Champion car driver, instructor Bondurant dies


PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Bob Bondurant, a former champion race car driver who opened a high-performance driving school in 1968 and taught numerous A-list actors for their movie roles, has died. He was 88.

According to his family and the Bondurant Racing School website, Bondurant died Friday in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley. No cause of death was released.

Bondurant taught stunt driving, competition driving, police pursuit driving, evasive driving for chauffeurs and bodyguards, plus other skills, according to the website. His school has had over 500,000 graduates, it said.

Among the celebrities Bondurant instructed in road course driving for their movie roles were Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Nicolas Cage, Robert Wagner, Tim Allen and Christian Bale, according to the website.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Bondurant and his family moved to California when he was 2.

He raced motorcycles on dirt tracks as a teenager before switching to cars in 1958 and racing for the Shelby American, Ferrari and Eagle teams.

Bondurant won 30 of 32 races in Corvettes from 1961 to 1963, and he won the GT class at Le Mans in 1964, co-driving with fellow American Dan Gurney.

Badly injured in a 1967 crash at the racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, Bondurant drafted an idea for a high-performance driving school while recuperating.

He opened the school in early 1968 at California’s Orange County International Raceway, then moved it to Ontario, California, and later Sonoma, north of San Francisco.

Bondurant relocated the driving school to Phoenix following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California.

He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2003.

Bondurant is survived by his wife, Pat, who is president and CEO of the Bondurant Racing School. She vows to continue the legacy of the school.

“Bob Bondurant has had a worldwide impact on the motorsports industry, and his legacy will live on eternally as the Bondurant Racing School moves forward into the future,” Phoenix Raceway President Julie Giese said in a statement.

Funeral plans were not immediately available Sunday.

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