John Paul Jr.
The Man Behind the Cause
John was an admired, respected All-American racing legend as well as being one of the kindest of humans with the biggest of hearts. He began his racing career by competing nationally in Formula Fords. Three years later, he became the IMSA GT champion at the young age of 22, and held the record as the youngest driver to wear that crown for over a decade and a half. John was one of motor racing's most versatile drivers. He raced in several series including NASCAR, TransAm, CART, IRL, IMSA, WSC, and Grand Am. His multiple racing victories include two coveted wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, two-time winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring, as well as wins at the highest level of open wheel racing - the Michigan 500 (CART) and the Texas 500 (IRL). He raced the Indy 500 seven times, leading for over 100 miles in 1998 until a mechanical failure with 30 laps to end of race caused him to finish 7th.
Considered one of America's greatest natural driving talents, John had to retire from motorsports when the symptoms of Huntington's Disease (HD), an inherited neurodegenerative disorder began to invade his driving abilities.
He spent the last 20 years of his life championing the fight to raise awareness of Huntington's Disease while working close with Dr. Susan Perlman of UCLA's Department of Neurology. His life story and his battle with HD is documented in a book by racing journalist Sylvia Wilkinson entitled "50/50" John Paul Jr. and his battle with Huntington's Disease.