Paul Newman’s Photographer Recalls the Hollywood Star’s Passion for Racing

by Samantha Whidden

Nearly 14 years after Paul Newman passed away at the age of 83, the late actor’s photographer looks back at his well-known passion for racing. 

While speaking to Fox News Digital, Al Satterwhite, who captured some of the actor’s most iconic snapshots, spoke about Paul Newman’s interest in racing. “When he’s driving, he’s not a movie star,” the photographer explained. “He’s a racing driver. He is basically around racing people who like racing. And that’s what he wanted to be considered as. Now, he had this racing persona on, and he didn’t want anything to do with his star persona. So we got along great.”

Satterwhite also stated that Paul Newman was a very easy guy to work with. “He’s very focused on what he wants in racing and driving,” the photographer explained. “That’s what you want [in a photo]. The problem arose when shortly after we got there and made our introductions.”

Satterwhite recalled one time, networks had shown up uninvited and wanted to film Paul Newman’s racing. “So Paul spent the next few hours in his trailer talking to his attorneys in New York because he wanted to race. He didn’t want to be on camera. I was there to shoot still photos, which is much different than shooting motion pictures.”

Fox News also reports that while Paul Newman dreamed of being a great athlete, he never found a sport in which he could excel. Racing became a game changer for the actor. “I was never a very graceful person,” Newman once shared. “The only time I ever really feel coordinated is when I dance with [my wife] Joanne [Woodward]. And that’s not my doing. But when I’m behind the wheel of a race car, I feel competent and in charge. It’s something I really enjoy.”

Photographer Calls Paul Newman a ‘Regular Kind of Guy’ 

As he continued to speak to Fox News Digital, Satterwhite spoke about Paul Newman’s personality away from film sets. “The thing about Paul that you first notice is that he’s basically a regular kind of guy,” the photographer explained. “He’s not in a movie star mode. He’s just normal.”

Satterwhite also stated that Paul Newman was so “regular” that anyone can talk to him about whatever they wanted to confer about. “And it’s kind of a back and forth thing… He’s just another human being. He was very passionate for racing.”

The photographer went on to share that Paul Newman took racing very seriously. “[He] went by P.L. Newman because he wanted people to focus on his skills; not his movie star persona… When he was at the track, that’s all he wanted to do.” 

Paul Newman also notably “light up” when it came to discussing racing. “I don’t like talking about acting because that’s business and pretty boring. And politics can get you in trouble. But I’ll always talk bout racing because the people are interesting and fun.”