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RIP Bob Bondurant

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  • RIP Bob Bondurant

    https://racer.com/2021/11/14/bob-bondurant-1933-2021/

  • #2
    They announced this toward the end of Petit Le Mans last night. A life well lived. Things got a bit wacky toward the end, but that’s not really on him.
    “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    • #3
      Saw him win a race a very long time ago.

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      • #4
        I went to his driving school many years ago. After the instructors and students had a meet and greet, we were loaded into 12 passenger van and Bob drove us around the track, hauling ass, tires squealing, body rolled way over. I watched the next group go by and he had that thing up on three wheels, big smile.

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        • #5
          Seems like quite a life, quite a career, that fellow had. Good on him.

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          • #6
            I went to Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

            All I could afford was a ballcap. And I still have it.

            I was visiting my brother who lived close to Firebird. I was in Phoenix for the 2005 IRL race. I bought a 300mm zoom lens and felt I needed some practice. I went down there and got a tour around. They showed me the shifter kart school. I looked at the pricing guide and went and sat my broke ass on a picnic table and watched a few classes out on the road course and snapped a couple rolls of film.

            Then i watched a group of lucky chevy people have the ball of their life out on the skid pad. They hammering these Corvettes.

            I will never forget my day at Bondurant and have always dreamnt of going back.

            RIP Mr. Bondurant.
            "Far better it is to dare mighty things, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat" -Teddy Roosevelt

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            • #7
              Back when I went, Bondurant was getting cars from Ford at a big discount in exchange for training Ford execs. On the last day of the 4 day course, I came over a rise and saw a Mustang way out in the gravel trap at the hairpin. I slowed down, and as I got close, I saw the tires turn in reverse a couple of times....no dice.

              By the time I got back around, he was out of the car and gone. His wife had to come to watch the last day and have lunch. They left early...

              We all talked about it at lunch. One of the instructors said, 'Aw, that's nothing. Last month, we had a Ford guy who really missed that corner. He blew through the gravel, knocked down the chain link and ended up on the frontage road. He just put it in gear, drove it around and came back in the main gate. He was really disappointed when he could not continue.'

              I should point out, I've made mistakes, too. I was at the 3-day Porsche school in August and on the last day, I was getting pretty frisky and thought I was a bad ass. Second lap, I put all 4 tires out on the grass at the bottom of the Museum turn at Barber, doing about 80 there. Apparently, the instructors/observers were still getting in place because no one saw me. I need to download the video and take a look, scared hell out of me.

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              • #8
                Had the chance to meet him 12 years ago, and seemed like a genuinely nice guy who loved racing. RIP sir.
                RHR: "I'm a proud American boy right now!" -2014 Indy 500 Victory Lane

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                • #9
                  Another racing legend has passed. His racing school started at Firebird International Raceway now called Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona many years ago and I know of several people who attended his school there. Rest in peace Bob Bondurant.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Elusive1 View Post
                    His racing school started at Firebird International Raceway now called Wildhorse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona many years ago and I know of several people who attended his school there. Rest in peace Bob Bondurant.
                    Bondurant started his racing school at Orange County International Raceway, moved it to Ontario Motor Speedway, then Sears Point before moving it Firebird around 1990 or so.
                    "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JThur1 View Post
                      Bondurant started his racing school at Orange County International Raceway, moved it to Ontario Motor Speedway, then Sears Point before moving it Firebird around 1990 or so.
                      You are correct.

                      While recuperating, Bondurant drafted an idea for a high performance driving school borrowing from the experiences he had while training James Garner for Grand Prix. The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving opened in early 1968 at Orange County International Raceway then moved to Ontario and then to Sonoma, where he was an important figure in the track's development. Nissan Motor Company (under Datsun name in the U.S.) was Bondurant's sponsoring partner in his school from its beginning, and continued in that role at the Sonoma Raceway driving school.
                      It was 1989 at then Firebird. I think I read something but Orange County from 1968 is where his school was founded.

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                      • #12
                        While I went through the Barber ladder, I always admired the school system Bob built, and I think his book is a superb basics foundation, along with some memorable stories.

                        Among them...when he had his BRM F1 seat, he was trying to take the pre-chicane Curva Grande flat in practice. He finally did it, and went for it one more time as practice checkered, and he lost it, and went flying through the trees. With no belts, he separated from the car in midair and tumbled into the leaves, minimally injured.(!) When he found the car, it was obvious that if he had stayed with it, he would not have survived. To have lived that life....
                        "Everyone in front of you is cheatin', and everyone behind you sux!"--nonpareil racer T. Kester

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                        • #13
                          It's difficult, even for me, to recall the Bondurant School at OCIR, because I always think of it at Ontario Motor Speedway or Sears Point. Bondurant also had that terrible sports car accident at Watkins Glen that left him in a body cast. Competition Press & Autoweek noted how much more pronounced his limp was when a comely young woman was around

                          I also recall an early 1970s segment on local Los Angeles television where Bondurant and George Follmer were given alcohol and then sent speeding down the pit lane at OMS, where cones and a traffic signal were set up to demonstrate how impaired even professional drivers got under the influence.

                          Only, this demonstration didn't work exactly as the law enforcement folks hoped. Bondurant and Follmer still did remarkably well, so they were given more alcohol and more alcohol, until they were practically unintelligble, laughing uncontrollably and almost fell out of the cars
                          "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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