BOB BONDURANT, CHAMPIONSHIP COBRA RACER, DRIVING SCHOOL PIONEER, RECEIVES RRDC'S PHIL HILL AWARD Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Bob Boundurant quickly advanced from the ranks of a Morgan +4 driver in California Sports Car Club races on abandoned airport...
BOB BONDURANT, CHAMPIONSHIP COBRA RACER, DRIVING SCHOOL PIONEER, RECEIVES RRDC'S PHIL HILL AWARD
Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Bob Boundurant quickly advanced from the ranks of a Morgan +4 driver in California Sports Car Club races on abandoned airport circuits to bringing to fruition Cobra builder Carroll Shelby's wish to defeat Ferrari.
In 1965, Bondurant's second season driving for Shelby, he achieved the goal by soundly defeating Ferrari for the FIA's Manufacturers' Championship in international GT racing for large-engined sports cars.
En route to the title, Bondurant drove Cobras and Ford GT-40s to seven wins in the season's 10 races and finished fourth in the Drivers' Championship points.
Equally as important, Bondurant formed the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in 1968, the first school of its kind in the U.S.
Tonight, to honor both aspects of Bondurant's life in racing, he was presented with the Road Racing Drivers Club's Phil Hill Award at the RRDC's annual dinner held at the Daytona Experience. The award was presented by RRDC President Bobby Rahal, co-winner of the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Phil Hill, in 1961, became the first American to win the Formula 1 World Championship. Among his international wins is the 1964 Daytona 2000Km race, precursor to the Rolex 24. Hill and Bondurant were frequent opponents.
"I have enjoyed 40 years of teaching students from around the world, and tonight I am honored to be recognized by my peers. Thank you," Bondurant said.
Armed with three Datsuns, a Can-Am Lola and a Formula Vee, Bondurant opened the Bondurant School at Orange County Raceway. It was the nation's first major private program to teach racing skills to people from any walk of life how to become a competent driver either on the race track or a safer one on the highway.
"Bob changed the matrix of how to become a race car driver," Rahal noted. "Before he had this brilliant idea, the only way you could race with the SCCA was to go through two of their own weekend schools and be graded by other licensed drivers. Bob's professional instructors have trained drivers who became national champions, law enforcement officers, housewives and regular citizens who may never put on a helmet and strap in for the real thing, but want to experience what life in the fast lane is like."
Over 250,000 men and women have since received from Bondurant and his instructors a hands-on education in a variety of racing disciplines, but in 1968, his fourth and fifth students were actors Paul Newman and Robert Wagner, training for the movie "Winning."
Since 1990, the Bondurant School has had a permanent home at Firebird Raceway south of Phoenix. Its former five-car fleet of vehicles now exceeds 200 performance street cars, race cars and go karts.
During Bondurant's Cobra years of 1964-65, his class or overall race wins ran the sport's gamut from Le Mans to Sebring to the ultra-fast Monza and Spa circuits, to the Rossfeld and Freiburg Hill Climbs in Europe.
He raced four times in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a best finish of second place in 1965, sharing a Ford GT-40 with the late Richie Ginther.