Paul Newman and Tom Cruise Spend a So-So Day at the Races, but Fans Lap It Up Anyway
updated 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Truth be told, even fans willing to part with a buck fifty would have had a hard time spotting the pair. Both spent much of their time out of sight with their crews and cars. Cruise, 25, who vowed a year ago that he "wouldn't spend my life hiding from paparazzi," seemed particularly photosensitive. Perhaps it was nerves. Newman, 62, a veteran racer and Cruise's co-star in The Color of Money, introduced the young actor to his favorite sport last year. Cruise had taken racing lessons and practiced with car clubs since then, but the Road Atlanta series marked his debut as a professional driver.
Piloting a red, white and blue Nissan 300ZX turbo, Newman finished seventh of 44 entries in the feature event, the 300 kilometer Road Atlanta Kuppen-heimer Camel GT Challenge. He took home $4000 and the satisfaction of watching his protégé make a gallant first effort at becoming a top gun in a risky business. While practicing, Cruise bounced his car off a railing, forcing him to borrow another Nissan 300ZX from a driving school to compete in his event, a three-hour endurance race that also drew 44 competitors. The neophyte Andretti fishtailed twice—once forcing another car off the track—and spun out completely on one turn. Yet he managed, with teammate Rick Hendrick, who drove half the race, to place 14th. "Smooth as silk," he announced after his maiden effort. "I drive faster going to work," kidded a fellow racer. "But he's just a baby driver. He'll get better."
No doubt. Just as soon as he develops a little more Cruise control.