Bob Bondurant school of driving closes amid bankruptcy filing

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The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving closed its doors for good on Monday amid an ongoing bankruptcy filing. | Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo
The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving closed its doors for good on Monday amid an ongoing bankruptcy filing. | Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo

The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving closed its doors Monday, slightly more than a month after the school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The news was confirmed by a spokesman for the school. A call to the school’s president and CEO, Patricia Bondurant, was not immediately returned.

There was no immediate word on why the decision was made to close the school. The spokesman said more details would likely be released in the coming days.

This sign was taped to the doors at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving on Monday. I blocked out the phone number on the sign, which was Bondurant's personal cell phone. | Carter Nacke photo
This sign was taped to the doors at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving on Monday. I blocked out the phone number on the sign, which was Bondurant’s personal cellphone. | Carter Nacke photo

Bondurant said in a statement at the time of the bankruptcy filing, “In a difficult yet important step towards becoming a stronger company, Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Inc. filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona on October 2, 2018.”

Court documents showed that the school owed between $1 million and $10 million to more than 50 but fewer than 100 creditors. Bondurant reportedly had between $1 million and $10 million in assets.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a business to restructure and reorganize its debts. Companies typically remain in operation under Chapter 11 and Bondurant said it planned to follow suit when it filed.

“We will continue operating and serving our students and corporate groups as usual while we develop new business relationships to ensure the vitality of the company in the future,” the October statement read.

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Bob Bondurant, a renowned sports car and grand prix driver until crash injuries sidelined his career, founded the school in California 50 years ago. It moved to the outskirts of Arizona in the late 1980s.

The Bondurant School has a three-mile main track, a cart track and several other tracks or driving-instruction areas, where it trained everyone from professional and aspiring racing drivers to student drivers and police personnel. The school is the largest purpose-built driving instruction facility in the world.

It was also the official training school for Dodge SRT vehicles, including the Hellcat. The one-day course was included in the purchase or lease price of the cars and taught those behind the wheel how to avoid accidents, steer out of a skid and other technical driving skills.

The school had a deal with Fiat-Chrysler and used Viper sports cars and Hellcat muscle cars as training vehicle. In the past, the school was linked with Ford, running Roush-prepared Mustangs and Formula Ford open-wheel racers, and General Motors, when it used Corvettes and other performance models.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

19 COMMENTS

  1. That’s to bad ,back in the 70’s I went to a Bondurant school at Sears Point (infineon) I was out in a fast Carson 510 ,learned a lot and had a blast, hope it rebounds back to greatness

  2. How was Mark Trostle just there over the weekend and FCA/Dodge/SRT not aware of this? I actually received email confirmation of my SRT experience moments after students were told to leave classes, and signs taped to the doors.

  3. My son and I were in day 1 of a 3 day class and found out that Patty was closing the doors on Friday. Unfortunately she made it clear she hadn’t any intention to pay the employees. They found out and walked out. They ended the classes and closed the doors. My company who has done several events there was supposed to do a large corporate event there on Thurs. We had already paid for it, and I have seveal execs in town just forbtebevent and will have to make other arrangements. When asked about refunding cost I was directed to contact my credit card and informed Patty would not be returning funds for sercices not rendered.

    • in my opinion seems I tstarted with good intentions then bottom line always end with money problems when people who take over have lost that original intention

  4. Shame that driving courses like this are not mandatory. It would save thousands of lives each year if this was required in order to receive any driver license.

  5. It will take a Real car guy and Sharp business man to turn this Huge oppportunity around. The one name that comes to mind Jay Leno. What do you think about my suggestion?

  6. I was a student at the Bondurant School almost 50 years ago when it was in its infancy. I was 17 at the time and driving both a Shelby GT350 and a Shelby Cobra (289 FIA) for a Ford dealership in central Massachusetts. What I learned at the Bondurant School has helped me maintain a 54 year record of no moving violations (I haven’t been caught) or an at fault accident. I’m often referred to as an aggressive driver, but that said I’ve had cops tell me I drive like they do. I’m sad to see the school close, those were really fun, challenging days spent there on two different occasions. They made me a better racer, and a better, safer driver. I hope this is just a setback and not a permanent situation.

  7. Wow. I was just there taking a 3 Day course on October 22nd through the 24th. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. This makes me so sad. I hope they can reorganize and reopen.

  8. There’s got to be a good story regarding how a business like this which seems to have lucrative contracts with major manufacturers ends up in bankruptcy. A crying shame to occur in the sunset of what should have been America’s World Sports Car Champion’s career. Bob is a fine man, so there has to be a very interesting – or boring – story behind this.

  9. Sad news, but a M/C Industry buddy who knew Bob B., said he never was a very astute businessman. I knew him when he had his Driving School at Sears Point (Sonoma) and raced SCCA Sedans against his son Bobby (Jr.). Does anyone know of Bobby’s whereabouts? Did he follow his dad to Arizona? Buzz Dyer

  10. How unfortunate. The sunset of a great thing ending with dark clouds instead of beautiful colors. I am SO grateful I was able to have the experience I had dreamed of with best friend as a teen – and to have done so with my son who just got his license! Memories of that wonderful experience have now been laced with gratitude and relief as well.
    My best to the family and those who dedicated careers there as well – thanks for 50 years 🙂

    • This story was from last November. The school has since been sold and is back in operation. We’ve had a number of subsequent stories about that.

  11. This is a pretty great post. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog on this subject myself. Any tips or anything you would recommend that I to avoid?

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