What is Radford Racing School?

Back in 2019, Bob Bondurant’s High Performance Driving School was sold and later renamed Radford Racing School by Stig Investors – a group of auto enthusiasts, collectors and Bondurant alumni. Since then, several driving and racing fans have commented online about how the school just wouldn’t be the same.

Those folks are right – Radford Racing School isn’t the same as Bondurant High Performance Driving School. It is the same piece of land in Arizona with many of the same instructors teaching the same curriculum and the majority of its student and instructor vehicles are Dodge products, but with the new ownership has come an array of major upgrades to the facility and to the program. This includes the first resurfacing of the main road course in 30 years, renovations to the main building where the students spend most of their non-driving time, renovations to the event center, new covered areas around the main track to help keep students out of the sun, additions to the instructional program offerings and rebranding of everything on the grounds – from the cars and track signage to all of the cool apparel offered in the gift shop and online.

Having attended and loved Bondurant High Performance Driving School back in 2015, I have to agree that it isn’t the same under the Radford name – it is better. The core attributes of the school that made it so popular under Bob Bondurant have been preserved, but the improvements to the grounds lead to a much more enjoyable experience while receiving the same level of world-class performance driving instruction.

The Radford Name

When considering a new name for the school, the ownership group and management wanted a name with some historic automotive background and international reach. The Radford brand had recently been brought back to life by a team of coachbuilders that includes F1 world champion Jenson Button, television personality Ant Anstead and businessman Roger Behle. The Radford brand was initially known for founder Harold Radford building bespoke versions of high-end luxury vehicles from Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin and Land Rover starting back in the 1930s. As Radford’s custom cars gained attention and popularity through the 1950s, his business became the go-to for celebrities, including The Beatles, Peter Sellers, Sir Stirling Moss, James Garner, Steve McQueen, Enzo Ferrari and many others during the 1960s.

Over time, Radford’s coachbuilding business was sold and eventually went out of business, with Harold Radford passing away in 1990.

However, in 2021, a group headed by Button relaunched the Radford brand with the plan of offering a modern-day take on custom coachbuilding. Button and his team reincarnated Radford Motors as a modern lifestyle brand that celebrates automotive design and performance, high-performing driving and racing.

Of course, if Radford Motors is going to build high-performance custom cars, they are going to need a test track and that is where the new owners of what was previously Bondurant High Performance Driving School came into play. The owners of the driving school and the owners of the coachbuilding company met and came to an agreement for the school to become Radford Racing School. While Radford Racing School and Radford Motors are two different entities, owned and run by different people, the coachbuilders use the racing school as a testing facility for their vehicles in addition to marketing Radford Motors apparel in the gift shop.

After becoming the official testing facility of Radford Motors, Radford Racing School also cemented a multi-year deal to be the Official High Performance Driving School of Dodge//SRT®.

“Our sponsorship extension with Radford Racing School builds on Dodge’s longstanding performance-centered philosophy,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer. “The school is the perfect proving ground for our SRT vehicles. We’re excited to build on our relationship with the Radford Racing School team and bring the Dodge//SRT experience to new members of the Brotherhood of Muscle.”

Dodge-Heavy Instructional Programs

As was the case under the previous owners of the facility, Radford Racing School offers a free one-day course to everyone who buys or leases a new Dodge//SRT product, with the option for Super Stock owners to take the one-day drag racing course. When owners come to the school for their program, they spend time driving the Durango SRT 392, the Charger R/T Scat Pack, the Challenger SRT Hellcat and the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. In the drag program, they drive the Challenger SRT Demon. Those same vehicles are also showcased in the school’s High Performance Driving (HPD) program, which is the school’s flagship, and most popular, course – with all other programs being based on the information taught in the HPD classes.

In addition to the High Performance Driving program, Radford Racing School uses the SRT Hellcat Challengers, the Charger Scat Pack and the 392 Durango in various phases of its Grand Prix Road Racing and Advanced Road Racing programs, as well as in the Advanced Teen Driving and Special Ops classes.

Finally, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the marquee vehicle of the Radford Racing School Drag Racing program, which allows students to earn their NHRA license to compete in a 9-second car. That licensing program is the first of its type in the country, joining Radford’s SCCA licensing program via the Grand Prix Racing courses.

“Dodge is in our DNA,” said Mike Kessler, Radford Racing School’s general manager. “There’s simply no better way to describe our relationship. Dodge is an icon of American performance with its line of SRT vehicles, and we couldn’t be more honored to showcase the capabilities of these cars every day on our track. Every student who takes one of our courses is simply blown away by the handling, power and technology that’s engineered into every SRT vehicle. This is the best place on the planet to experience what these cars are made of, on our legendary racetrack and with our world-class team of instructors.”

In the end, while the Bondurant name has been replaced, the track and driving instructional program that Bob Bondurant created decades ago are still a key component of Radford Racing School – with many of the same instructors teaching the theories put into practice by Bob Bondurant. The key differences under the new ownership relate to major renovations around the property and the future program offerings, so if you enjoyed the Bondurant High Performance Driving School, you are likely to love Radford Racing School. The name of the school and the people in charge have changed, but the core attributes of the school’s iconic reputation remain.