In that small group of gearheads that know the history of Paul Newman’s racing career, there is a singular minded individual: a person that had been studying Newman’s racing career and gathering up all his old race cars for years. That man is Adam Carolla.
Adam is widely known for his time hosting The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel or his remarkable comedy background. Yet many aren’t aware of his huge love for the automobile. For years, Adam has used his ample comedic talents to fund his automotive bliss and has amassed a large collection of cars. Although, it’s talking about Newman’s life and driving Newman’s own race cars that really excites him and that’s why he made this film.
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman is the story of a man that falls completely in love with racing and then struggles between the two passions within his own soul. Does he stay in acting or does he fully commit to the irresistible tug of racing?
One scene in the film is especially poignant to that struggle when Robert Wagner is talking about Newman and his first interaction with a racing car on the set of their movie, Winning. Wagner, after a few laps, is ready to call it quits. But Newman just sat there in the cockpit of the vehicle and seemed to be transfixed on the steering wheel. Wagner said that when he came up to Paul, his eyes were different. As if he was a changed man. And indeed from that day on, he was.
Newman went on to compete in and win multiple SCCA championships, competed in IMSA, and raced at Le Mans where he and his team won their class and achieved a staggering second overall in 1979. All of which is frankly amazing, due to the fact he never took time off from acting to enjoy his passion. He wasn’t just an actor that wanted to play racer, though. Even though many drivers mistook him to be just that. Newman was as good as any of the pro drivers he raced, and that’s what he really wanted to be known for: racing.
For quite some time, Carolla had been trying to get this documentary off the ground. Pushed on by the successes of both Senna and One, and believing that the star power of Paul Newman himself would help the film along, Carolla had high hopes a studio would pick it up. In the end though, no one wanted the project. Unwilling to allow Newman’s fantastic story to die, Carolla set on financing and directing the film himself. This, by a stroke of genius, is what sets this film off.
This film not only highlights Newman’s racing life expertly, but it allows us enthusiasts to look introspectively. Many of us have similar circumstances as Paul Newman did. We have day jobs to fund our passion— his was just on a grander scale. However, Carolla’s fandom makes this documentary shine brilliantly.
Without that childish joy, that devotion he feels towards Newman, this wouldn’t be the wonderfully crafted documentary it is. Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman is by far one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in quite some time. And while I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I urge you to go see it.
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman will be released in theaters and video on demand April 22.
Photo Credit: Associated Press