NASCAR & Auto Racing

Loss of Newman felt deeply in NASCAR garage, well beyond

Kyle Petty said Saturday that Paul Newman should be remembered more for who he was than what he did.

"He wasn't the guy in "Cool Hand Luke" or his other movies, and he wasn't a race car driver," Petty said of Newman, who died Friday night at his home in Connecticut. "He was a great human being.

"He worked in Hollywood and lived in Connecticut. I think that says it all. ...He probably had more fun sitting in the back of trucks talking to race people or on the back of the truck talking to the guys in the movie industry who pulled the cameras. That's the guy he was."

Newman worked with Petty and his wife, Pattie, on the formation of the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina. That camp, as well as a sister camp about to be built in Kansas, is part of the Hole in the Wall Gang camp group that Newman began.

"It's because of him we have the camp," Petty said. "I was very fortunate and very blessed to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona with him one year. That was all fun. But when it came to camp he was dead-on. He was there for the ground-breaking and for the grand opening and he constantly called to check on us. The camps were as important or more important to him than anything."

Racing was a passion for Newman. He drove in sports car races and, at age 70, was part of a winning team in the 24-hour race at Daytona. He made his last start in that event at the age of 81. Newman was also a co-owner of an open-wheel team that won more than 100 races and eight championships on the Championship Auto Racing Teams and ChampCar World Series circuits.

Two years ago he was at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the premiere of the animated movie "Cars," in which Newman voiced the part of "Doc Hudson" in a film that also featured voice roles for seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and then-Lowe's Motor Speedway general manager Humpy Wheeler.

Tony Stewart has also worked with Petty on the camp program.

"Paul Newman was a phenomenal individual who made a profound impact throughout his life," said Stewart, who also has competed in the 24-hour race at Daytona. "His acting skills were well-known, but equally impressive was his desire to give back and help those who didn't get the same shake out of life that we did.

"He set the bar, not only with his giving but in how he gave. ...Paul did it right, and he did it with class."

Related stories from Modesto Bee

  Comments