Top-level, high-performance rider Bob Bondurant dies in Paradise Valley

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) – Bob Bondurant, a former auto racing champion who opened a high performance driving school in 1968 and taught many prominent actors for their movie roles, has passed away. He was 88 years old.

According to his family and the Bondurant Racing School website, Bondurant died Friday in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley. No cause of death has been revealed.

Bondurant has taught stunt driving, competitive driving, police chase driving, evasive driving for drivers and bodyguards, and other skills, according to the website. His school has had more than 500,000 graduates, he said.

Among the celebrities Bondurant learned to drive for their movie roles were Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Nicolas Cage, Robert Wagner, Tim Allen and Christian Bale, according to the website.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Bondurant and his family moved to California when he was 2 years old.

As a teenager, he rode motorcycles on dirt tracks before switching to cars in 1958 and racing for the Shelby American, Ferrari and Eagle teams.

Bondurant won 30 of the 32 Corvette races from 1961 to 1963, and he won the GT class at Le Mans in 1964, co-piloting with fellow American Dan Gurney.

Seriously injured in a 1967 crash at Watkins Glen, New York, Bondurant hatched an idea for a high performance driving school while recovering.

He opened the school in early 1968 at Orange County International Raceway in California, then moved it to Ontario, California, and later to Sonoma, north of San Francisco.

Bondurant moved the driving school to Phoenix following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California.

He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2003.

Bondurant is survived by his wife, Pat, who is President and CEO of Bondurant Racing School. She is committed to continuing the heritage of the school.

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