Apart from driving, Chris Amon also ran his own Formula One team for a short period in 1974. Away from Formula One, Amon had some success in sports car racing, teaming with co-driver Bruce McLaren to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966.
Amon was born in Bulls, and attended Wanganui Collegiate School. He was the only child of wealthy sheep-owners Ngaio and Betty Amon. He learned to drive at the age of six, taught by a farm worker on the family farm. On leaving school, he persuaded his father to buy him an Austin A40 Special, which he entered in some minor local races and hillclimbs along with practice on the family farm. He progressed to a 1.5-litre Cooper and then an old 2.5-litre Maserati 250F, but only began to draw attention when he drove the Cooper-Climax T51 which Bruce McLaren had used to win his maiden Grand Prix.
In 1962 Amon entered the Cooper for the New Zealand winter series, but was hampered by mechanical problems. However, Scuderia Veloce entered him in a similar car, and, in the rain at Lakeside, he performed well. One of the spectators there was the English racing driver Reg Parnell who persuaded Amon to come to England and race for his team. In a test at Goodwood Amon continued to impress and was on the pace in the Goodwood International Trophy and Aintree 200 pre-season races.
For the 1963 Formula One season the Parnell team were using the year old Lola Mk4A, powered by 1962 specification Climax V8 engines. Amon was teamed with the very experienced Maurice Trintignant for the first race of the season at Monaco and his Grand Prix career started with what was to become typical bad luck: Trintignant's Climax developed a misfire, so he took over Amon's car.
At the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix, Amon was partnered by Lucien Bianchi and started ahead of him from 15th position. After nine laps, however, an oil fire ended his race. He continued to experience mechanical problems at the Dutch, Mexican and German Grands Prix; and after an accident in practice for the Italian Grand Prix left him hanging out of his car's cockpit with three broken ribs, he missed both the Italian and United States rounds.