Every time I throw something out it seems to come back and haunt me.
I will put money on the fact that I'll toss a clipping of something I wrote, weeks or years ago, and sometime in the future I will wish I hadn't.
Usually, it's long gone - except this time.
When Paul Newman died Sept. 26, I remembered writing about a few of his appearances at Brainerd International Raceway in the 1980s but didn't think much about it.
Newman, a reluctant and distant celebrity most times he was at BIR, was in town for a Trans-Am race in August 1982. Other than the fact he might actually have been shy I can't blame him for his reluctance. Everyone wanted a piece of him - fans, media, sponsors. I can't fault anyone for wanting to stay out of the limelight under those circumstances.
Actor Paul Newman laughed in the pits at Brainerd International Raceway in 1982. Newman, a frequent driver at BIR in the 1980s, died Sept. 26. Brainerd Dispatch/File photo » Purchase reprints of this photo.
As a result it was a big deal when he was, in all likelihood, talked into conducting a news conference at BIR for the first time. I was one of a few dozen or so media types and hangers-on in attendance the day Newman decided to meet the press, even if it was for about 10 minutes.
The clip of that news conference was buried in a folder in a file drawer at home. When I stumbled onto it the headline said, "Newman breaks silence at BIR."
It was Aug. 5, 1982, and wasn't much of a media event. He didn't say anything interesting, but he was " Blue Eyes" and his avocation happened to be auto racing.
Usual , the only sightings of Newman at BIR were while driving a motor scooter, wearing shades and that distinctive gray hair barely bristling in the wind.
He stepped out of a motor home about noon that day, which made me restless because the Dispatch's presses in the 1980s were supposed to roll about 1 p.m. He was hesitant to take part in the news conference, saying "I don't know how to do this," as he stepped out of the vehicle.
I thought that was a bit of an understatement, coming from a guy I considered a macho stud in movies like "The Sting," and "Cool Hand Luke," and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Someone asked Newman why talking to the media was so difficult for him.
"This is the first year I've done any interviews at all," he said. "I do it for the tracks. The tracks need all the help they can get. Otherwise, I don't think (interviews) are necessary. If I do this 300 days a year I should be able to get weekends off.
"I like the kind of racing where there are no spectators. I know that seems like a rather sour thing to say."
The media was instructed not to ask questions about Newman's acting career, but of course the subject inevitably was brought up.
"Joanne (Woodward, his wife) has an interesting theory that some of my racing has led back to my acting," he said.
I believe it was that weekend that he scored his first professional victory in a rainy SCCA Trans-Am race at BIR.
When he arrived in the media center at BIR for the winner's interview, a bottle of champagne in hand and a huge smile on his face, he found just two writers, not me, waiting for him.
"Where is everybody?" I guess I'll have to win something a little bigger than this to get any attention," the Associated Press quoted Newman as saying after the victory.
There were a few more questions at his news conference and they yielded nothing earth-shattering. Then I sprinted to my 1982 Datsun and raced about 10 miles back to the Dispatch with about 20 minutes to write some semblance of a story.
I made my deadline that day. Most importantly, I saved the clipping, which means a lot 26 years later.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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