Bob and Patricia Bondurant, who co-own the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, plan to sell the business as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the facility’s chief restricting officer said.
“We’re going to be selling the school to a brand-new owner,” Tim Shaffer, who was hired by the school shortly after it declared bankruptcy in October, told the ClassicCars.com Journal.
Shaffer said selling is one of several options for a business to exit Chapter 11. The Bondurant school will be sold under Section 363 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. That basically means the school must go to the highest or best offer on the table and be approved by the court.
“Everybody is actually excited,” Shaffer said. “We get to preserve the legacy of Bob Bondurant and the school. It’s been in business for 51 years. That’s a long time.”
Bob Bondurant originally founded the school in California. The current campus — which the school brands as the largest purpose-built driving school in the world — opened in 1990.
Shaffer could not disclose the exact number of inquiring investors, but said “more than five and less than 10” were doing what he would term “deep due diligence.”
He added that the target date for a sale is the third week of March, with the goal for handing the business over to new ownership tentatively set April 1, pending court approval. That date aligns with a 30-day extension the school was granted this week to pay back rent and continue investor negotiations.
The potential sale date would put Shaffer a bit ahead of schedule. He originally estimated the school would emerge from Chapter 11 sometime before mid-summer.
“If I’m not out of Chapter 11 by the end of June or the Fourth of July, I’m not doing a good job,” he said shortly after being hired.
While Shaffer said every bankruptcy case is different, Bondurant’s had some unusual quirks.
“This one is a little different because of the sponsorships and the fact that a lot of the assets are leased,” he said. “Every bankruptcy has those kind of elements, but probably not to this degree. That makes this one a little more unique than others.”
Shaffer said the sale will let the Bondurants focus on other matters.
“I think Pat is ready to just do what she needs to do to help Bob and take care of him,” Shaffer said. “That’s their focus.”
Bob Bondurant is 85 years old and is experiencing health issues.
Whether the Bondurant name will remain on the school is not known. It will be sold as an asset to the top bidder, who can continue to use it if it wishes. Shaffer is optimistic that the Bondurant legacy will be carried on in some form.
“Everyone wants to see this survive,” he said.