Bob would soon learn what it was like to drive an F1 car, how fragile they were, as well a
Twice, Bob was badly injured, not from driver error, but from mechanical failure. It could happen again, if it did and the results were worse, how would he make a living, Bob wondered?
Lying in the hospital bed with broken bones didn’t break his desire to get back on track, in more ways than one. Bob formulated a plan to open a high-performance driving school. After all, he tutored the likes of actor James Garner during the filming in 1966 for his role in Grand Prix, and enjoyed passing on what he’d learned driving race cars to Rockford (who became a gifted race car driver in his own right), and the other actors in the film.
Bob realized his dream, opening the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving at Orange County Raceway on Valentine’s Day 1968 with a Vee-Dub van (minus the peace signs and daisies), a Datsun 510, and a Formula V for starters.
In the interim, Bob did get back on track (or the horse so to speak), knowing he had a growing business to fall back on should anything catastrophic happen again, entering a Can-Am race June 1970 driving a Chevy Lola T160.
When Ontario Motor Speedway opened in 1970, Bob moved his school to the $25 million complex, but the track’s troubled management forced him to then move to Sears Point, north of Frisco, which he outgrew, then finally to Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona. Bob’s fleet has grown to 200 race-prepared Cads, Vettes (naturally), open-wheel Formula cars, and karts.
Bob came in Fourth, driving a privately entered V-16 British Racing Motors (BRM) Formula 1
Bob competed in 36 different events after his crash up to 2004, which included Daytona, 24 Hour of Le Mans, Nurburgring, Germany, and the Sebring 12 Hour. At 62, Bob grabbed a Third place podium finish at Road Atlanta in a Saleen Mustang in 1995.
Bob’s massive 60-acre complex in Arizona is designed to show students the fastest and safest way around the 1.6-mile road course. Since Bob has never stopped racing (he still enters vintage events), he still has some sneaky moves his experienced instructors have never seen before.
Bob is living a hot rodder’s fantasy; he can race anytime he damn-well pleases and the only red lights in his mirrors are the cop cars on the track taking his Law Enforcement training class. Bob is definitely the kid who owns the candy story!
Bob learned to drive in his buddy’s mom’s Chrysler that they sorta borrowed. The next thing you know, he’s driving a Cobra down a dark straightaway at 190-plus mph in France, not once, but for hours. Bob might’ve thought, if just for an instant, if the guys at the Piccadilly could only see me now! Bob should be an inspiration to anyone who has a dream … he followed his.
Bob went from racing on Southern California’s (relatively safe) airport courses outlined w
This extraordinary photograph captures the fatigue, the relief, and the jubilation showing