Bondurant school celebrates 50 years

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Bondurant school celebrates 50 years | ClassicCars.com Journal
Bondurant school celebrates its 50th anniversary | Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photos

From actors getting ready for roles in feature films to experienced auto racers looking to improve their competitiveness and from military and from security personal who need evasive driving skills to teenagers just learning to maneuver a vehicle safely, more than half a million people have gained enhanced driving skills at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

But the very first students — there were three of them — reported to class on Valentine’s Day, 1968, making Valentine’s Day 2018 the school’s 50th anniversary.

Bondurant school celebrates 50 years | ClassicCars.com Journal
Bondurant and the school’s first cars

“I opened my racing school on Valentine’s Day in 1968 because of what the day represents,” Bondurant said in a news release.“It’s a day that celebrates love and passion. And there’s nothing I loved more passionately than racing and teaching, high-performance driving, and just as important, driver safety.

“Of course, I’m very proud of the incredible influence my school has had on drivers from around the world. I’m so grateful to have created such a great legacy and to be the only family owned and operated driver training school of this scale.”

Bondurant was a world-championship racing driver but in 1967 the steering arm broke on a car he was driving at Watkins Glen, New York, and he suffered severe injuries, was told he’d never walk again.

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Bondurant school celebrates 50 years | ClassicCars.com Journal
Bondurant and one of his first students — actor Paul Newman — ham it up after class

Part of his recuperation was to start a school to teach others to drive. The school opened with five vehicles (Datsuns) in Orange County, California. It later moved to other California locations before relocating to suburban Phoenix in 1990 at what now is known as Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where the school has 100 acres and a fleet of more than 200 vehicles (Dodges, Alfa Romeos and Fiats).

“It’s taken a lot of hard work and initiative to be recognized globally as the expert authority on driver training and safety,” said Pat Bondurant, Bob’s wife and chief executive of the school. “But this 50th Anniversary is not just a chance to reflect on our incredible legacy, this is a milestone to inspire us as we look forward to training the next generation of drivers.”

“We have a phenomenal reputation and history, and we’re just as excited about our next 50 years,” added Jason Bondurant, the school’s vice president. “My dad says that the technology and performance in the automotive industry has improved by light-years, but those advancements have not diminished the need for driver training. In fact, driver safety is more important today, than it ever was.”

For information on the school’s class offerings, visit the Bondurant website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. As many of us know, there was no Driver’s World Championship in 1965 for the FIA. Had there been one, Bob would’ve been it. A fantastic driver, a great contributor to American and world motorsport and a very nice man as well. Where’s his autobiography, anyway?

  2. Bob Bondurant is a "World Class Driver". From out-racing Enzo Ferrari (and his factory full of engineers) at LeMans with Carol Shelby (and a handful of hot-rodders working out of a rented garage in SoCal), to running world-class driving schools. Teaching the skills needed to survive and thrive behind the wheel to people from all over the world. Simply said, Bob Bondurant is a world-class guy. (And he’s still making a difference in our world.) Happy Valentines Day Bob and Pat.

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