Fifty years and over 500,000 students later, Bob Bondurant celebrated opening his first driving school. The school’s Grand Opening was on February 14, 1968, at OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) in Southern California. Bob raced everything from flat-tracking Indian motorcycles at Ascot to Ferraris in Formula One cars. Bob drove them all. Of particular interest to Corvette racing fans, Bob captured the West Coast B Production Championship and the Corvette Driver of the Year award in 1959. From 1960-’63, Bob drove the Shelly Washburn 1959 Corvette and the 1963 Z06 Sting Ray. Both Washburn Blue cars sported number 614 and campaigned from Washburn Chevrolet’s Santa Barbara, California, location. Bondurant won 30 of the 32 races he entered.
Bondurant said, “I opened my racing school on Valentine’s Day in 1968 because of what the day represents, “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.”
Over the last 50 years, the school has grown in both size and reach. From 1968-’90, the school was hosted at various racetracks in California before relocating to its permanent home at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona. The school is considered to be “the world’s fastest 100 acres” and boasts a fleet of more than 200 vehicles.
“Bob Bondurant School of High Performance is the only purpose-built driver training facility in the world,” said Pat Bondurant, CEO and President of Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and Bondurant Companies. “It’s taken a lot of hard work and initiative to be recognized globally as the expert authority on driver training and safety. 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.”
To date, the school has trained the Bondurant method to over 500,000 students from around the world, including many celebrities from the entertainment and sports industries such as Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, 50 Cent, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Shaun White, Jimmy Johnson, and Jeff Gordon to name a few. Hollywood actor Paul Newman was one of the first students to train with Bob Bondurant in 1968, for the movie Winning. Bob and Paul forged an unbreakable bond of friendship as Bob continued to coach Newman through movie roles and two decades of racing at Le Mans and winning SCCA championships.
From high-performance driving classes to racing preparation and law enforcement training, Bondurant has a program that improves the skills of anyone. To learn more about Bondurant’s new Fiat Trackside and Road Rally programs, as well as its other classes, please call 1-800-842-RACE or visit www.bondurant.com.