At the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix in 2005, while walking around the track, which also happened to be downtown San Jose, I stumbled on a small go-kart track set up next to the main race. A rather large crowd had gathered. Wondering what was drawing a crowd I loitered for a few minutes. It was soon revealed that this was the sight of a charity go-kart race featuring none other than Paul Newman.
I stood on the edge of the track and watched as Newman lapped everyon, most of them a third of his age. Several of the Silicon Valley's richest had written big checks to charity so they could get spanked by a legend.
Paul Newman wasn’t just another actor who raced some cars in his free time. He took it very seriously.
He drove in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 935 and finished in second place.
From the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, he drove for the Bob Sharp Racing team, racing mainly Datsuns (later rebranded as Nissans) in the Trans-Am Series. At the age of 70 years and eight days, he became the oldest driver to be part of a winning team in a major sanctioned race, winning in his class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. Among his last races were the Baja 1000 in 2004 and the 24 Hours of Daytona once again in 2005.
In 1983, Newman co-founded Newman/Haas Racing with Carl Haas, a Champ Car team and later transformed into IndyCar. Newman/Haas Racing is among the most successful open wheel racing teams in the U.S. history.