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Paul Newman's memory honored at Lime Rock

A section of the track is renamed after the legendary racer, actor.

SALISBURY, Conn — A section of the historic Lime Rock Park racetrack was re-named Saturday for the late racer, philanthropist and actor Paul Newman. 

“No Name Straight,” section of the racetrack was renamed “Paul Newman Straight” in honor of the racer in a ceremony during the park’s Historic Festival. Newman considered Lime Rock his home base for many years.

The Historic Festival, in its 40th year, is a weekend dedicated to classic vehicles. This year the event marks the 70th year of the Chevrolet Corvette. On display are a number of rare and one-of-a-kind examples of America’s Sports Car, gathered for the first time in one place.

Newman’s connection to Lime Rock goes way back as well. Newman started racing after starring in the film “Winning.” He first raced in a Datsun 510 on Tuesdays at Lime Rock Park, according to Lime Rock officials.

RELATED: One-of-a-kind Corvettes to be shown at Lime Rock Park

As his racing skills improved, he joined with Connecticut racer, Bob Sharp. Newman moved up to larger, more powerful cars, becoming a regular in the professional Trans-Am championship. Newman scored his second of two Trans-Am victories at Lime Rock, in Sharp’s red, white and blue Nissan.

Newman’s car number always corresponded with his age. Driving number 82 car, a 900-horsepower Corvette, he won his last race at Lime Rock during a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) event.

The 2015 documentary “Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman” goes in great depth about the man’s history and connection to the sport. 

In 2005, FOX61 reporter Jim Altman took the opportunity to interview Newman as he prepared for the Burnham Hydronics 200 race. Altman said the rule at FOX61 was that if you got a one-on-one interview with Paul Newman, you got a day off.

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Altman recently looked back on that day, remembering how the interview came about. He and his videographer had been there for a press conference about the race where all the drivers were introduced.

After the formal introductions were over, Altman and his videographer followed the drivers back to where the race cars were being staged. Altman asked Newman if he could look at the racer. As they talked, Altman asked if they could talk on camera, and Newman, who was usually very reserved, said yes.

RELATED: Newman's Own sued by late actor's daughters

Around the track, other racers and crew respected Newman for his history and skills. They knew him from the pits to the track, and didn’t think of him as one of the world’s most famous movie stars. That day he wore a bright blue helmet with his initials P.L.N. on the side.

Altman asked him which was more exciting, acting in a movie as a leading man, or in a race as the leader of the pack? “The exhilaration is the same, but different. Completely different venues. I get as much fun out of one as I do the other,” said Newman.

In addition to owning a successful racing team, Newman himself raced until he was 82. He died September 26, 2008.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

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