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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

The Newman Code

Athens, NY—Have you read this 5/24/06 USA TODAY piece about Paul Newman by A.J. Perez? If so, you may have been distracted not only by praiseful fluff about the octogenarian’s acting and racing careers but by the author’s explanation, to a generic readership, of Newman’s undying loyalty to the Champ Car World Series above all other forms of motor sport.

Such a distraction might have caused you to miss the bombshell revelation found in the article’s most telling quote. Perez leads into this quote by stating that Newman sees the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a hindrance to open-wheel racing unity…

"Listen, I'm just like Fox News. I'm fair and balanced," [Paul Newman] says, playfully mocking Rupert Murdoch's cable network. "But for this merger to occur, Tony must first think about what is fair and realistic. He can't load the gun, point it at us and expect us to make a deal. I know what the offer was, and it was neither fair, nor balanced."

You don’t need a secret decoding device for this one fans. It’s right there in the quote!

Newman reveals, albeit in the absence of a spin doctor’s note, that the ballyhooed recent talks have been about “merger” as opposed to some other amicable contractual resolution. Furthermore, he implies that the only merger offer made to date has come from the other side of the table.

While the media’s urban legend says that the Champ Car principal and his f-inheritor counterpart made friends during the off season at a trendy ski resort wherein they pledged to have at least one business meeting some time in the future, it sure sounds like the so-called “re-unification talks” were initiated by the Speedway owner according to the candid comments of Paul Newman.

Chalk it up to a geriatric slip of the lip, to Newman’s well-documented disdain for the splitter of our beloved speed sport, or to a subconscious wish for the truth to be known, but the Champ Car team owner has absolutely nothing to gain or lose by telling it like it is. And the old guy certainly comes across as being cogent and coherent throughout Perez’ story.

Sure, “we report—you decide” might be a more appropriate Fox phrase than “fair and balanced” for Newman’s Own comments about things Indy, but at this point PLN’s credibility rates higher than either of the skiers’ and/or their PR henchmen.

Forgive me for being repetitive since the “merger” story was leaked to the press back in February, but it has become more and more obvious that my initial analysis will be proven more or less true; that the splitter has, in his self-aggrandizement, choreographed a dance that has not only created free Indy 500 media hype but might also absolve him of any future blame once the dust clears and there is no sign of re-unification in sight.

From another interesting USA TODAY story excerpt:

Newman hasn't attended the Indy 500 since 1995, even though his team has been in it twice. With a smirk and his signature, gravelly deadpan, Newman explains, "I have a problem with the management."

You may not care for Paul Newman’s acting, politics, or causes but you’ve gotta respect him as a fellow Champ Car fan. Just the same, I can’t help but wonder if he’s got a contingency plan in mind should the unthinkable ever actually happen.

Road Rage! An op-ed feature by Ed Donath.

Copyright © 2006 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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