Paul Newman died on 26 September 2008 at the age of 83. Famous for his acting and his spaghetti sauce, Newman also had an impressive career in motorsport.

Newman's motor racing connections are less well-known in Europe than they are in the US. He became interested in motorsport while filming the 1969 movie Winning, in which he appeared in his own driving scenes after training with Bob Bondurant.

His first race was in 1972 at the wheel of a Lotus Elan, and throughout the 1970s 'P.L.' Newman (as he was often referred to when racing) drove Nissan sports cars for Bob Sharp Racing.

In 1977 he finished fifth in the Daytona 24-hours. Two years later he recorded a fine second place at Le Mans in a Porsche 935, shared with Rolf Stommelen and Dick Barbour.

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Newman's class-winning Mustang at Daytona in 1995.

At the age of 70 Newman returned to the Daytona 24-hours to compete in a Roush Mustang, and claimed a fine class win with Mark Martin, Tommy Kendall and Michael Brockman.

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Newman (second from right) and colleagues celebrate their Daytona class win.

In the late 1970s Newman fielded a team of Can-Am cars and then joined forces with Carl Haas to run an IndyCar team in 1983. The Newman-Haas team has so far recorded championship wins for Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Nigel Mansell (1993), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004/2005/2006/2007).

Newman is said to have called racing "the best way I know to get away from the rubbish that goes with being a so-called 'Hollywood star'". I never met him, but I suspect he was as proud of his achievements as a driver and team owner as for his ability as an actor or the millions his Newman's Own brand raised for charity.

Paul Leonard Newman
Racer, team owner, actor, director, philanthropist
Born Cleveland, Ohio - 26 January 1925
Died Westport, Connecticut - 26 September 2008

Lead image: Autostock