Bennett on the right side of the fence
Bennett on the right side of the fence
One of the most successful racers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championshio began his racing career here at Lime Rock Park peering through the paddock fence hoping to someday find his way inside its confines.
Jon Bennett went to high school in Newtown, Connecticut, about 90 miles away.
“I spent many a day peaking through the fence at Lime Rock when I was 13-14 years old trying to figure out how one day I could be in there,” recalls Bennett.
Fresh from a victory at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Bennett is no longer on the outside looking in. He is the owner of CORE autopsport, a five-time IMSA Prototype Challenge (PC) class championship team and former winner here at Lime Rock.
CORE is also the entrant for the powerful Porsche North America factory GTLM team.
“I did my first racing school, a Skip Barber school, here at Lime Rock when I was 17 years old,” said Bennett.
Bennett raced in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) for 18 years while building his business, Composite Resources, a full service composite engineering and manufacturing company devoted to high-speed problem solving for clients in defense, aerospace, medical and motorsports.
Bennett was looking to move into the former American Le Mans Series (ALMS) when he met Morgan Brady. Together they shared a vision for building a successful team.
FINDING THE RIGHT SEATMATE
In building the CORE autosport team, Bennett and Brady planned to enter the Prototype Challenge (PC) class with its single specification cars and Pro-Am format.
They targeted a hot young driver from Texas named Colin Braun to co-drive with Bennett.
“I was coming off success in sportscars and NASCAR and then back to sportscars,” said Braun, now just 27 years old.
“I told Jon and Morgan that I wanted to win races and compete for championships. That was what they wanted and were prepared to build a team to do that.
“We have built consistency over a period of time and we have produced wins and championships together. It’s been fantastic. We all really click.”
INSIDE THE LIME ROCK FENCE
“Lime Rock is one of the toughest tracks that we race,” said Bennett.
“This is the shortest track that we race (1.474 miles) and there is not a lot of time to catch your breath.
“The track is very busy and requires total concentration. It keeps you busy both physically and with all the traffic. Frankly, I am always glad to survive the race here without any mistakes.”
TEAMED WITH PORSCHE
CORE has also achieved considerable success as the entrant and logistical partner for the Porsche GTLM team.
The 2015 IMSA WeatherTech Championship GTLM Class Manufacturer and Team champions are based at CORE’s Rock Hill, South Carolina headquarters.
“It was amazing to be selected by Porsche to support its factory North American team and even more important is that they recently extended our agreement,” said Bennett.
The Porsche driver line-up includes 2015 GTLM driver Champion Patrick Pilet, 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour race overall winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, and international star Frederic Makowiecki.
This will be the first time that the factory dominated GTLM class has been on the IMSA program here at Lime Rock since 2013.
In the WeatherTech Championship PC and GT Daytona (GTD) classes, Pro drivers are teamed with non-Pro drivers.
The pros are all pretty close in speed, so the key to success is often determined by the performance of the lower rated “sportsman or gentleman” driver.
Braun credits Bennett both for putting together a top team and for his performance behind the wheel.
“Jon has a tremendous work ethic. He has a tremendous desire to always be better,” said Braun.
“The effort he puts in to continuously improving has been a big part of our success. He is a naturally talented driver and we work well together.”
Jon Bennett started out looking through the fence hoping to find a way into the Lime Rock Park paddock.
Now, he and his teams often stand on the podium inside it.