Paul Newman Flipped off Tom Cruise on the Circuit
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Of course, we're only interested in the automotive aspect of that relationship, but let's take the time to do a little background painting anyway. The two first met on the set of the movie “Harry & Son”, which Newman was directing. At the moment, Tom was fast becoming hot property in Hollywood, having just made “All the Right Moves”, but that didn't mean he got the part.
The two would work together for the first time after Cruise's big 80s hit “Top Gun”, on the hustling “The Color of Money”. It was here that Tom realized that, for all his accomplishments, Paul was a modest, down-to-earth guy with a great sense of humor and a great lust for life.
They remained friends, and eventually Paul's love for the racetrack rubbed off on the young Tom Cruise. Tom would end up running for Newman's team. He even recalls the last time they were together on the track: “We were trying out different cars at Willow Springs Raceway in California. Per usual, I thought I had him beat … but suddenly he comes around the corner. His car is next to mine. Then he flips me off and blisters past. You’ve gotta love it. It was pure Newman”.
Of course, these days Tom isn't that much into driving anymore, he would much rather be an “authority of the mind” as he so eloquently put it in a Scientological recruiting video a while back. Still, the influence was there, proof that once you get the racing bug, you can never get cured. One more reason to miss the great Paul Newman.
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