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Atlanta’s pro racer turned winemaker

This photo from myformula5000.com shows Randy Lewis racing in 1975.

This photo from myformula5000.com shows Randy Lewis racing in 1975.

After a career in professional racing, Randy Lewis did what any driver would do after exiting the track for the last time.

He became a winemaker.

”When I turned pro I went to Europe to start my professional career,” he told Buzz during an interview Monday afternoon. “I stopped in little wine towns in between races and just fell in love.”

An Atlanta native now based in Napa, Calif., where Lewis Cellars is located, he’ll be home for the March 20 Allure preview party for benefactors of the High Museum’s 2010 Wine Auction event, held from March 25-27.

For details including a full schedule see www.atlanta-wineauction.org.

The March 20 Allure party for benefactors of the High's annual Wine Auction features wines by professional racer turned vintner Randy Lewis. The party is co-chaired by Michelle Sullivan and Sacha Taylor and sponsored by Wilmington Trust. The auction is co-chaired by Michelle Edwards Crosland and Christine Ragland. From left, Wilmington Trust managing director Todd Tautfest, left, and Southeastern regional president Jack Sawyer with Sullivan, Crosland, Ragland and Taylor.

The March 20 Allure party for benefactors of the High's annual Wine Auction features wines by professional racer turned vintner Randy Lewis. The party is co-chaired by Michelle Sullivan and Sacha Taylor and sponsored by Wilmington Trust. The auction is co-chaired by Michelle Edwards Crosland and Christine Ragland. From left, Wilmington Trust managing director Todd Tautfest, left, and Southeastern regional president Jack Sawyer with Sullivan, Crosland, Ragland and Taylor. Photo by Jim Fitts

The party, co-chaired by Sacha Taylor and Michelle Sullivan and sponsored by Wilmington Trust, cleverly coincides with the High’s “Allure of the Automobile” exhibit, featuring vintage beauties by Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and others.

For Lewis, a Westminster graduate with family still in town, partnering with the High event was a natural. And he says his transformation from racer to vintner illustrates the diversity of wine aficionados.

“You think of NASCAR as maybe more of a beer-drinking crowd,” said Lewis, whose career included stints with Formula Three, Formula 5000, Can-Am and IndyCar racing. “I don’t know if that’s true or not. Atlanta’s a big wine town for us.”

Champagne, champagne everywhere and not a drop to drink. Tragic.

Champagne, champagne everywhere and not a drop to drink. Tragic.

Before we let him go, we just had to ask one final, pressing question.

As a racing man but also as a winemaker, does it trouble him when winning drivers spray champagne all over the place after the checkered flag?

”No,” he said with a laugh, evidently not as heartbroken as Buzz at the thought of wasted bubbly. “It’s still good publicity, even though it’s a shame.”

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