Newman grabs the wheel at Daytona testing By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 1999) Add another role to the repertoire of veteran actor Paul Newman. How does test driver sound? Newman took the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet owned by ...
Newman grabs the wheel at Daytona testing By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 1999) Add another role to the repertoire of veteran actor Paul Newman. How does test driver sound? Newman took the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress and took six laps around Daytona International Speedway Thursday, posting a top speed of 184.653 mph. "He did a great job," said a grinning Childress when Newman brought the car in afterwards. "First time in a Winston Cup car, and this car's got a race set-up on it. He ran a 49.15, and we were running 49.05s today, so that's impressive." Actually, it wasn't exactly Newman's first trip around Daytona in a stock car -- nor, apparently, was it his first trip in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car -- but it was his first at the age of 73. "It was a real kick," said Newman, who won his class in the 1995 Rolex 24 At Daytona 24-hour sports car race as a spry 70-year-old. "I've driven a stock car here a couple of times but only for a couple of laps. It was a race set-up (Thursday), so it was pretty comfortable. It wasn't dicey at all." Was he nervous? "Actually, I was hoping they could trim the car out," he said. "I think I could have gone faster." According to numerous sources, Newman first drove a stock car at Daytona in about 1986, when he stopped by with movie sidekick Tom Cruise and wrung out a NASCAR Busch Series Chevrolet owned by Rick Hendrick at better than 180 mph. Newman was involved with movie stunt man Stan Barrett in several racing ventures in the early 1990s and made an appearance at Daytona, where he briefly tested a NASCAR Winston Cup Series car. Newman was in Daytona Thursday as a guest of Stan and Stanton Barrett's. The younger Barrett is testing his No. 84 PBH Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo in hopes of making the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 14. "He came down just to hang out," said Barrett, who earlier had indicated the team might field trucks in several NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races for long-time family friend Newman and the elder Barrett, who was NASCAR's original Skoal Bandit. "He's been a friend of mine and my dad's for a long time. He's known me as long as I can remember. He's always been interested in helping me in my career. He helped Richard Childress put me in my first car. Paul helped sponsor my next year in the Dash series. He's been a supporter of my program coming up through the years." As for the elder Barrett, he was a supporter of Newman's after his blistering six-lap run. "I'm his agent," Barrett said. "So we'll talk about it from here." The man who listened to Newman over the radio during his run was Larry McReynolds. Larry Mac said Newman -- a former two-time SCCA club racing national champion who began racing seriously as a hobby in the mid-1970s -- didn't say much, but his driving spoke volumes. "That was pretty neat," McReynolds said. "He's a very successful racer who's had a long racing career as well as other careers he's pursued. To be a part of him coming down here and making a few laps at Daytona ... it's neat that he could do it in the Lowe's car, and for me to be on the other end of the radio talking to him. "He really wasn't saying a whole lot. And I didn't talk to him a whole lot. I just kind of made him aware of when to go and maybe take a peek at the water temperature and a few things. So maybe that's something that'll be neat to bounce my grandkids on my knee and say 'You know, I talked to Paul Newman on the radio -- he drove our race car.'"
Source: NASCAR Online