The death of legendary race driver and performance-driving coach Bob Bondurant came shortly after the rebranding of the driving school that he operated under his name in Arizona for nearly 40 years, before it was sold to an investment group.
Bondurant, 88, died of unspecified causes in early November, although he had been confined to an assisted-living facility in the Phoenix area.
Bondurant’s story is well-known to racing fans and driving enthusiasts, how the champion driver had worked his way up from motorcycle competition to racing Cobras and Daytonas at Le Mans for Carroll Shelby’s team, among his many accomplishments. Then, at the top of his game, how he had been grievously injured in a practice crash that ended his racing career.
After that, he turned his injury into a life-fulfilling opportunity, opening his own racing school in 1968 that became the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. In 1990, he moved the school to a purposed-built facility just south of Phoenix that included a teaching race track of his own design.
The world-famous academy of driving skill made Bondurant even more famous than he had been as a driver, and the school hosted celebrities, pro drivers, teens, police and everyday people, all of whom wanted to hone their abilities behind the wheel using Bondurant’s methods.
In 2018, the Bondurant school celebrated its 50th anniversary, but financial troubles were surfacing. In October 2019, the school – which was being operated by Bondurant’s wife, Patricia, as president and chief executive officer – declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and reportedly was looking for a buyer.
The school closed for business, then in March 2019, it was sold to Stig Investments, comprised of three car and driving enthusiasts who had named their company after the famous anonymous race driver in the British TV series Top Gear. The price tag was reported as $1.675 million.
In March 2021, Bondurant’s name was removed from the school he founded, renamed as the Radford Racing School. The move was caused partially by copyright issues with the Bondurant family. Patricia Bondurant remains the president and CEO of a business entity called Bondurant Racing School.