Stuff with a Motor

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

My son and I went out to Phoenix to, among a few other things, spend a couple of days learning how to drive fast (and well) at the Bob Bondurant School for High Performance Driving.  My son (almost 17) took the Advanced Teenage Driving course and I took the Z06 (Corvette) Experience course.  Both were two-day courses that could be extended to three if you wanted more time on the track.  We would have loved to have it, but our schedule didn’t permit it.  The time there was a blast and after a slow start, ended up being better than we had expected.

If you’re interested in such things, Bondurant offers a bunch of “driving” as well as “racing” and “karting” classes.  When you look at their catalog, you wonder how they can offer so many classes.  The secret is, many of them are the same.  For example, my Z06 Experience class was almost identical to my son’s Advanced Teenage Driving class which was exactly the same as the High Performance Driving class that was being offered at the same time.  In some cases, the cars are different and the order that exercises are done in may vary, but the course activities, themselves, don’t vary much (of course the more advanced racing classes are in a completely different category).  The Bondurant school is a huge facility, though, so there is always plenty of space for classes to be doing their respective activities simultaneously.

During the first day at the school, we got off to a slow start.  We didn’t have as much time in the cars as we would have liked or expected.  There is time in the classroom getting to know the basics, but of course, everyone is anxious to go out to the track.  Things pick up in the afternoon and vastly improve in the second day where we spent hours in the cars.  The basic lessons that we worked on in our sessions were the line you drive while on the track – how to make turns, brake and accelerate as fast as possible while driving – and handling emergency situations in your car – panic braking and skidpad control.  There’s pretty much no time on the road outside of classes like this that you get to repeatedly take a car from 65 MPH to zero as fast as possible while experimenting with the handling characteristics of the car you’re driving.  The big open expanse of asphalt at Bondurant makes for a great place to practice what you’ll do when the kid on the Schwinn darts out in front of your car.

Of course, one of the absolute best things about the course is that you get to beat the crap out of someone else’s high performance vehicle.  You might be a bit afraid of pushing your own car into a corner at full speed, but when it’s someone else’s, well, you get the picture.

The school is a lot of fun and you get to learn loads of stuff about how to handle a car.  Having not tried any other schools (there are schools other than Bondurant that teach similar stuff), I can’t compare them.  I can say that our Bondurant experience was very positive, although I can’t imagine doing the school in Phoenix in the heat of the summer – ouch!  My one piece of advice is that unless you’re really interested in driving a specific vehicle, take the cheapest course that meets your needs.  As I said earlier, several of the course are identical and I’m sure that other courses have overlapping activities.

 

An afterthought: If you’re willing to beat up your own vehicle, there are many car and driving clubs throughout the US and I assume, the world.  These clubs go to big parking lots to do autocross or to tracks for faster driving.  They often offer instruction and are safe and fun.  Last fall, I did an event with the New England Region of the Porsche Club of America which was a total blast, and I don’t even own a Porsche.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Wow. That’s something I’ve always wanted to check off my list:
    1. Talladega (check)
    2. Bondurant School
    3. Hot dog eating contest
    4. Louvre

    The ZO6 is a smokin’ hot machine too. It must have tough to keep that much juice on the road. I think the biggest trouble I’d have is not pushing hard enough due to “worry” about hurting the car. Just a psych barrier.

  2. Wow. That’s something I’ve always wanted to check off my list:
    1. Talladega (check)
    2. Bondurant School
    3. Hot dog eating contest
    4. Louvre

    The ZO6 is a smokin’ hot machine too. It must have tough to keep that much juice on the road. I think the biggest trouble I’d have is not pushing hard enough due to “worry” about hurting the car. Just a psych barrier.

  3. Never forget rule #1 of racetracks: Never put a car on a racetrack unless you’re willing to crumple the car into a tiny little ball and throw it off a cliff.

    It’s not a question of if you will total the car, only when. It happens to everyone.

    Bondurant has an excellent program. Your comment about being anxious to get on track is why most SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) driving schools have an on-track session first, to get it out of the way, then it’s back to the classroom!

    Congratulations on taking your 17-year old through the course. That should be required for any teenager before they’re allowed to go on the highway alone.

  4. Never forget rule #1 of racetracks: Never put a car on a racetrack unless you’re willing to crumple the car into a tiny little ball and throw it off a cliff.

    It’s not a question of if you will total the car, only when. It happens to everyone.

    Bondurant has an excellent program. Your comment about being anxious to get on track is why most SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) driving schools have an on-track session first, to get it out of the way, then it’s back to the classroom!

    Congratulations on taking your 17-year old through the course. That should be required for any teenager before they’re allowed to go on the highway alone.

  5. Never forget rule #1 of racetracks: Never put a car on a racetrack unless you’re willing to crumple the car into a tiny little ball and throw it off a cliff.

    It’s not a question of if you will total the car, only when. It happens to everyone.

    Bondurant has an excellent program. Your comment about being anxious to get on track is why most SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) driving schools have an on-track session first, to get it out of the way, then it’s back to the classroom!

    Congratulations on taking your 17-year old through the course. That should be required for any teenager before they’re allowed to go on the highway alone.

  6. Doug,

    I’m glad to see hot dog eating contest is ahead of the Louvre. A man who has his priorities straight!

    You’re right about your head being the biggest issue. We’ve been all taught for so many years to keep the shiny side of the car up – no matter what – that it’s difficult to push the limits even when it’s not your own car. Although, I have to say it is a LOT easier when it’s not your own vehicle. 😉

    I spun out once or twice in the Z06 – bad driving the culprit, not a bad car. It’s pretty easy to overpower the tires, but the really good drivers had no difficulty going WAY faster than me without the car slippin’ and slidin’ too much.

    It was a blast!

  7. Doug,

    I’m glad to see hot dog eating contest is ahead of the Louvre. A man who has his priorities straight!

    You’re right about your head being the biggest issue. We’ve been all taught for so many years to keep the shiny side of the car up – no matter what – that it’s difficult to push the limits even when it’s not your own car. Although, I have to say it is a LOT easier when it’s not your own vehicle. 😉

    I spun out once or twice in the Z06 – bad driving the culprit, not a bad car. It’s pretty easy to overpower the tires, but the really good drivers had no difficulty going WAY faster than me without the car slippin’ and slidin’ too much.

    It was a blast!

  8. Jack,

    I hadn’t heard about the SCCA policy of track time first – very smart.

    I asked my instructor at Bondurant if people bent cars very often. He said that it was pretty common, although bad accidents happened fairly infrequently and mostly by truly stupid drivers in the pro program. On one of their tracks, there’s not much runoff in front of a wall of tires. As I drove by them, I could see the smiles on the tires. I would bet that a lot of bodywork has come out of missing the apex on that turn.

    My 17 year old learned a lot, especially about panic braking. I complete agree that course like the one he took should supplant the garbage requirments that most states in the US have now.

  9. Jack,

    I hadn’t heard about the SCCA policy of track time first – very smart.

    I asked my instructor at Bondurant if people bent cars very often. He said that it was pretty common, although bad accidents happened fairly infrequently and mostly by truly stupid drivers in the pro program. On one of their tracks, there’s not much runoff in front of a wall of tires. As I drove by them, I could see the smiles on the tires. I would bet that a lot of bodywork has come out of missing the apex on that turn.

    My 17 year old learned a lot, especially about panic braking. I complete agree that course like the one he took should supplant the garbage requirments that most states in the US have now.

  10. Massachusetts auto dealers have a program (colloquially called “skid school”) for teenagers where they have autoracing instructors spend a day teaching kids high speed turns and emergency maneuvers.

    We sent my teenagers (unfortunately after my daughter’s second accident) and they got a lot out of the time behind the wheel. The classes were held on the tarmac at Hanscom airforce base, and used the company’s Saabs.

    As a further inducement, graduates get (5? 10?)% off their Mass insurance.

  11. Massachusetts auto dealers have a program (colloquially called “skid school”) for teenagers where they have autoracing instructors spend a day teaching kids high speed turns and emergency maneuvers.

    We sent my teenagers (unfortunately after my daughter’s second accident) and they got a lot out of the time behind the wheel. The classes were held on the tarmac at Hanscom airforce base, and used the company’s Saabs.

    As a further inducement, graduates get (5? 10?)% off their Mass insurance.

  12. I’ve looked into Skid School. It looks like an excellent program. Bondurant (and similar programs) are like Skid School on steroids, though. No break on insurance, though, since part of their message is how to drive faster, safer 😉

  13. I’ve looked into Skid School. It looks like an excellent program. Bondurant (and similar programs) are like Skid School on steroids, though. No break on insurance, though, since part of their message is how to drive faster, safer 😉

  14. I’m taking the advanced teenage driving course & I left my paperwork in maryland! Could anyone let me know what time the 3 day courses starts?

    THANKS

  15. I’m taking the advanced teenage driving course & I left my paperwork in Maryland! Could anyone let me know what time this 3 day course starts?

    THANKS

  16. I’m taking the advanced teenage driving course & I left my paperwork in maryland! Could anyone let me know what time the 3 day courses starts?

    THANKS

  17. I’m taking the advanced teenage driving course & I left my paperwork in Maryland! Could anyone let me know what time this 3 day course starts?

    THANKS

  18. Jenn,

    They have summer and winter starting time – starting earlier in the summer. I don’t know which they’re doing now. We actually started at 7:00am one day and 8:30am on another.

  19. Jenn,

    They have summer and winter starting time – starting earlier in the summer. I don’t know which they’re doing now. We actually started at 7:00am one day and 8:30am on another.

  20. Thanks Will! I guess I’ll just plan on showing up early to make sure I don’t miss it!

    Thanks Again

  21. Thanks Will! I guess I’ll just plan on showing up early to make sure I don’t miss it!

    Thanks Again

  22. Glad to hear you enjoyed your time here!

    You are right that some of our courses curriculum are similar, but only a couple are identical with the difference being the car. In your case, the Z06 Experience is the same curriculum as one of our other courses, but is in the Z06.

    When you have some more time I’d suggest coming back and taking our Post Graduate 3-day course. This is our 4 day Grand Prix Road Racing course, but you skip the first day which is mostly on the skidpad as you mentioned. So you get MAXIMUM track time for 2 days in the Corvette, then another track day in the Formula Bondurant.

    And coming in the Summer is a lot easier when we offer a 25% discount 🙂 Check out the website for details!

  23. Glad to hear you enjoyed your time here!

    You are right that some of our courses curriculum are similar, but only a couple are identical with the difference being the car. In your case, the Z06 Experience is the same curriculum as one of our other courses, but is in the Z06.

    When you have some more time I’d suggest coming back and taking our Post Graduate 3-day course. This is our 4 day Grand Prix Road Racing course, but you skip the first day which is mostly on the skidpad as you mentioned. So you get MAXIMUM track time for 2 days in the Corvette, then another track day in the Formula Bondurant.

    And coming in the Summer is a lot easier when we offer a 25% discount 🙂 Check out the website for details!

  24. I have paticipated in three courses at the Boundurant School.
    The first was a three day police pursuit Cours that bob Taught. this was about 1978.
    the second sourse was a Law enforcement instructors course
    around 1979 or 80.
    The third was the anti- kidnapping anti-terrorist course.
    All were great, but i must say the police pursuit course was my favorite, and I still have home movies of some of the action
    I had a 1973 Dodge Polara with the 440 magnum engine.
    Bob had a great 6.9 Mercedes I think it was a new 79, amd the fastest sedan in the world for that model year.
    My Dodge Polara out performed the Mercedes except inn the braking dept.
    These courses were all taken in Sonoma, Calif.
    The track then was named Sears Point International Raceway
    Bob deserves much credit for having the foresight for such an endeavor.
    I shall never forget these great courses or him and his
    the manner that he conducted himself at all times
    IT WAS GREATTTTT.
    I later graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Driver training instructors program which was also very good but very different.
    Thanks Bob for all the great memories.
    Rex Sagle Houston. Tx.

  25. I have paticipated in three courses at the Boundurant School.
    The first was a three day police pursuit Cours that bob Taught. this was about 1978.
    the second sourse was a Law enforcement instructors course
    around 1979 or 80.
    The third was the anti- kidnapping anti-terrorist course.
    All were great, but i must say the police pursuit course was my favorite, and I still have home movies of some of the action
    I had a 1973 Dodge Polara with the 440 magnum engine.
    Bob had a great 6.9 Mercedes I think it was a new 79, amd the fastest sedan in the world for that model year.
    My Dodge Polara out performed the Mercedes except inn the braking dept.
    These courses were all taken in Sonoma, Calif.
    The track then was named Sears Point International Raceway
    Bob deserves much credit for having the foresight for such an endeavor.
    I shall never forget these great courses or him and his
    the manner that he conducted himself at all times
    IT WAS GREATTTTT.
    I later graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Driver training instructors program which was also very good but very different.
    Thanks Bob for all the great memories.
    Rex Sagle Houston. Tx.

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