07-14-2007: Paul Newman Among Glen Nationals Drivers
WATKINS GLEN -- Paul Newman, who announced his retirement from acting in May, hasn't let his age slow him down.
The 82-year-old Academy Award winner's "other" passion is auto racing, which he developed an interest in after appearing in the film "Winning" in 1969.
The Westport, Conn., resident is competing in the 60th annual Glen Nationals at Watkins Glen International this weekend. The Sports Car Club of America-sanctioned event is the oldest continuous-running road race in North America.
Newman is among 325 drivers who will take part in practice and qualifying today, and 14-lap races Sunday, on the Glen's 3.4-mile Grand Prix layout. The 20 classes of cars, ranging from sports racers to street stocks and open-wheel racers, are divided into seven groups.
"It's the biggest event by far in the Northeast Division this year," said race registrar Judy Dennis of Webster.
Newman drives a Chevy Corvette in one of SCCA's fastest classes, GT-1. This year he's scored one pole, two SCCA regional-class wins and a second-place finish. His car's engine produces 640 horsepower and has a top speed of 185 mph.
"His competitors are amazed at how quick he is at his age," said Newman's crew chief, Bill Lloyd. "He's an inspiration for a lot of drivers, both young and old."
Newman was among 150 drivers who took part in testing at the Glen on Friday. His best lap of 1 minute, 55.7 seconds was just half a second slower than his 62-year-old teammate Mike Brockman in a similar Corvette.
Newman has competed regularly since the early 1970s, winning four amateur national championships, the last coming in 1986. At 70, he became the oldest driver to win at the 24 Hours of Daytona, co-driving to the GTS-1 class win in 1995.
The Glen Nationals are open to the public and fans can get a glimpse of Newman when his Group 5 GT-1 class takes to the track late this morning and again late this afternoon. His car, which is located in the main garage, bears car number 82, in reference to his age, and his trademark initials "PLN" (Paul Leonard Newman) are scripted above the door.