Officials say future of Bondurant school is bright despite bankruptcy

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo

The future of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving is bright despite its ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, according to an official working to stabilize the facility’s financial problems.

“I think the future of the company is actually really pretty bright,” Timothy Shaffer, the school’s chief restructuring officer, said in an interview with the Journal. “We’re in the process of going through and getting some lending in place that’s going to preserve some of our capital and our liquidity, and I think the school is going to be just fine.”

Shaffer said he was retained by school owners Bob and Pat Bondurant one day after the facility filed for bankruptcy in early October. He compared his role to that of an emergency room doctor, in that he bandages the business before setting it back on its course.

In relative terms, the school doesn’t need that much work to be back on its feet, Shaffer said.

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo

“There are a lot of great, great, great things about the Bondurant School,” he said. “There’s a lot of value. People in my industry, we think in terms of value. There’s a 50-year legacy. There’s still an affiliation with Bob Bondurant. There’s still a Bob Bondurant method of teaching and instruction that makes his school unique from other types of driving schools.

“There’s a facility — it’s a great facility. That particular track has some characteristics you just don’t find in other types of racing schools and other facilities.”

Shaffer said the key to retaining that value is letting people know the school is still open despite a brief closure caused by an employee walkout in November.

“We are open for business, we are conducting classes,” he said.

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo

A majority of the school’s employees — including the Bondurants’ son, Jason, who was the facility’s vice president — walked out after they claimed they had experienced a hostile work environment and were worried they would not be getting paid for their work.

Shaffer said he was unaware of what happened in the lead up to the walkout but that the spread of information could have been handled better. He also pointed out the school never missed a payroll.

“It’s just an unfortunate incident. I see a lot of rumor and conjecture that people took as gospel and things just kind of ramped up and spun out of control,” he said, adding that he met with employees after he was retained.

“I listened to their concerns,” he said. “I told them as candidly as I know how to speak that there was a lot of misinformation and a lot of the assumptions they based their actions on were not realistic assumptions and they chose to do what they wanted to do. There clearly are some issues there. It does not me any good, it does not do the company any good to look into the past. It’s about looking into the future.”

The Bondurants took on a consulting role after Shaffer was retained. He said he is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the school to prevent the Bondurants from getting overwhelmed, which can happen to business owners unfamiliar with the bankruptcy process.

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving photo

“I consult with Pat and Bob on a daily basis,” he said. “I keep them informed. They have some valuable institutional knowledge that I would be just an absolute fool to ignore, but I’m essentially in there running the show, making the decisions and Pat is doing what Pat needs to do, which, essentially, is to take care of Bob.

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