Bob BondurantCopyright: Jeff Bloxham/LAT Photographic

Bob Bondurant was an American racing driver and instructor who competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1966.

He was the founder of the Bondurant Racing School, which has trained thousands of drivers from all over the world. He also raced in various sports car and Indy car events, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Phil Hill.

Bob Bondurant – Early Life

Bondurant was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1933, and graduated from Brown University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He started racing in 1952, driving a Corvette in local events.

He soon switched to a Jaguar and won several races in America. In 1954, he was invited to his first international race, the 1000 km of Buenos Aires, where he drove a Ferrari.

He moved to Europe in 1955, and continued to race Ferraris in sports car events, such as the Tourist Trophy and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Bob Bondurant – F1

Bob Bondurant

He also made his first attempt at qualifying for a Formula One race, the Italian Grand Prix, but failed to make the grid.

In 1965, he finally made his F1 debut, driving a North American Racing Team Ferrari at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

He qualified tenth, and finished fourth, scoring his first points. He also raced at the Mexican Grand Prix that year, finishing seventh.

Bondurant continued to race in F1 until 1966, driving for various teams such as Reg Parnell Racing, non-works BRM, and Eagle. He participated in nine World Championship races, and started eight of them. 

Bob scored three points, and achieved a best finish of fourth at Monaco in 1966. 

He also raced in numerous non-Championship races, winning one of them: the 1965 Rand Grand Prix in South Africa.

Bob Bondurant – His Own Car

Bondurant’s main focus, however, was on his own car construction project: Chaparral. He formed a partnership with Hap Sharp, a fellow Texan racer and oilman, and built innovative and experimental cars that featured aerodynamic devices such as wings and spoilers.

He also pioneered the use of automatic transmissions and composite materials in racing cars.

Bondurant’s Chaparrals competed in various series such as the

  • United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC)
  • Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am)
  • World Sportscar Championship (WSC), and the Indy Racing League (IRL).

They won numerous races and championships and became famous for their speed and innovation.

Bondurant’s greatest achievement came in sports car racing, when he won the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans with Phil Hill. They drove a Chaparral 2D for the Ford-backed team of John Wyer.

They beat the factory Ferrari and Porsche entries and became the first American drivers to win the race since Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt in 1967.

Bondurant retired from racing in 1970, after suffering injuries in a crash at Watkins Glen. He founded the Bondurant Racing School in 1968, which has been responsible for training generations of American racing drivers as well as celebrities such as

  • James Garner
  • Paul Newman
  • Tom Cruise
  • Nicholas Cage
  • Christian Bale.


He died in 2021 at the age of 88.

Bob Bondurant was one of the most versatile and accomplished drivers of his generation.

He raced in different disciplines, continents, and eras, and faced some of the greatest drivers in history. He never gave up on his passion for racing, even when he faced challenges and disappointments.

Bob Bondurant is a true legend of motorsport.


By Jonny Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jonny Noble I’m a dedicated F1 Writer – and I’ve Been One for Over Four Decades, I’ve been intimately immersed in the world of Formula One for more than 44 years. That’s longer than most professional commentators can boast! As an independent writer, I offer a unique perspective on the entire F1 landscape, free from biases that might cloud the discussion. We dive deep into the exhilarating, frustrating, and captivating facets of the F1 universe. So, regardless of my amateur status, one thing is undeniable: four decades of dedicated F1 fandom have forged strong opinions worth exploring!