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Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Part 1

We call it serendipity — which I experienced this week when I went out, camera in hand, to photograph a small Native American museum located on the Gila Indian Reservation just south of my home on the edge of Phoenix. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Tuesdays, the day I chose to visit.

The reservation is home to a resort, casino (naturally), one of the best restaurants in Arizona, two 18-hole golf courses (Whirlwind Cattail and Devil's Claw) and the aforementioned museum. It is also home to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. For some reason, I never think of the racing school except when I am playing golf at Whirlwind (where I play frequently) due to the sounds of the race cars running their laps off in the distance. I drove past the school and realized that it could be the subject of LAHP. One U-turn later, I was entering their facility to see if they would allow me to take some photos.

They could not have been more gracious — allowing me to go anywhere on the facility and even providing a tour guide to get me started. He suggested starting at the small museum which contains mementos of Bob Bondurant's racing career. Serendipity!

You might ask, "Who is Bob Bondurant?" Not being a racing enthusiast myself, I asked the same question. To summarize, he is an American former racecar driver who raced for Shelby American, Ferrari and Eagle teams. He is now 80 years old and obviously no longer races competitively.


He started in his teens racing an Indian motorcycle on dirt tracks.

Eventually he switched to race cars and began competing in vehicles such as this Datsun 240Z.

In 1963, he joined the Carroll Shelby Ford Cobra team. He won his first race at the Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado and his racing career was then on a fast track.

On display here is a Cobra Mustang.

This is a Shelby Cobra and, in my humble opinion, one fine-looking racing machine.

Just imagine sitting in the cockpit racing around the track, pushing both the car and your driving skill to the limits.

Well, you no longer have to use your imagination since the Bondurant school can provide the vehicles, the track and the instruction to live your dream.

Perhaps, not in this Ford GT40, but in a new Corvette or other fine vehicle.

Also on display are trophies from Bob Bondurant's racing career — I suspect this is a subset of the total.

Immediately adjacent to the museum is the garage. Given the number of automobiles in their stable plus the use and abuse that they experience, these vehicles need a place to get fixed up quickly for the next racer.

The Bondurant School’s fleet of Camaros are powered by Chevrolet’s L99-code LS3, good for 426 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission. To this solid basic package, they have added Eibach springs and anti-roll bars, a Centerforce clutch (when the factory-supplied clutch requires replacement), plus PFC brake pads and SRF brake fluid.

If you thought Corvettes and Camaros were the ultimate track experience, one lap in a Bondurant Formula Mazda will have you reconsidering. This purpose-built, open-wheel race car is a precision-tooled machine — steering is quicker and unassisted, suspension is race-ready, the short shift and pedal movements require quick action from your extremities. It looks like this bay in the garage is preparing for an upcoming class — hurry and sign up.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com