I recently had the opportunity to attend the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Arizona. I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a little about the man behind the school before I got into what a great training opportunity it was. Just like our greatest firearms trainers are the pinnacles in their field and have dedicated their lives to their craft, so has Bob Bondurant for racing. I hold him up as an American Legend, taking motor sports places it hadn’t gone before.
After a nearly fatal accident, Bob Bondurant founded a racing school bearing his name. Since 1968 over 300,000 students have graduated from his courses becoming better drivers and in some cases, champions. Even in his 80s, Bob Bondurant is out there daily, getting behind the wheel and interacting with his students. Although no longer a primary instructor, he will take the time to meet you and has a quick story or two that both entertain and inform. This photo is of Bob and me right before he took me for a few hot laps in his Shelby Cobra. I can tell you, it was a white knuckle ride.
This is Bob’s official bio. It’s impressive to say the least. Consider that he also learned to fly helicopters and I can assure you that he’s pushed those to their limits as well.
Internationally recognized as the leading authority on advanced driver training, Bob Bondurant has been at the forefront of professional driving instruction since 1968. Utilizing the Bondurant Method, over 250,000 students, ranging from housewives, racers and celebrities, to teenagers, professionals and police officers, have learned from Bondurant’s expertise.
Bondurant grew up in the Westwood area of Los Angeles with a passion for anything on wheels. By the time he was 18, he was racing an Indian Scout motorcycle on the local dirt ovals, and soon moved to sports cars in 1956 at the wheel of a Morgan. His racing career began to soar in 1959, when driving a Corvette in the Southern California region, Bondurant captured the West Coast “B” Production Championship and the Corvette Driver of the Year Award.
In 1963, Bob joined the team of Carroll Shelby and Ford Cobras in Europe and went on to win numerous races and a chance to compete in the 1964 World GT Championship. Paired with Dan Gurney that year, Bob won the GT Category overall and placed 4th in a Cobra Daytona Coupe at Le Mans.
Bob remained in Europe in 1965 and drove to win 7 out of 10 races earning him the World Manufacturers’ Championship for the U.S. driving a Shelby Cobra. That honor would put Bob in Formula One for Ferrari at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix.
In 1966, Bob continued with Ferrari, driving in the World Manufacturers’ Championship for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers Team. Between races Bob worked as a consultant on the now famous movie “Grand Prix” with James Garner.
In 1967, Bob joined the Dana Chevrolet Team in the growing Can-Am and USRC (United States Road Championship). That year while racing at Watkins Glen, a broken steering arm caused a crash at 150mph, rolling his car eight times and ending the promising professional racing career of Bob Bondurant.
Faced with the possibility of never walking or racing again, Bob went back to what he knew better than anyone in the world: maximum car control. Bob began teaching at Carroll Shelby’s driving school in Riverside, California. Having finally regained his physical abilities, Bob opened his school in 1968 with three Datsuns, a Lola T70 Can-Am car and a Formula Vee.
On February 14, 1968, the doors opened at Orange County International Raceway, near Los Angeles, with three students. The next week there were two students, Paul Newman and Robert Wagner, training for the film, “Winning”. Bob was technical advisor, camera car driver, and actor-instructor for the film.
Two years later the school moved to nearby Ontario Motor Speedway, and in 1973 to Sears Point International Raceway near Sonoma, California. In 1983, Ford Motor Company offered to provide vehicles and other support to the school.
Seven years later, on March 2, 1990, Bob’s dream of building a purpose-built driver training facility became a reality in Phoenix, Arizona. The school maintains over 200 race-prepared vehicles, sedans, and open wheel cars. The school is the largest facility of its kind in North America.
Today, Bob continues to teach daily, time permitting, and race in select vintage racing events around the country. Whether racing, flying his helicopter or speeding around the course in a Bondurant race prepared car or SuperKart, Bob is still considered the man to beat and the master of maximum car control.