Skip P 1979 Datsun 280ZX 2dr Coupe

Paul Newman's Champion 1979 Datsun 280ZX Restoration by Skip

This story starts in the 70's with the U.S. Navy F-14 Fighter having problems stopping on the carriers. The brake fluid they were using on carrier fighters absorbed water and the pilots were complaining about stopping. The Navy called Grumman who called Dow and GM began testing a new 50 series silicon brake fluid. At that period of time in the 70's GM was not involved in auto racing. Greenwood Corvette was the back door for Chevy road racing. I was racing an Greenwood A Production Corvette in Trans Am, IMSA and also a Greenwood parts dealer. I got only a gallon of this new brake fluid and was told not to talk about it by a GM executive and their was no more.

Paul Newman owned his own race team and was driving a Datsun B Sedan and he owned a Group 44 Triumph TR-6 in D Production. I held the track record at Lime Rock in A Production. While testing on a Tuesday at Lime Rock Race Track Paul Newman and his crew chief Shawn Smith came over to my race car. Paul asked me, "how the hell do you stop this monster at this place?". He told me that he wanted to go to Champion Sparkplug Road Racing Classic for the National Championship and his Triumph TR-6 was not stopping. I told him their were some secrets to my braking system and the most important was getting another gallon of fluid of which there was no more.

Butch Cassidy aka Paul Newman looked at me with those blue eyes and asked "Skip can you help me?" Who could say no to the Sundance Kid's partner. I called a GM executive and after hearing 15 seconds of him cursing at me, I said it was for Paul Newman. He stated " I will call you back."

Three hours later I got a call and was told if the brake fluid could be personally delivered to Paul, it was a green light. I called Paul, then I told Shawn what tricks to do to the brakes and Newman became D Production Champion in 1976. The following years of racing I had a lot of laughs with Paul. We raced in 1977 at 24 Hrs of Daytona. Lunch with Paul at Burger King with my family still makes me laugh today. Butch Cassidy and my daughter Allison arguing over his billing, on her t-shirt. Then their is the run-in Newman and I had with the Georgia State Police and many more. Paul asking me to help his team mate Terry Knight at Road Atlanta, junk one new Z on Terry's last lap.

In 1979 Paul won his second Championship in C Production, driving a 1979 Datsun 280ZX.

I bought Paul's Champion 1979 280ZX from the second owner and I am having it restored in a shop by Lime Rock. Facebook........... Paul Newmanskip

2014 Datsun Dealerships Are Back!

I am told, I own the most iconic Datsun Champion driven by Paul Newman. To me, it is a piece of art.

I am asked when will it race in Vintage. That will be the decision of the new owner, never by me.

2 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Chris USA February 15, 2014 at 14:19
    Great story. Awesome car. I met Paul and got to visit with him quite a bit at Road Atlanta over the years. Strip him of all his fame and he was still the coolest guy at the track.
  • 2
    Skip New York February 18, 2014 at 19:24
    To start racing at in his late 40's its hard to believe how he was so completive . To bad Adam Corolla isn't starting Paul Newman's video racing career with his first National Championship. Skip

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