Did I tell you how hot it is here in Phoenix? When it is 110 degrees in the shade – and there is no shade – its hot. Dry heat or not. If you ever want ot feel how nice dry heat is just stick your head in an oven.
Its my own fault though. I knew better. I have been here on business several times before and often in the summer. When I head for Los Angeles tomorrow it will be to considerably cooler weather.
When I arrived here yesterday I made sure that my first stop was at the Firebird Race Track and the Bondurant School. These days there are a lot of high performance driving schools out there, but none with the reputation of Bob Bondurant. They have classes to fit every need or desire. From hot laps to shifter carts, a grand prix road racing course, executive protection, Z06 Corvette experience, highway survival training, and now an advance teenage driving course. Those are just a few alternatives and the school can configure team building sessions and other programs for groups from 20 to 2000.
I hadn’t given them any notice, but their Director of Sales and Marketing, Dan Pitts, took the time to give me a walking tour and answer my questions.
The school is phasing out the last of the Mustangs and bringing in a crop of new GM cars like the Cadillac and Corvette.
It also has open wheeled cars for the advanced courses. The yellow car is one they are evaluating as a potential replacement. A car used to teach with not only has to have the performance and capabilities to provide a learning environment, it has to be practical to maintain and service as it will be used to teach many students.
All the cars are kept in top mechanical shape and keep the dozens of technicians busy two shifts a day.
Dan has been with the school for at least four months. Like all the staff, he has taken the two day high performance driving class and looks forward to taking more advanced classes. I asked him if he had previous racing experiences that lead him to join the Bondurant team. He explained that he always had a love of cars and racing but that this was the first time he was able to actually get on a race track. You could tell that as far as he was concerned he had the best job in the world and I can’t say that I blame him.
Penske Racing Museum
Rodger Penske is a legend in racing. He also has a reputation for knowing how to run a business, practically any business.
In Scottsdale, AZ he has several car dealerships and as part of the dealerships he has provided a racing museum that is open to the public for no charge.
Rodger was a driver for Chaparral Cars until he retired as a driver and became the team manager. Rodger went on to manage his own racing teams as well as several business ventures.
Perhaps on of the best partnerships in racing was Rodger Penske and Mark Donahue. Mark was not only an incredible driver, he was trained as an engineer. This was a winning combination in itself, but when combined with the team management skills of Rodger it was almost unbeatable.
The Penske teams were meticulous and extremely well prepared. They were so adept at creative engineering that it was referred to as an “unfair advantage”. There was nothing unfair about it, they did their homework and had a great team of folks that knew how to think outside of the box.