Paul Newman’s last competitive car – a 2002 Corvette racer adorned with patriotic red, white and blue paint – made it past the low end of the pre-auction estimates at a Florida sale over the weekend – but not by much.
The famous actor’s car brought $275,000 at RM Auctions’ sale in Amelia Island on Saturday, March 10, just above the bottom of the range of $250,000 to $350,000 that had been estimated by experts in the weeks before the sale.
Newman raced the car from 2003 to 2007, including in his last win at Lime Rock, Conn., about a year before he died September 28, 2008.
The car was first built by Riley and Scott for Tom Gloy Racing. Butch Leitzinger, in the 2002 Trans Am season, drove the Corvette to 3 wins, 5 poles, 8 top-fives, and 9 top-tens while wearing yellow Tommy Bahama paint and #88. In 2003 Newman and his partner and codriver, Michael Brockman, purchased the car from Gloy and finished it in the current red, white, and blue livery. It received a complete rebuild including a new body in 2007. The number 83 currently on the door represents Newman’s age at that time.
The car has a 346ci fuel injected V8 and puts out 700 horsepower. It weighs just 2,680 pounds and features 4 wheel disc brakes, independent racing suspension, and a six-speed manual transmission.
Newman was successful on the big screen and the race track. Nominated for 55 major acting awards, he first raced in 1972, later driving Datsuns for Bob Sharp Racing from the mid-1970s on into the 1990s. In that time he won four SCCA national titles. He also finished fifth in the 1977 24 Hours of Daytona and second at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans. His first pro Trans Am triumph came in Brainerd, Minnesota in 1982. He took the checkered flag again at Lime Rock in 1986.
At age 70, he became the darling of the gray-haired set as the oldest driver to be part of a team in a major sanctioned race and promptly went on to win his class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. Newman also competed in the grueling Baja 1000 in 2004 and the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2005. People may be more familiar with his Indycar team which he founded with Carl Hass in 1983. That organization won 97 races, 7 series titles, and claimed 100 poles.