John Paul Sr


Record updated 12-Mar-20

A big name in IMSA racing in the mid-'70s and early '80s, he was convicted in 1983 of importing marijuana, tax evasion, possession of a false passport and shooting a federal witness, he went on the run, finally being caught in Geneva. Released in 1992 he is currently wanted in connection with the disappearance of his girlfriend in 2001. As of 2020 his whereabouts are still unknown.

John Paul Sr
Born Hans-Johan Paul, in Holland, he emigrated to the US in 1956. He changed his name to John Lee Paul and settled to Muncie, Indiana. A talented mathematitian, he graduated from Harvard and joined Putnam Management, an invenstment firm, as a fund manager. His fund grew from $600 million to  $4 billion in six years and with it Paul became a millionaire.

He started racing in the late 1960s, winning the SCCA Northeast Regional Championship in 1968. In 1969 and 1970, he drove with Bob Esseks in his "lightweight" Corvette.

Then, when he and his wife, Joyce, split up in 1972 he quit his job, sold up and purchased a sailing boat. John Paul Jr who was born in 1960 stayed with his mother while Senior sailed away, taking off for a couple of years. When he came back in 1975, Junior moved in and Senior went racing again, this time with a Porsche RSR.

However the car just wasn't competitive so, in 1976, John bought a DeCon Monza from Al Holbert. He ran the car, complete with its aluminium big block Shadow engine in 1977.

In 1979 he won the Trans-Am title with his single turbo Porsche 935 before the regulations were revised to exclude turbos.

On May 26, 1980, John Paul Sr. and Jr. become the first father and son to co-drive to victory in an IMSA GT race. Earlier in the day, John Sr. held his wedding ceremony at the track.

Then in 1982, Paul and his son won the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 935 Turbo, the last time the same drivers and car won both classics in the same year.

In the early 1980s, IMSA sportscar racing was rife with drug scandals. These involved John Paul Sr and Jr, Randy Lanier and the Whittington Brothers. John Paul Jr was jailed from June 1986 to October 1988 after pleading guilty to racketeering, while John Paul Sr was given a 25 year sentence after pleading guilty to importing marijuana, tax evasion, possession of a false passport and shooting a federal witness. John Paul Sr had shot Stephen Carson, a witness in the Federal inquiry on narcotics smuggling in north Florida, on April 19 1982 at a boat ramp. Carson actually survived 5 bullets at close range and it was his testimony that made for a quick conviction.
On Dec 13th 1983 he failed to appear for sentencing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Judge Richard Weinberg of St. Johns County Circuit Court ordered his $500,000 bond forfeited. He was on the run for several years and was eventually arrested in Geneva, Switzerland, by FBI officers.

He finally got out of jail in 1992 and bought a 55-foot yacht which he lived on. He changed the name of his boat to from "Island Girl" to "Diamond Girl." John Paul Sr. disappeared again in 2001 and was wanted for questioning regarding his missing ex-girlfriend in Miami.