Acting may have been Paul Newman’s career of choice, but racing cars was his passion. Those who competed against him quickly learned that he was good at it, too, as demonstrated by his four national championship titles and wins (or class wins) in events like Daytona and Le Mans. Since his 2008 death, comedian Adam Carolla has become the unofficial steward of Newman’s old racing cars, and on June 10, he’ll display 10 such cars – gathered together for the first time – this year’s San Marino Motor Classic in San Marino, California.
Newman’s 1971 Triumph TR6.
Newman first drove in a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) event in 1966, and his interest in racing came from training received for the feature film Winning, released in 1969. By 1973, he was competing in the SCCA’s annual Runoffs, vying for a National Championship. Newman finished ninth in 1973 and sixth in 1975, but in 1976, driving a D-Production Triumph TR6 (to be shown in San Marino), the actor-turned-racer captured his first SCCA National Championship. Three years later, in 1979, he’d take his second championship behind the wheel of a C-Production Datsun 280ZX, and in 1985 – ’86, Newman earned his final two SCCA national titles, driving a pair of Nissan 300ZX Turbos.
This twin-turbo V-8-powered 1979 Datsun 280ZX reportedly produced 933 horsepower.
Though Newman is most closely associated with Datsun and Nissan throughout his professional driving career, he also competed in a Porsche 935 at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing second overall and first in class with co-drivers Rolf Stommelen and Dick Barbour. The Dick Barbour Racing Porsche, wearing its famous Hawaiian Tropic livery, will also be shown in San Marino, as will a pair of unlikely contenders: two Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-Am cars from the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
The Dick Barbour Racing Porsche 935, which won its class at Le Mans in 1979.
The Pepsi-liveried 1989 Oldsmobile, raced by Newman in five events during the 1989 season, was powered by a turbocharged Buick V-6, while the 1990 car – with Rihga Royal Hotel sponsorship – was powered by a Chevrolet V-8. Once again, Newman raced five events during the 1990 season, with a single top-10 finish at Phoenix in the season-opener. It would be his final year with Newman-Sharp Racing, and while he’d continue racing into 2007, more of his attention was devoted to running his Indy Car team with partner
Gene Carl Haas.
1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-Am car, powered by a turbocharged Buick V-6.
1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-Am car, the last car raced by Newman for the Newman-Sharp Racing Team.
In addition to the race cars mentioned above, the Adam Carolla’s Paul Newman Collection presented by Passport Transport class will feature his 1978-’79 Nissan 200SX, which won 19 of 22 races during the two seasons; his twin-turbo V-8 1979 Nissan 280 ZX; and his 1987 Nissan 300ZX 2+2, the last Nissan raced by Newman.
1987 Nissan 300ZX 2+2, the last Nissan raced by Newman.
The 2018 San Marino Motor Classic takes place at Lacy Park in San Marino, and other classes include American muscle cars, Brass and Nickel Era cars, European Classics and Japanese Classics, and one dedicated to early Lamborghini sports cars. Proceeds from show go to benefit the Pasadena Humane Society and San Marino Rotary Charities; for additional information, or to purchase tickets, visit SanMarinoMotorClassic.com.