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Bob Bondurant (1933–2021), racing driver and instructor

by Linnea Crowther

Bob Bondurant was a racing driver who founded the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, where he taught celebrities including Paul Newman (1925–2008) and Tom Cruise.

Racing career

Bondurant got his start racing Corvettes in the Southern California road racing scene. After competing against noted driver and designer Carroll Shelby (1923–2012), he began driving for him, racing on his Ford Cobra team. Bondurant was known for his work in the 1960s on European races including Nurburgring, the Targa Florio, and Le Mans, where he won the GT class in 1964. In 1966, he took fourth place at Monaco. Bondurant ended his racing career in 1967 after a serious accident that injured his back, and broke three ribs as well as both legs and feet.

Driving school

Bondurant founded the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in 1968 for a noteworthy second career. He had experience as a driving instructor, having coached actors in driving for the 1966 movie “Grand Prix,” as well as teaching for Shelby. Among the first students of the Bondurant School were actors Newman and Robert Wagner. Other notable students over the years included James Garner (1928–2014), Clint Eastwood, and Nicolas Cage. Bondurant was a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

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Bondurant’s advice to aspiring racing drivers

“Any time you get in a race car, you need to adjust the seat so you sit perfectly in the car and can feel what it’s doing and saying. That is very important. You also have to concentrate 110 percent. But number one, you absolutely have to have a strong desire to win.” —from a 2013 interview for Motortrend

Tributes to Bob Bondurant

Full obituary: Autoweek

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