Mini mem­o­ries of the day some Tin­sel­town magic was sprin­kled on a sod­den Thrux­ton cir­cuit, by His­toric Sports Car Club CEO Gra­hame White

Classic Cars (UK) - - News -

‘Af­ter a few laps they came into the pits and swapped seats so New­man could drive. We cer­tainly didn’t tell the race of­fi­cials or com­men­ta­tor, it was all kept low key – he thor­oughly en­joyed it’

One of my most trea­sured mem­o­ries is of the time I met up with the Amer­i­can film star Paul New­man. It was 1972 and he was in the UK mak­ing the Cold War thriller Mac­in­tosh Man for John Hus­ton, which was re­leased in 1973.

I was the CEO of the BARC at the time and had an of­fice in our head­quar­ters based in Argyll Street in Cen­tral Lon­don. One day the switchboard op­er­a­tor called me to say that there was a gen­tle­man called Paul New­man on the line and that he wanted to speak to me. She put him through and this charm­ing voice with a strong Amer­i­can ac­cent in­tro­duced him­self and said he’d love to come down to Thrux­ton and watch the rac­ing the fol­low­ing week­end. Ini­tially, I thought it was one of my friends try­ing to wind me up, but some­thing in his voice made me take him se­ri­ously. He asked how he could get a ticket, so I told him I’d de­liver one per­son­ally to the Dorch­ester Ho­tel where he was stay­ing.

By then New­man was en­joy­ing su­per­star sta­tus. Off screen, he first be­came in­ter­ested in mo­tor rac­ing while at­tend­ing the Watkins Glen Rac­ing School in prepa­ra­tion for mak­ing the film Win­ning, later host­ing a TV special in 1971,

Once Upon a Wheel, fea­tur­ing the his­tory of the sport. On his ar­rival at Thrux­ton, Paul made his way to the main of­fice. I was in Race Con­trol when one of the girls rang to say, ‘You’re not go­ing to be­lieve who has just walked in and is ask­ing for you.’ I made my way over to col­lect him. ‘I don’t want any fuss,’ he said. ‘I just want to have a walk round the track and see what’s go­ing on.’ Later, we met for a cof­fee and it was then that he asked if he could be driven round the cir­cuit. I sug­gested that we left it un­til lunchtime when there would be a break in the rac­ing, and I took him over to meet Richard Long­man, a well-known and very com­pe­tent driver who cam­paigned a Mini Cooper S.

In his usual re­laxed way Richard agreed and we fit­ted Paul out with a rac­ing suit and hel­met. De­spite the rain, af­ter a few laps they came into the pits and swapped seats so Paul could take the wheel. He thor­oughly en­joyed it. What made it so special was that it was to­tally unexpected and un­planned. We cer­tainly didn’t tell the race of­fi­cials or the com­men­ta­tor, it was all kept very low key. For me it’s a won­der­ful mem­ory, one of those lucky mo­ments when I met a very special per­son.

Lor­eiur? En­dae susam dis delisit eos cusam sin nis

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