Adam Corolla holds the Guinness Book of Records title for “most downloaded podcast,” is the author of two books and a filmmaker whose most recent movie is a documentary called Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman.
Just don’t call it a documentary.
“I wanted to make this documentary feel like a movie and not a documentary,” he says. “Sometimes documentaries feel like homework. I think if you strike the balance correctly you can entertain and learn.”
Most of Newman’s fans found out about him through iconic movies like Cool Hand Luke, The Sting or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Not Corolla. He discovered Newman by buying and restoring the actor’s race cars.
“I always respected and appreciated him but I was never a big Paul Newman fan,” he says. “I knew his movies were some of the best movies but [I didn’t like him] any more than any other celebrity whose movies I’ve enjoyed. Tom Hanks didn’t race cars and I race cars but I don’t have six of Tom Hanks’s race cars so I figured I’d keep it to something I know. I have Paul’s cars which is what propelled me towards Paul Newman.“
The film paints a picture of a deeply private man who loved pranks, cars and cherished the outlet that racing gave him as a pressure valve release from the day-to-day of being one of the most famous men on the planet. It focuses on his passion for racing but this isn’t a film for gearheads only. Racing is treated as a portal into the actor’s personality, an entrance into what really made him tick. By zeroing in on one of his passions Winning gives us a broader look at what made the man tick.
“I don’t think he had a half assed way of doing anything,” says Corolla. “There’s a part in the Newman movie where he says, ‘I guess if I don’t want to do it anymore, all I have to do it stop.’ I always think about those words. All Paul Newman had to do was stop at any point. He didn’t need to do any of it. The salad dressing, the popcorn, the racing. He didn’t need the money. When Paul Newman sixty-five years old he could have just stopped, and he always knew, ‘If I want to stop I could just stop but until then, I’m busy.’”
NEED FOR SPEED: CELEBRITY RACERS
Screen legends Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Gene Hackman all had the need for speed that would have allowed them to turn pro, but they aren’t the only serious race car contenders.
Patrick Dempsey recently came in second at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours in France and Furious 7 star Paul Walker competed in several top level amateur races.
When he isn’t playing Mr. Bean Rowan Atkinson is a car enthusiast, racing (and crashing) a McLaren F1 while Star Trek actor Eric Bana has been driving competitively since 1996. Jason Priestley began open wheel driving in 2002 and is co-owner of the FAZZT Race Team.
Less successful than his fellow actors—on the track, anyway—was racing wannabe Tom Cruise. Driving opposite Newman at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition in the late 1980s, Cruise fishtailed twice and spun out completely on a turn. As far as Cruise was concerned the SCCA was nicknamed See Cruise Crash Again, with one of the drivers joking, “I drive faster going to work.”