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John Paul Sr. (racing driver)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Lee Paul Sr.
BornHans-Johan Paul
(1939-03-12) March 12, 1939 (age 81) (if still alive, disappeared in 2001)
Championships1980 World Challenge for Endurance Drivers Champion
1979 Trans-Am Cat.2 Champion

John Lee Paul (born Hans-Johan Paul[needs Dutch IPA], March 12, 1939) is an American racing driver, convicted felon and fugitive. After his racing career, which saw him win both U.S. classic endurance races, 24 hours at Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring, he served a 15-year prison sentence for a variety of crimes including drug trafficking and shooting a Federal witness. In 2001 he disappeared on his boat while being sought for questioning by officials regarding the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. As of 2020, Paul's status is unknown. He is sometimes known in the motorsport scene as John Paul Sr. or John Paul.

Before racing

Paul emigrated to the United States from The Netherlands in 1956 with his family, settling in Muncie, Indiana and legally changing his name to John Lee Paul.[1] He attended Ball State University and then received a scholarship to Harvard University, where he received a master's degree in business.[2] He became a successful mutual fund manager, and a millionaire.[1] In 1960, his wife Joyce gave birth to a son, John Jr., who went on to become a successful driver on his father's team, but also served prison time for joining in some of his father's numerous criminal activities.[3][4]

Racing career

Paul started club-level sportscar road racing in the late 1960s, winning the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Northeast Regional Championship in 1968.[1] When his wife and son left him in 1972, Paul left racing for a while, living on a sailboat he had purchased. He resumed racing in 1975 – now with his son, who had chosen to return to him, as a part-time member of his crew. He appeared at 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans for the Dick Barbour Racing team, taking a class win in IMSA GTX class – partnered by fellow American, Dick Barbour, and English driver, Brian Redman – in his first attempt at the French classic.[5] This followed his class win in the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier that season.[6]

In 1979, Paul won the Trans-Am Series race at Mosport by a margin of 33 seconds.[7] He would win a total of six races, en route to winning the Trans-Am title. He had already won the World Challenge for Endurance Drivers title the season before.[8] In 1980, Paul began teaming with his son, and on May 26 Paul remarried to Chalice Alford,[9] holding the ceremony on the infield at Lime Rock Park.[10] Later in the day he teamed with his son to win the day's race, the Coca-Cola 400, making them the first father-son duo to win an IMSA Camel GT race. It was the first IMSA GT race Paul Jr. had ever entered.[10][11]

Father and son paired up again to win the Road America Pabst 500.[12][13] Paul Sr. finished second in the IMSA GT series. In 1980 he won the World Challenge for Endurance Drivers by just four points over British driver John Fitzpatrick. He competed mainly in his specially modified Porsche 935s prepared by his own team, JLP Racing, operating out of Lawrenceville, Georgia.[11]

In 1982, Paul Sr., teamed up with his son to win the 12 Hours of Sebring and, with third driver Rolf Stommelen, the 24 Hours of Daytona, running a race record (as of 2016) 2,760.960 mi (4,443.334 km). Together, the Pauls won three races. As a solo driver, Junior won another four, all in JLP Racing-prepared Porsche or Lola-Chevrolet T600. 1982 would be Paul Sr.'s last year as a driver. Lack of a major sponsor, even with the team's success, meant expenses overcame his earnings.[2]

Criminal activity

Drug possession

The Pauls had their first legal troubles when on January 10, 1979, Paul Jr. and Christopher Schill were caught by customs agents loading equipment onto a pickup truck on the bank of a canal in the Louisiana bayous after dark. Following questioning, when one of them smelled marijuana on their clothing, Paul Sr. was apprehended on his 42-foot boat named Lady Royale, where customs discovered marijuana residue and $10,000 on board. A rented truck was discovered nearby, which contained 1,565 pounds (710 kg) of marijuana. In court, all three pleaded guilty to marijuana possession charges, where each was placed on three years' probation and fined $32,500.[14]

Shooting of witness

On April 19, 1983, an individual named Stephen Carson was shot in the chest, abdomen and leg in Crescent Beach, Florida.[15] Carson had been given immunity in a drug trafficking case. He testified that Paul Sr. had approached him, ordered him into the trunk of his car, and shot at him five times when he fled rather than comply. Paul then fled when a companion of Carson's began shouting.[2] Paul was arrested, but while out on bail fled before his trial.[2][16] Paul was apprehended by Swiss authorities in January 1985, served a six-month sentence in Switzerland for using a false passport, and was extradited back to the United States in March 1986.[17] At the same time, Paul Jr. plead guilty to racketeering and received a five-year sentence. He'd refused to testify against his father,[4] who had been indicted as the ringleader of a drug trafficking ring that also included his father, Lee. On June 4, 1986, Paul Sr. plead guilty to attempted first-degree murder and received a sentence of twenty years, later expanded to twenty-five years after additional sentences were added.

Attempted escape

On March 10, 1987, Paul and another inmate unsuccessfully attempted to escape from prison by spraying a mixture of hot sauce and Pine Sol in a guards face then scaling a 12-foot fence. The guard recovered and fired two shots, scaring the inmates into surrendering. There was a stolen pickup truck in the parking lot that authorities suspect was for the two inmates.[18] Paul served his sentence in USP Leavenworth.[19][20][21] Paul was paroled on July 2, 1999.[22]

Disappearance of girlfriend

Shortly following release from prison in 1999, Paul met an office manager named Colleen Wood. She would shortly leave her job, sell her condominium and move in with Paul on his 55-foot schooner to embark on a planned five-year around-the-world boating trip.[23] In December the following year, Wood disappeared, never to be heard from again.[24] Police questioned Paul in connection with the disappearance, but no charges were filed. Paul later disappeared himself, likely in violation of his parole.


Paul Sr.'s "tantrums" made those in the vicinity fear for their safety. As one IMSA official put it, "Senior is the most terrifying man I have ever met. Temper tantrums and wild outbursts are pretty commonplace in racing, but Senior's extend way beyond that. He is more than frightening. He is scary." He once stormed into his racing offices and threw a full briefcase across the room like a Frisbee. "If it had hit a secretary, it would have taken her head off," reported a witness. "And I know he never looked before he threw. He could have killed someone."[15]

Racing promoter Steve Earwood remembered a event between father and son at a Camel GT race in 1982. "The kid had just won the pole and we had him on a radio show and everyone was in a good mood... he couldn't have been happier," Earwood said. But, then "the old man showed up with his bride-to-be... (and) started screaming and yelling and chewed the kid up and down and sideways for something that had happened earlier. It was quite a scene and it rattled the hell out of the kid. He never did recover the rest of the night. He just looked beat."[15]

When asked if he was afraid of his father, Paul Jr. said, "My father can be very intimidating at times."[15]


Shortly after his disappearance, Paul Sr. was spotted by a passerby in the Fiji Islands who had recognized him from an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Having sailed back to Europe, he sold his sailboat via a magazine classified ad in Italy. He was last seen in Thailand.[25] The FBI wish to question him about Wood's disappearance, although they have no new leads.[26] He also appeared in an episode of Disappeared in 2012. As of 2019, the case remains unsolved.[citation needed]

In the summer of 1981, Paul Sr.'s then wife Chalice[27] had vanished without a trace. He'd later divorced in her absence to seek marriage with Hope, sister of Hurley Haywood in Haiti.[9][15]

Racing record

Career highlights

Season Series Position Team Car
1977 IMSA Camel GT Challenge [28] 8th John Paul Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
Chevrolet Monza
1978 FIA World Challenge for Endurance Drivers [8] 1st Jim Downing
JLP Racing
Mazda RX-2
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
IMSA Camel GT Challenge [29] 6th JLP Racing Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
Chevrolet Corvette
1979 Trans-Am Cat. 2 1st JLP Racing Porsche 935 JLP-1
1980 FIA World Challenge for Endurance Drivers [8][30] 1st Preston Henn
JLP Racing
Porsche 935 K3
Porsche 935 JLP2
Mazda RX-3
1981 Camel GT Championship [31] 12th JLP Racing Porsche 935 JLP3
Lola-Cosworth T600
FIA World Endurance Championship of Drivers [32] 112th JLP Racing Porsche 935 JLP3
1982 Camel GT Championship 3rd JLP Racing Porsche 935 JLP3
Camel GTO Championship [33] 41st Pontiac Firebird
FIA World Endurance Championship of Drivers [34] 103rd N.A.R.T. Ferrari 512BB LM

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
1978 IMSA+2.5 90 G Porsche 935/77A United States Dick Barbour Racing United Kingdom Brian Redman
United States Dick Barbour
337 5th 1st
1980 IMSA 73 G Porsche 935 JLP-2 United States J.L.P. Racing United Kingdom Guy Edwards
United States John Paul Jr.
312 9th 2nd
1982 IMSA GTX 72 M Ferrari 512BB LM United States N.A.R.T. France Alain Cudini
United States John Morton
306 9th 4th

Complete 24 Hours of Daytona results

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
1977 GTO 38 G Porsche 911 Carrera RSR United States John Paul United States John O'steen
United States Bob Hagestad
217 DNF
1978 GTO 33 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Puerto Rico Boricua Motors Puerto Rico Bonky Fernandez
United States Phil Currin
637 4th 2nd
1979 GTX 18 Porsche 935 JLP-1 United States JLP Racing United States Al Holbert
United States Michael Keyser
12 DNF
1980 GTX 09 Porsche 935/77A United States Thunderbird Swap Shop United States Al Holbert 682 2nd 2nd
1981 GTX 18 Porsche 935 JLP-2 United States JLP Racing United States John Paul Jr.
United States Gordon Smiley
53 DNF
1982 GTP 8 Porsche 935 JLP-2 United States JLP Racing United States John Paul Jr.
Germany Rolf Stommelen
GTP 18 G Porsche 935 JLP-3 United States JLP Racing United States John Paul Jr.
Germany Rolf Stommelen
719 1st
1983 GTP 8 Porsche 935 JLP-4 United States JLP Racing United States Phil Currin 15 DNF

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results

Year Class No Tyres Car Team Co-Drivers Laps Pos. Class
1977 GTO 38 G Porsche 911 Carrera RSR United States John Paul Sr. United States John O'steen
United States John Graves
United States Bob Hagestad
13 DNF
1978 GTO 33 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR United States JLP Racing Puerto Rico Bonky Fernandez 233 4th 1st
1979 GTX 18 Porsche 935 JLP-1 United States JLP Racing United States Al Holbert 176 DNF
1980 GTX 09 Porsche 935/77A United States Thunderbird Swap Shop United States Preston Henn
United States Al Holbert
239 4th 4th
1981 GTX 8 G Porsche 935 JLP-3 United States JLP Racing United States John Paul Jr. 40 DNF
1982 GTP 18 G Porsche 935 JLP-3 United States JLP Racing United States John Paul Jr. 244 1st

See also


  1. ^ a b c Top 100 racers Archived 2007-08-27 at the Wayback Machine at
  2. ^ a b c d Did They Drive Over The Line? Sam Moses, Sports Illustrated, May 27, 1985.
  3. ^ Gousseau, Alexis. John Paul Jr : IMSA's raw talent, IMSA History, February 13, 2007
  4. ^ a b Staff Writers (1986-05-08). "SPORTS PEOPLE: Driver Gets 5 Years". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  5. ^ "Le Mans 24 Hours 1978". Racing Sports Cars. 1978-11-06. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  6. ^ "Sebring 12 Hours 1978". Racing Sports Cars. 1978-03-18. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  7. ^ Flashback: 1979 Trans Am Mosport Race
  8. ^ a b c "World Challenge for Endurance Drivers – final positions and tables". 2000-06-16. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  9. ^ a b "Chalice Paul". 1947-08-31. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  10. ^ a b "Lime Rock Park – Lime Rock Park". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b Sam Moses (1985-05-27). "Former racer John Paul Sr. and his Indy 500-driving – 05.27.85 – SI Vault". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  12. ^ "SPAM protection / Ochrana proti SPAMu". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  13. ^ "Road America 500 Miles". Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  14. ^ Moses, Sam. Did They Drive Over The Line? Archived 2011-06-03 at the Wayback Machine, Sports Illustrated, May 27, 1985
  15. ^ a b c d e Glick, Shav (March 10, 1985). "Promising Driver John Paul Jr. Is Accused of Aiding Father in Smuggling Ring, Making It... : A Rough Road Ahead". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2014. The shooting occurred on a boat ramp in Crescent Beach, near St. Augustine.
  16. ^ Auto Racer Flees From His Trial United Press International, December 13, 1983.
  17. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE; Driver Extradited New York Times, March 30, 1986
  18. ^ "Paul, inmate use hot sauce in foiled escape attempt". The Associated Press. March 10, 1987. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  19. ^ Joseph Siano (1989-02-05). "Auto Racing; Paul Returns From Prison". New York Times. United States. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  20. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE; Ex-Racer Pleads Guilty The New York Times June 5, 1986.
  21. ^ Formula 1 and crime Archived 2008-11-19 at the Wayback Machine by Joe Saward,,
  22. ^ Inmate Locator – John Paul, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Retrieved 2012-01-14
  23. ^ "Colleen Wood". The Charley Project. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  24. ^ Missing: Colleen Wood Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine web site of Unseen Mysteries'.
  25. ^ "Rubber, wiet en tassen met geld: de verdwijning van een Nederlandse autocoureur". Sports (in Dutch). 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "IMSA Camel GT Challenge 1977 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  29. ^ "IMSA Camel GT Challenge – GTU 1978 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  30. ^ "World Sportscar Championship 1980 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  31. ^ "IMSA Camel GT Challenge 1981 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  32. ^ "World Sportscar Championship 1981 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  33. ^ "IMSA Camel GTO 1982 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  34. ^ "FIA World Endurance Championship 1982 standings | Driver Database". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 19:20
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