Jean-Pierre Paoli was a racing enthusiast who in the late 1960s was running the Bendor glass factory when he applied for the job as director of the Paul Ricard racing circuit. He impressed Paul Ricard, the circuit owner, was hired and soon afterwards - at the age of 33 - he made his competition debut, driving in Formula Renault with the works Martini team, which was known as BP Racing. His team mates were Jacques Laffite and Claude Michy. Laffite won the title but Paoli did a remarkable job, finishing third in his second race and ended the year fourth in the series. He moved up to French Formula 3 with Laffite the following year and finished second on his debut at the old Nurburgring. In the French series that year he won at La Chatre and scored a string of other good results both in France and Britain and so in 1974 he and Laffite moved into Formula 2 with BP-supported March-BMW 742s. In Mugello he finished second to Patrick Depailler.