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Celebrities and racing

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2003


DAVID LETTERMAN

CLAIM TO FAME: Host of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS.

CART CONNECTION: Grew up in Indianapolis watching the legends of the 500. Interviewed Mario Andretti in 1971 as a corner reporter for ABC. Later struck up a friendship with Bobby Rahal after his 1986 Indy victory. In 1996, became a minority owner of the team owned by Rahal, which fields a car for driver Michel Jourdain Jr.

CAR TALK: "Having grown up in Indianapolis and been in love with racing and its heroes for as long as I can remember, it's literally a dream come true for me to become this much a part of a sport that has meant so much to me."

LIKELIHOOD HE'LL BE HERE: Unsure. His production company said he didn't plan to attend, but he has family in St. Petersburg and sometimes makes late plans.

PAUL NEWMAN

CLAIM TO FAME: The Academy Award winning actor starred in many films, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, The Color of Money, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting.

CART CONNECTION: Took an interest in auto racing while filming the 1968 film Winning, in which he played the role of an Indy car driver. Began racing competitively in 1972 and still competes in endurance races. Has co-owned the Newman-Haas team in CART since 1983, currently fielding cars for Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais.

CAR TALK: "I have no physical grace. ... I was a bad skier. I was a bad tennis player. The only sport I ever found any grace in was automobile racing."

LIKELIHOOD HE'LL BE HERE: Pretty good. Newman attends many CART races.

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