Editor's Notebook, October 2000
Paul Newman is my role model. I know that many people admire him for the great work he has done to increase the variety and availability of salad dressings in the United States. I'm sort of an oil-and-vinegar kind of guy, though, and so his contributions to lettuce enhancement do not move me as much as they do others.
I took Paul as my role model on a brutally hot day in the summer of 1997. He and I were both trapped among a horde of auto racing fans in a small converted pasture somewhere near Columbus, Ohio. Temperatures were flirting with 100 degrees. The humidity was so high we could have used waders. More than 100,000 people were competing for the three portable toilets on the site and the ChampCar race was about to begin.
|Paul struggled forward...|
Paul Newman, because
of his spaghetti sauce empire, could afford to battle the crowds on a
fifty c.c. motor scooter while the rest of us were on foot. As time for
"Gentlemen..." approached, Paul struggled forward, patiently making his
way through the throngs of race fans, a solitary figure battling
increasingly difficult terrain.
It was then I realized that Paul Newman, with all the wealth and fame that accrues to a king of lettuce and pasta toppings, had a clear sense of what was important in life, what was to be fought for. Paul could have spent his time in any of the major fleshpots of the world. He had accumulated a fortune and a following in some aspect of the entertainment industry, I believe, before moving into jarred goods.
Paul Newman, now, was a principal in Newman/Haas Racing. This curiously eponymous team was fielding two drivers in the imminent race and Paul was struggling to get to the pits in time to wish his drivers well and be there as they took the green flag.
|set yourself a goal...|
This man, this great man
who could boast of more than 70 years on Earth and a wealth of
accomplishment, moving with grace through the crowd, demonstrated a wisdom
and a sense of centered well-being that surpasses description. It was if
he were talking to me, personally, telling me: If you had everything you
could want, were applauded by the masses, loved by your wife, and
cushioned on a stream of financial assets, you would still need to set
yourself a goal and strive to reach it.
For many of us, that goal is to be an integral part of auto racing, to participate, as our abilities and resources permit, in the grand spectacle and thrilling sport. We are, each of us, together with Paul Newman, a part of a great community that builds and sustains auto racing.
I was reminded of that blisteringly hot day just this past weekend, as I watched the Petit LeMans race from Road Atlanta. I had tuned in to SpeedVision to follow the fortunes of three Thunder Valley Racing featured drivers as they joined forces to compete in this classic endurance race.
Divina Galica, Cindi Lux, and Belinda Endress campaigned a Porsche 911 in the GT3 class. I noticed an old man, a man now 75 years old, driving a similar Porsche 911 in the race. Paul Newman, with fire in his eyes, ignored the thrusting microphone and intrusive questions of the television reporter as he waited his turn behind the wheel.
marveled at the fact that this "old man" was the fastest driver in his
three-man team. These same commentators marveled, near the conclusion of
the race, that the team of "three girls" was still in the points
I learned once more from my role model: ignore the intrusive questions, the small people who would set limitations for you based on age, on gender, on race, on background. If your passion leads you to be a member of the auto racing community, embrace that passion and strive, with all that is in you, to reach every goal you yourself set.