Bob Bondurant celebrates 50 year anniversary of historic win

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By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The Bondurant School of High Performance Driving has graduated more than 500,000 drivers and serves as a unique draw for the Valley. However, there would be no racing school if not for Bob Bondurant himself. This summer is the 50th anniversary of the biggest victory in Bondurant's storied racing career.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest endurance race in the world. It covers 349 laps and 2,900 miles. 50 years ago, Bob Bondurant took home a victory at Le Mans that made history.

Bondurant won the race's GT class in 1964, but the feat goes well beyond a major victory. Bondurant drove Shelby's Cobra Daytona Coupe to the win, marking the first time in decades someone had won the race in anything but a Ferrari.

"As an American, beating Ferrari, that was cool," Bondurant said. "That was really great."

Bondurant and fellow driver Dan Gurney paired up to win the race, which is now tackled in groups of 4 rather than pairs. Bondurant and Gurney also set a lap record in the process, which was a new experience for the now experienced Bondurant.

"We ended up running 197 miles per hour throughout the whole race," Bondurant said. "I had never gone that fast."

So, while Bob Bondurant may have changed driving school and what makes a good Father's Day gift with his racing school in Arizona, he changed the very sport of racing one year in Le Mans.

50 years ago, driving at 197 miles per hour in an American car, Bondurant and the Cobra team made their mark on history.