More success would follow, culminating in a class win at Le Mans ’64 when partnered with Dan Gurney. He also came out on top in the 1965 World Sportscar Championship, in a category that was dominated by Ferrari 250 GTOs.
“Bob was right up there with the best, and our results showed it,” Gurney said.
That same year he moved into grand prix racing, but had already had a hair-raising brush with F1 when testing an ATS at Monza.
“By the end of an hour, I’d done it several times, and got the ‘In’ signal,” he told Nigel Roebuck in 1999. “I thought, ‘Well, who knows when I’ll be back here? I’m going to do it one more time’. As I went through a half shaft broke. I was doing about 150mph, and then the axle broke at the left rear. I went through the hedge backwards, and remember thinking, ‘Bondurant, you just wrote yourself off…’
The American survived relatively unscathed despite being thrown from his car, and was invited to drive a works Ferrari at the Watkins Glen round in 1965 after a typically Godfather-esque meeting with Enzo – he finished ninth on his F1 debut.
The next year Bondurant scored a gig in 1966 which possibly set him on the path to his racing school destiny, as he was a technical advisor on the Grand Prix film, training lead star James Garner to drive an F1 car.