When Jon Bennett steps out of the No. 54 CORE autosport ADT/Flex-Box Jissan DPi following his final stint in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, it will mark the conclusion of his successful racing career.
“This is the end of 28 consecutive seasons for me, in all different forms, culminating in a couple of seasons in the top category of sports car racing in America,” said the 54-year-old native of Fort Knox, Kentucky. “It’s been fantastic. I think we’ve done a good job. I’ve met a lot of great people; I’ve made a lot of new friends.”
As a tribute to the retiring driver, CORE autosport is carrying the livery from Bennett’s days racing with Colin Braun in Prototype Challenge in the Motul Petit Le Mans.
Bennett will co-drive the No. 54 Nissan with long-time associate Braun and Romain Dumas. He is the only Bronze-rated driver in the DPi category, one that’s dominated by Platinum- and Gold-rated competitors. He’s held his own. A year ago, Bennett finished second in the Prototype point standings – winning at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America, while joining Braun in placing only three points shy of champions Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr.
“I kind of wandered into someone else’s workplace,” Bennett said of racing in the Pro/Pro class (Pro/Pro/Pro at Petit Le Mans). “But I think I’ve held my own. It’s been fantastic to compare my skills and lap times with some of the best in the world, ex and current IndyCar and Formula One drivers. It’s been a great experience. The paddock has been very kind to me, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
For a career highlight, Bennett looks back at the inaugural race for what was then called the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship at the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona. That event brought together competitors from the ALMS and Grand-Am Rolex Series for the first time.
“Our team, CORE autosport, did our very first 24-hour race when the two series merged,” Bennett said. “As Murphy’s Law would have it, that was also our very first race with Porsche as a factory team. So there was a lot that could go wrong that day – long race, twice as long as what we were used to, and we wanted to do a great job for Porsche. When the checkered flag fell, our partners with Porsche, and Colin and I had both won at Daytona. They say lightning never strikes twice in one place – it was an unbelievable day for us.”
Other career highlights include two Prototype Championship titles, two PC victories at Sebring and six ALMS PC triumphs.
Bennett has been paired with Braun for the past eight years, running in PC, GTD, LMP2, DPi and even a stint in Global Rally Cross.
“Jon and I have done a lot of stuff together,” Braun said. “We’ve had some good times.”
“My biggest wish for Colin is that in a few weeks we will learn about what’s the next stage in Colin’s career,” Bennett said. “I look forward to being Colin’s shadow, watching him climb even higher in superstardom.”
While he may be hanging up the helmet, Bennett plans to remain very close to the sport.
“Luckily, with CORE helping Porsche with its GTLM program, I’m not going very far away.”