie, which was shown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Newman (about 80 years old at the  time) took a custom built ’51 Hudson body mated to a Craftsman Truck Series chassis and drove it over 160 MPH on track!

Paul Newman, GT1 Corvette, Lime Rock,

Photo by Randy McKee

There’s so much more to this book for the car enthusiast.  There are comments from former drivers that raced for Paul under the Newman/Haas CART/IRL/Champ Car teams, names like Mario Andretti and his son Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Christian Fittipaldi and more.  Others like Bob Sharp, David Letterman and many more including competitors, actors and pit crew shared experiences they had with Paul Newman.

One of the greatest compliments that was mentioned over and over throughout the book was that he was a “regular guy”, who saw himself as a racecar driver first, actor second.  He was passionate about cars and racing.  The book has great glossy photographs that document his racing career through the years.

Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman will make a great addition to your car book libary!