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Historics - Newman's Last Racecar Up For Auction

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By Jonathan Welsh - Wall Street Journal

New York, Mar. 10, 2012: A lot of movie stars have gotten into racing cars in their spare time, but few, if any, were as good at it as Paul Newman.

The actor began racing in the early 1970s, not long after starring as an Indianapolis 500 driver in the 1969 film “Winning.” He continued to take to the track until shortly before his death in 2008. In between he amassed a long list of wins and impressive finishes in sports car racing including second place in the classic 24-Hour race at Le Mans, France in 1979.

Now RM Auctions, a company specializing in collectible cars, will offer Newman’s last race car, a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, this Saturday at its Amelia Island, Fla., sale.

The car, which began life as a Trans Am racer, was piloted to three wins, eight top-five finishes and five poles by racing great Butch Leitzinger during the 2002 season. It has a 346-cubic inch V8 engine under the hood that puts out 700 horesepower.

Newman and his business and racing partner Michael Brockman acquired the car the following year, painted it in Newman’s longtime signature red, white and blue livery and ran it in the Sports Car Club of America series. Newman continued to race competitively, at or near the front of the grid, from 2003 through 2007. He won his last race at Lime Rock, Conn., just about a year before he died.

The auction house estimates the car will fetch between $250,000 and $350,000. However, its connection to Newman could push bids considerably higher.