Featured: Paul Newman’s Love Affair With Lime Rock Park

Paul Newman’s Love Affair With Lime Rock Park

By The Revs Institute
September 19, 2016
13 comments

Photography Courtesy of The Revs Institute

For those who enjoy motor-racing on a regular basis, Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park is known as one of the most historic racing circuits in the world. For those with a little less passion for the sport, the words “Lime Rock” were often read, spoken, and heard simply because that was the track were Paul Newman would race.

For those in and around the business and sport of auto racing, Paul Newman was never thought of as, “that actor who raced,” ever. Rather, he was simply and truly known as a superb and gifted driver who continually sought to improve his skill-set while always giving back to the sport.

Eight years ago now, Paul Newman made his final laps around the famous Lime Rock Park circuit. At 83 years of age—and sadly with only about one month left in his remarkable life—Newman took his beloved GT1-class Chevrolet Corvette out on the track and (to no one’s surprise) expertly drove it almost to its absolute limits.

Those final laps, at that age, at a track he truly loved, underscored and punctuated a career in motor racing like none other. For not only was Newman highly successful behind the wheel—having been, among other accomplishments, part of the winning team of drivers for his class at Le Mans at seventy years of age—he was also highly respected as race-car team owner.

That Newman was also an iconic and award winning actor, a successful business owner, and a philanthropist who, to this very day, helps countless people in need because of his ongoing charity, speaks volumes to his rare talents and humanity. A humanity which he himself, very humbly believed to be his greatest legacy.

The race car-driving, business owner philanthropist once summed it up this way, saying, “We are such spendthrifts with our lives. The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life, we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out”.

Paul Newman put exponentially more back into the soil than he took out. Those who knew him from his racing days know that to be especially true. And that is why racing—or attending a race—at Lime Rock is so very special. The track, the drivers, the fans, and the unique atmosphere of Lime Rock meant a great deal to him.

This story has been edited and used with permission courtesy of The Revs Digital Library, with full captions and more photography available at its website.

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jacobrajewski
jacobrajewski(@jacobrajewski)
4 years ago

We go to Limerock every year, amazing place in an amazing part of CT.

Glenn Cirlincione
Glenn Cirlincione
4 years ago

Saw my first road race at Lime Rock. 1973 Trans-Am. Close enough to the action to feel the speed. Got hooked on road racing as a result. Went back a year or two later for SCCA National. Watched Paul and Janet Guthrie both race in B/Sedan. Great memories.

Sifu Alex
Sifu Alex(@sifu-alex)
4 years ago

I used to help my cousin race his Formula Ford at Lime Rock back in the late 80’s. It was always a great circuit for these types of races. I’m going back this summer for a few events. They have a classic car race in early September. It’s 3 day event with a race and show of beautiful classics cars. There’s still a lot going on here.

MiataSteve
MiataSteve
5 years ago

Lime Rock has a magical feel for me as it was the first race I ever attended (1982 IMSA GT) as well as my first track day….a few weeks later. One Friday evening after a Trans-Am practice I saw him catching the last ray of the sun near the Climbing turn. My buddy and I were camped not far from him and there was nobody else around. I shout good luck to him and he got in his car and drove over to chat and ask my opinion as to why the attendance was so low. I was start stuck, be was just a racer chatting about racing. What a moment!

Keith
Keith(@grey0803)
5 years ago

Absolutely love Lime Rock, such a beautiful setting, and area for a track. It’s a deceiving track too, for how short it is you can really carry some speed throughout it. I never had the pleasure of seeing PN race there but I do visit every year for the Lime Rock Historics.

Stephen Oreña
Stephen Oreña(@sorena1959)
5 years ago

I was lucky enough to see Newman’s last race at Lime Rock. It’s a great place in a beautiful natural setting. I would encourage fans of racing and PN to see the documentary ‘Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman’ which is a very nice tribute to the man. Enjoy!

BDA
BDA(@bda)
5 years ago

I’ve never been to Lime Rock, but I’ve seen PLN race at Road Atlanta several times. The first time, he was driving a Datsun 510 in the SCCA Runoffs. I don’t think he won that time, but I saw him sitting all alone in the door of his trailer. He had the bluest eyes and the skinniest legs of anybody I’d ever seen.

I saw him later when he was driving with Bob Sharp. He and Joanne were coming out of the gift shop as I was walking up. I took the opportunity to “interview” him (knowing that he didn’t like to be bothered):

Me: Nice car (pointing to the Datsun Z car that was painted in a similar scheme as his race car).

Paul: It’s not mine.

Me: It’s still nice.

(I tried to minimize any annoyance I would be to him. )

Ok. That’s a vain remembrance, but I think it stems from my wish that I could have any relationship to him at all. I’m was not a fawning fan, but I recognized him as a great racer, a great philanthropist, and a great person and who wouldn’t want to be associated with that combination?

I know Lime Rock was special to him just as he was to the fans there, but he touched many more people in a way that most could only hope for. He will continue to be missed for a long time.

nis1973
nis1973(@nis1973)
5 years ago

Yeah, Lime Rock is special. It truly has the feel of a park. It has a nice intimate feel so different from other tracks. For a relatively small track it’s also really fast and tough to master…

Foxbaker
Foxbaker(@foxbaker)
5 years ago

PN what a great person….this place must be special