Ben Pon (or Bernardus Marinus Pon) was a former Dutch racing driver who was active between 1960 and 1968. He recorded just one start in the Formula 1 Grand Prix race but his main discipline was the sports car racing. He participated six times at Le Mans 24 Hours, scoring two class victories.
After he retired from racing, Ben Pon participated at 1972 Summer Olympics in clay pigeon shooting. He's one of the rare sportsmen to participate both in Formula 1 and Olympic Games.
Bernardus Marinus Pon or Ben Pon
Starting a racing career in the US
Bernardus Marinus Pon was born on December 9, 1936, in Amersfoort, Netherlands. His father Ben Pon Sr. was a businessman and the first dealer of Volkswagen cars outside Germany, including the United States. Ben Pon Jr started his career in the US, participating in sports car races with Porsche 356.
Class victory in Le Mans 24h debut in 1961
Ben Pon was a personal friend of Formula One driver Carel Godin de Beaufort and they participated together in some European sports car races in 1961 before Ben Pon made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours in June 1961.
In his first attempt at Circuit de la Sarthe, Ben Pon immediately scored outstanding result, finishing 10th overall and first in the GT 1.6 class. His co-driver in the #36 Porsche 356B Carrera Abarth GTL was Herbert Linge.
Ben Pon's #15 Porsche 787 at 1962 Dutch Grand Prix
Dangerous crash in only Formula 1 attempt
In 1962, Ben Pon continued to race with Porsche in sports car races but also made a debut in the Formula One World Championship. In May, he was driving the #15 Porsche 787 for Carel Godin de Beaufort's Ecurie Maarsbergen in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
He started 18th on the grid and stayed on track for just two laps. In the third lap, he flipped his car over and dropped out of the cockpit. Ben Pon, fortunately, survived an accident but decided to race single-seaters never again.
Collecting sports car wins with Porsche
In June 1962, Ben Pon returned to Le Mans with Porsche 356B Carrera Abarth GTL, sharing a car with Carel Godin de Beaufort. They retired after 35 laps. Later that year, Ben Pon won the World Cup race at Zandvoort in the same car.
In June 1963, Ben Pon recorded one more DNF at Le Mans, sharing the #30 Porsche 356B Carrera with Heinz Schiller. In July 1963, Pon was a winner of Coupes Benelux race at Zandvoort. In August, he added a win at Zolder Grand Prix.
Ben Pon (left) next to his Porsche 904 GTS
Class win at 1964 Sebring 12 Hours
In March 1964, Pon made a debut at Sebring 12 Hours, driving a Porsche 356B Carrera 2000. Sharing a car with Joe Buzzetta, he finished 11th overall and the first in the GT2.0 class. Two months later, on scored one more class victory at Nurburgring 1000km race, together with Gerhard Koch.
At 1964 Le Mans race, Ben Pon was driving the #33 Porsche 904 GTS for Racing Team Holland, sharing a car with Henk van Zalinge. They finished 8th overall and the second in the GT2.0 class. Later in the season, driving the same car, Pon was a winner both in the Zolder Grand Prix and Zandvoort Trophy.
Ben Pon and Vic Elford were driving the #37 Porsche 906K at 1967 Le Mans
One more class victory at Le Mans in 1967
Ben Pen returned to Le Mans with Porsche 904 GTS in 1965, sharing a car with Robert Buchet and retiring after 224 laps. Ben Pons recorded his last attempt at Le Mans two years later, in June 1967, driving the #37 Porsche 906K Carrera. Sharing a car with Vic Elford, he finished 7th overall and the winner of the S2.0 class.
In his last years of racing, Ben Pon scored many more overall wins or class wins with different Porsches, not only in Dutch and German national events but also in the World Championship races. He retired from racing at the end of 1968.
Ben Pon (left) and Rob Slotemaker
Participating in 1972 Summer Olympics
In 1972, Ben Pon became one of the rare sportsmen to have F1 and Olympic participations in his CV. He represented Netherlands in clay pigeon shooting at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Following his sporting career, Ben Pon concentrated on a business career, becoming one of the world's most known wine traders.