Many of you have wondered, and some have asked me, what has become of Bob Bondurant and his famous high performance driving and racing school. So just below is a very recent press release from the school, which updates the story. Bondurant himself told me the story of how, while in hospital recovering from a pretty serious racing accident, he laid awake many nights, dreaming and planning of how to organize and open his own racing school. The Bondurant school has employed several brands of cars in its various classes, and been based at several race tracks over time. The now 83 year old “Bondo” has been in poor health for the last some years, and I’m guessing he and his wonderful wife Pat could just no longer continue to run and expand the business, so its been sold to a new group which is rethinking and rebranding the entire deal. He was a very successful championship winning road racer, best known for his exploits with Shelby American, but just a superb all rounder that was fast in anything he drove. In a way this all makes me a bit sad — however time never stops passing — but I hope the school survives in this new form, and I wish Pat and Bob my very best….MS
The storied Bondurant High Performance Driving School is writing a new chapter. After purchasing the school in May 2019, completing an extensive multi-million-dollar renovation and revamping its curriculum, the school’s owners – a small group of auto enthusiasts, collectors and graduates of the school – have renamed the facility the Radford Racing School.
The renaming marks the school’s new association with the team behind the Radford brand, a name legendary among auto enthusiasts for its coachbuilding legacy. That team includes next-generation owners English television celebrity Ant Anstead, F1 champion Jenson Button, car designer Mark Stubbs, and business partner Roger Behle. The four are reviving the Radford story into a modern lifestyle brand that celebrates auto design and performance, high-performing driving and racing.
By taking on a heritage brand with forward momentum, owners of the school expect to continue to evolve it into an experience destination for international auto enthusiasts, everyday drivers, new drivers, racers, celebrities, and influencers.
The Radford Racing School is the Official High Performance Driving School of Dodge//SRT. Continuing as the school’s primary sponsors, Dodge//SRT provides a fleet of vehicles for driving instruction. The drag racing course features the 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, while other high-performance vehicles, including the Challenger SRT Hellcat, Charger SRT Hellcat and Durango SRT are just some of the options available for the on-track performance driving experience.
New Dodge//SRT owners are among the thousands of students who come to the school annually to learn how to achieve optimum performance of high-performance vehicles in a controlled environment.
In addition to the Dodge//SRT vehicles, the school features Ligier JS F4 open wheel vehicles, vintage Dodge Vipers, go karts, and cars used in its special forces, police, and military training. The Radford team will now build and test vehicles on the Radford Racing School track.
“We’ve rapidly progressed in enhancing and reintroducing this facility as the world’s premier experience for the next generation of drivers,” said Mike Kessler, general manager at the school, who notes recent changes toward that goal:
- Renovation and expansion, including the first resurfacing of the main track in 30 years, enhancements to the event center, visitor center, gift shop, student lounge, classrooms, skills pad and eagle’s nest viewing platform
- Diversification of the course offering, by adding open wheel and drag racing courses, with new formula racing courses in development
- Breaking new ground as the first school of its kind to offer professional drag racing instruction to the public and the chance to earn an NHRA Drag License
“To cap off these moves that broaden the appeal of the school while retaining its legendary reputation, we’re announcing the name change,” said Kessler. He adds the new brand retains the school’s nod to auto legends. Incorporating racing into the moniker represents the brand’s extension into the racing world, positioning the facility as a place for speed, professional race car instruction and experiences, in addition to world-class driving instruction.
“The racetrack is the perfect environment for building and testing Radford-built cars,” said Anstead.
“For a car to be truly great, it has to feel as good as it looks. It has to possess both style and substance in equal measures, and you can only achieve both through extensive testing and improvement and the track is the perfect place for this,” said Button.
The Radford brand and school teams will collaborate on expanding the Radford brand into experiences, merchandise, branded content (a TV show is in the works), associations with celebrities and influencers, and more.
About Radford Racing School
Founded in 1968, the Radford Racing School, located in Chandler, Ariz., is the only purpose-built driver training facility for performance enthusiasts and the largest driver training center of its kind in the world. It is also the Official High Performance Driving School of Dodge//SRT. The school maintains over 80 race-prepared vehicles, sedans, SUVs, and open wheel formula cars. For more information about the school, visit RadfordRacingSchool.com or call (480) 403-7600.
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Legends, Heroes and Friends: from left, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Bob Bondurant, Parnelli Jones, and John Morton. Only the last four are still with us.