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Ben Pon

Full Name:
Bernardus Marinus Pon jr
9th December 1936
Leiden, Zuid-Holland
30th September 2019 (Aged 82)
Nijkerk, Gelderland
Most recent race (in database):

The seven or so years that Ben Pon spent racing cars are but a small part of his story. He would later represent his country in the Olympics and develop a successful wine business in California and in Holland.

Family background and early racing career

His father ran Pon’s Automobielhandel – the first car dealership outside Germany to sell Volkswagen Beetles. That was in 1947 and Ben Pon Sr was selling the car in America as well within two years. He also became Porsche’s Dutch importer and when his son began racing, it was with that marque.

Ben Pon Jr acquired a Porsche 356B Abarth and entered the 1961 Nürburgring 1000Kms with friend and compatriot Count Carel Godin de Beaufort. They retired but Pon was invited to share Herbert Linge’s works car in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours – finishing 10th overall and winning the 1600cc GT class.

One-time Grand Prix driver

Thus far Pon had concentrated on sports cars and saloons but he made his GP debut in the 1962 Dutch GP at Zandvoort with de Beaufort’s Ecurie Maarsbergen. Pon’s race ended after just two laps when he rolled his Porsche 787 at Schleivak and was thrown out. Although unhurt, he vowed never to race a single-seater again.

He continued to race Porsches in sports cars and the European Touring Car Championship until 1968 – both for the works team and as a privateer. Twice on the podium in the World Sportscar Championship with a 904 GTS (third in the 1964 Nürburgring 1000Kms and again at Spa-Francorchamps a year later), he won an ETCC round in 1967. Pon also made his final start at Le Mans that year with Vic Elford and a Porsche 906/6 Carrera – winning the 2000cc prototype class by finishing seventh overall. He crashed into a tree at Hawthorn's when the steering arm on his Porsche 910 broke during the 1968 Brands Hatch Six Hours.

Life after motor racing

Having retired from motor racing at the end of the season, Pon concentrated on skeet shooting and he was in the Dutch team for the 1972 Munich Olympics. He also developed his business interests in wine. With a passion for fine reds and an ambition to establish a vintage that rivalled a classic Bordeaux, Pon established the Bernardus Winery and Lodge in Carmel, California and later ran a distribution company in Amersfoort.

Pon divided his time between his American vineyards with homes in Holland and England’s West Country in later life. A grandstand at Zandvoort was named after him in 2019, shortly before his death at the age of 82.