This is one of Paul Newman’s early open-faced racing Bell helmets, it has been hand-painted with his initials on either side, as well as an unusual trifecta of cartoon animals – a rooster, a chipmunk, and a coyote.
The helmet is now being offered for sale along with a trove of other personal items from his life, including racing trophies, championship rings, pictures, model cars, steering wheels, helmets, and other personal items.
Newman discovered his love and talent for motoring almost by accident, he had been enrolled at the Watkins Glen Racing School in order to prepare for the filming of Winning, a 1969 film in which he was the star. At the school he quickly fell in love with the sport and he showed no shortage of natural ability.
He raced in a number of amateur events, his first taste of professional competition occurred in 1972 at Thompson International Speedway, he discretely entered as “P. L. Newman” and would continue to race by this name throughout his career.
Over the course of his racing career he would frequently race in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events, he won four national championships. In 1979 he raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished in second place driving one of Dick Barbour’s Porsche 935s.
He continued to take wins in both professional and amateur racing, culminating in a class win at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona when he was 70 years old – he’s still the oldest driver to be part of a winning team in a sanctioned race in the United States.
Above Video: This is the theatrical trailer for the 2015 film “Winning” about the life and racing achievements of Paul Newman. It stars Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Dick Barbour, Bob Bondurant, Tom Cruise, Patrick Dempsey, and many others.
The helmet you see here dates back to the very early days of Newman’s career. There’s no explanation as to why there is a series of three hand-painted cartoon animals on the helmet, they look like a plucked rooster, a hungry coyote, and a chipmunk – though it was likely an in-joke at the time.
This helmet is currently being offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s in an online auction, if you’d like to read more about it or place a bid you can visit the listing here.
Above Video: In 2005 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Paul Newman raced Leno in go karts around the Tonight Show studio.
Images: ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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