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HSR Tribute to John Paul Jr

John Paul Jr. Loses Heroic Battle with Huntington’s Disease


John Paul Jr., one of motor racing’s most versatile drivers whose lengthy resume included an IMSA GT championship, seven appearances in the Indianapolis 500, two victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona, two victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, a second-place finish at LeMans, 1983 victory in the CART IndyCar Michigan 500, and a 1998 victory in the IRL Texas 500, lost a long battle with Huntington’s Disease Tuesday, December 29.  He would have celebrated his 61st birthday on Feb. 19.


Considered one of America’s greatest natural driving talents, Paul Jr. began competing nationally in Formula Fords in 1979.  Three years later, he won the IMSA GT title at age 22, becoming the youngest driver ever to wear that crown.  Subsequently, he became a driving instructor until symptoms of Huntington’s, an inherited neurodegenerative disorder first appeared. 


He spent the last 20 years championing the fight to raise awareness of Huntington’s while working closely with Dr. Susan Perlman of UCLA's Department of Neurology.  His life story and his fight with Huntington’s was documented in a book by racing journalist Sylvia Wilkinson entitled “50/50:  John Paul Jr. and His Battle with Huntington’s Disease” available through


John Paul Jr. passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family at his home in southern California while under hospice care.   


Dr. Susan Perlman stated,” As a champion Indy car driver, every time John Paul stepped into his car, he faced death. With Huntington’s disease, stepping into each day, John Paul faced the same. Over the past 20 years John raised HD awareness, raised funds to support research, and personally participated in any research that he could. Over this 20 years, hundreds of studies into the mechanisms of HD and dozens of trials of disease modifying therapies have been completed. John has finished the race, and we have all cheered for him. We will miss you. 


John Paul Jr. efforts and advocacy made tremendous efforts towards raising awareness as well as much needed research dollars towards a cure.”


A Celebration of Life will be postponed until the fall of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Further information will be posted here and on Paul Jr’s Facebook page Http://  Both sites also contain Information on how to donate to Huntington’s Disease research. 

50/50: John Paul Jr. and His Battle with Huntington’s Disease

50/50: John Paul Jr. and His Battle with Huntington’s Disease
By Sylvia Wilkinson

Initially described as “hopeless” by a professional driving instructor, John Paul Jr.’s driving career began in 1979 driving Formula Fords. The following year he joined his controversial father’s racing team as co-driver in the IMSA series. After only two years of competing, John Paul Jr. started the 1982 season with back-to-back wins
at Daytona and Sebring, and by the end of the season, he had clinched the championship at the age of 22, becoming

IMSA’s youngest champion. He won the Michigan 500 CART race in 1983, followed by a second-place finish at Le Mans in 1984. Additionally, John Paul Jr competed in the Indianapolis 500 seven times. Symptoms of the neurodegenerative disorder Huntington’s disease began to appear at age 39, and John Paul Jr. began his fight against this deadly disease. This book chronicles John Paul Jr.’s life story and his continuing battle with Huntington’s. All profits from “50/50 -The Story of Champion Race Car Driver John Paul Jr and His Battle with Huntington’s Disease” will go to John Paul Jr.’s funds to fight Huntington’s disease, (all proceeds go to UCLA Neurology, Dr. Perlman’s research), please order it from You will need to fill out a form online, and Sylvia will reach out to you to complete the order.  



John Paul Jr. Huntinton's Disease Foundation is a 501 C-3 

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John was a major part of a clinical study program at UCLA. His major concern and hope was to help with the advancement of finding a cure for Huntington's Disease.  Not only could this help him, but more importantly it will help the future of his children and other children in the future.  Huntington's Disease has some similarities with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Huntington's disease is unique, however, in that the gene that causes the disease has been identified. This makes research on Huntington's disease even more important in the field of nuerological disorders as genetic medicine becomes more and more of a reality. Developing better treatments and finding a cure for Huntington's disease will be vital for improving treatments and curing other conditions too, like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

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