Your Full Guide to the Bondurant Racing School
Founded by racing ace Bob Bondurant, this driving/racing school will take you to your A game when it comes mastering any vehicleby Tudor Rus, on LISTEN 07:59
It goes without saying that driving is one of the quintessential aspects of a gearhead’s life. After all, for some of us, it was the spark that ignited the love for cars of all shapes and sizes. So we’re aiming to continue our driving/racing school guides with perhaps America’s most famous institution. Ladies and gents, here’s all you need to know about the Bondurant Racing School.
How did the Bondurant Racing School came to life, anyway?
We can’t really talk about the Bondurant Racing School without mentioning its founder. Robert "Bob" Bondurant made his racing debut riding Indian bikes on dirt ovals, before passing on to sports car racing behind the wheel of a Morgan and then in a Chevy Corvette.
In 1963, Bob Bondurant was signed by the Carroll Shelby Ford Cobra team. One year later, he travels to Europe, where he races the new 289 FIA Cobra at Targa Florio, Spa, and Nurburgring. His most famous victory, however, happened at Le Mans in the GT Class, behind the wheel of Shelby’s new Cobra Daytona Coupe, with Dan Gurney as co-driver. In 1965, Bob Bondurant takes the wheel of a Ferrari Formula 1 race car during the US Grand Prix.
While driving a McLaren at Watkins Glen, the car’s steering arm fails at around 150 mph, which leads to the car flipping eight times. Bondurant sustained back injuries as well as rib, leg, and foot fractures. While recovering from the crash, Bob Bondurant had the idea to start a performance driving school where he could share his experience and know-how with regular people looking to improve their driving skills. During his career, Bob Bondurant passed his driving knowledge on to actors like James Garner, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Wagner, Tim Allen, Tom Cruise, and Nicholas Cage.
Bondurant Racing School - The Essentials
The Bondurant Racing School was founded back in 1968. It is currently owned and operated by Stig Investments (who purchased the school in May 2019) around a 100-acre racing facility that revolves around a 3-mile track that packs 26 turns and can be multi-configured in 15 different ways. All in all, the Bondurant Racing School uses over 100 race-ready vehicles in all shapes and sizes (sedans, SUVs, coupes, and open-wheel formula cars), most of which are provided by the main sponsor Dodge/SRT.
Now, the track was designed by Bob Bondurant himself and is aimed at challenging both rookies and pros. Besides the track, the facilities also include a throttle steer circle, as well as designated slalom and autocross areas. What’s more, support vehicles include the likes of Dodge Challenger and Charger but also Hellcats and Vipers, including Viper ACR models.
|Engine displacement||8.4 liters overhead-valve|
|Gearbox||Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual|
|Top speed||193 mph (estimate)|
Bondurant Racing School - The Programs
The Bondurant Racing School has a varied offer of courses and programs, which we are going to detail below.
High Performance Driving
High-Performance Driving is aimed at making a mediocre driver better. Sure, if you’re already a great driver, a little more practice can’t do any harm, so here’s what you need to know. For starters, you’ll be sitting behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Secondly, you’ll cover autocross, slalom, and accident avoidance modules. You can opt for one, two, or three days, according to your needs or desire. You’ll also learn about: hand, foot, and seating position, tire contact patch, understeer, oversteer, throttle steer, skid control, and weight transfer.
For this one, you’ll get behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat or, if you opt for the four-day course, you’ll be handed a Formula Mazda open-wheel race car. Bondurant says that beginners are allowed to join this program, but they must be proficient with a manual transmission, as 80% of the course takes place on the facility’s skill pads and on the 1.6-mile track. The rest is dedicated to classroom mini-lectures that cover the theoretical side of performance driving.
|Cylinder arrangement||90-degree V-8|
|Gearbox||Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual or TorqueFlight 8-speed auto|
Within the course, you’ll be able to perfect a couple of techniques such as heel & toe downshifting, braking with ABS and without ABS, avoiding accidents, and car control methods in general. Towards the end of the program (day 3 & 4), you’ll have the chance to actually race and hone your skills in a real-life scenario on the track.
Advanced Road Racing Program
In case you’re not willing to mingle with the rookies, you can opt for one of the two modules offered by the Bondurant Advanced Road Racing Program: Advanced Road Racing and Advanced Formula Car Racing.
The former is geared for actual racers but can also be accessed if you’ve completed the four-day Racing Program. In terms of what you’ll get, expect personalized instruction, real-world race scenarios and around five hours of seat time per day in a Dodge Hellcat. Now, in order to qualify for the Advanced Road Racing module you must fulfil the following conditions:
- have attended the Bondurant four-day GPR class in the last twelve months
- have attended a performance driving school class equal to Bondurant’s four-day GPR with a grade that’s 3.5 or higher
- have been awarded a competition racing licence in SCCA, IMSA, FIA, NASCAR, NASA, PC
The other module is suggestively called Advanced Formula Mazda Racing for a simple reason - you’ll be driving a Bondurant Formula Mazda race car for around five hours each day while being immersed in a full motorsport environment. Eligible participants must have completed the Bondurant GPR course or other accredited racing schools.
Advanced Teen Driving
Here’s something we find extremely useful in terms of road manners and road skills. Many teens can’t wait to get their driving license, which for some parents might be an extra reason to worry. But getting a teenager as early as possible into a driving program also means that you’re solidifying a base which would serve him or her well over the years, not to mention provide a foundation for a confident and safe driving style.
To be eligible for the course, participants must possess a valid driver’s license and at least six months of actual driving. The car fleet available for the Advanced Teen Driving involves Fiat 124 Spider Abarth and Fiat 500 Abarth models. The list of exercises includes skid control, on-track driving, and proper line (apex) techniques, accident avoidance, emergency lane changes, braking distance, as well as one-on-one guidance behind the wheel.
Drag Racing Program
A novelty from the Bondurant Racing School, the Drag Racing Program will introduce you to the world of drag racing with the help of Dodge’s Challenger SRT Demon Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Widebody. In the coming months, Bondurant will expand the support vehicle lineup with the SRT Hellcat Redeye and Scat Pack 1320 models.
The course price is $1,999 per driver (applicable to non-SRT owners), for maximum 16 participants. In terms of the course structure, you should know it starts with a 40-minute drivers’ meeting where basic performance racing skills will be presented and discussed. A second, 30-minute drivers’ meeting will take place on the drag racing techniques topic. This is followed by on-track instruction, with each participant getting six single-lane runs plus a wet-box burnout, stage, and 1/8 mile-pass.
Last but not least, the Bondurant Racing School is also offering a Military & Executive Protection program. It has been doing that for 30 years, with a focus on both training drivers but also teaching them how to spot a dangerous situation and react as quick as possible.
Through this course, the academy supports military and law enforcement, as well as special forces. Although prices are not provided, Bondurant says it offers two to four days worth of Driver Development Programs, as well as the possibility to tailor a particular module according to your needs. Some of the aspects covered by this program includes pit manoeuvres, barricade breaching, reverse 180-degree turns, and driving on unfamiliar roads.