Bob Bondurant 1933-2021

The motor sport all-rounder, Grand Prix film adviser and renowned instructor dies at 88

Bob Bondurant in CanAm McLaren

In a McLaren at Watkins Glen in 1967 – he’d later crash at 150mph

Legendary racing school founder Bob Bondurant died in November at the age of 88 after a career packed with variety. The school, which claims to have trained 500,000 people to race, is his widest legacy, but Bondurant also reached Hollywood, instructing such as James Garner and Yves Montand while technical adviser for the 1966 film Grand Prix.

Though he started in the 1950s on dirt bikes, Bondurant quickly became a dominant Corvette racer and in 1963 joined Shelby American, winning the 1964 GT class at Le Mans in a Cobra coupé with Dan Gurney and contributing to the 1965 FIA GT title. He raced Ford, Porsche and privateer Ferrari sports cars at Targa Florio, Nürburgring, Spa and Daytona, with Formula 1 drives in a works Ferrari at Watkins Glen and privateer BRM and Lotus. His best F1 result was fourth – but last – at Monaco in ’66, while the same year in the Belgian GP he and Graham Hill pulled Jackie Stewart from his overturned petrol-soaked machine.

Bob Bondurant at Le Mans in 1964

Victory in the GT category at Le Mans in 1964, driving for Shelby

Bob Bondurant in the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix

Fourth place at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix was Bob Bondurant’s F1 zenith.

In 1967, recuperating from a major crash at Watkins Glen in a Can-Am McLaren, he conceived the idea of his racing school. Opened in 1968, the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving became the world’s largest, covering stunt and evasive driving as well as instructing celebrities including Paul Newman, Robert Wagner, Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise.

Remembered as a fierce and tough competitor, Bondurant only retired from racing aged 79 and was still involved with the school into his eighties. He is survived by his wife Pat.