Ben Pon

Ben Pon

9/12/1936

Pon was a successful Porsche sports car racer. His F1 chance came in 1962 driving a works Porsche 787 in the Dutch Grand Prix. He crashed and vowed never to race single seaters again. Raced on in sports cars until 1969. Now owns and runs the Bernardus Winery in Carmel, California.

Ben Pon was born in Leiden in the west of Holland and grew up in Amersfoort, near Utrecht. From a wealthy background, his father was a car dealer and was resposible for introducing the Volkswagen Beetle into the United States in 1949. He is considered to be the "father" of the Type II due to his initial interest and input into the project.

Pon became a highly successful Porsche sports car racer. In 1961 he raced a  a Porsche-Abarth 356B Carrera in three rounds of the FIA GT Cup. He went on to take numerous class wins with Count Carel Godin de Beaufort including Le Mans.

He continued to race the 356 in 1962 in championship and non-championship events. His F1 chance came in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on May 20, that year. He drove a works-loaned four-cylinder Porsche 787, running under Carel de Beaufort's Ecurie Maarsbergen banner. He spun off on oil early in the race and was thrown out of the car, fortunately emerging without injury. Pon vowed never to race a single seater again and thereafter raced sports and GT Porsches under the Racing Team Holland banner. He won races in his 904GT at Limbourg, Solitude and Zandvoort, and was third and a class winner in the 1965 Spa 1000 Km in a 914GTS.

Pon gradually raced less and less from 1965 onwards and became involved in running the Dutch Racing Team. He finally retired from professional sports car racing at the end of 1968. Later, he represented the Netherlands in clay pigeon shooting at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Since his retirement in the sports arena, Pon has turned his attention to the wine trade. He is now known for his Bernardus Winery in Carmel, California. He also owns and runs the family business, the oldest wine negotiating business in the Netherlands.

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