The Official High Performance Driving School of Dodge/SRT
Have you been dreaming of driving a Hellcat at full-speed around a track ever since they announced its astounding 707 horsepower? Or how about getting behind the wheel of the new Viper ACR? Our track dreams came true in Arizona, and yours can too thanks to a new partnership that should be welcomed by all fans of horsepower. In 2015, Dodge announced that they were teaming up with the legendary Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving to create “The Official High Performance Driving School of Dodge/SRT.”
Dodge/SRT is producing some amazingly powerful cars, so it only makes sense that their customers would want to learn how to control all of that power. Since the beginning of 2016, Dodge customers who purchase or lease a Dodge/SRT can experience a high-performance driving class with professional instruction and time on the track where they can develop their racing and driving skills in a one-day performance-packed adventure.
We were recently invited to Arizona by our friends at Dodge to get a first-hand experience with the Official Driving School of Dodge/SRT. What you see in the video above is just a taste of the action that Dodge/SRT owners will experience during their free 1-day session at the Bob Bondurant School. Below we’ll detail what is included and our thoughts after spending an amazing day in the desert.
Who is Bob Bondurant?
Bob Bondurant was a very successful race-car driver back in the ’60s until a terrible racing accident brought his competitive career to an end. Arguably his second act has been even more successful, as he started a racing school which counts James Garner, Paul Newman, and Robert Wagner as some of its first students. In the nearly 50 years since, Bob Bondurant has instructed some of the most famous names in racing and movies at his School of High Performance Driving, which has seen more than 500,000 students circle its tracks.
The partnership with Dodge provides nearly 100 SRT vehicles to the Bondurant School, and helps Bob to transition the business to his wife and children.
“In 48 years of being the global expert on driving instruction, I’ve been waiting for the right circumstances to launch the Bondurant Racing School to honor my championship legacy. Finally, that day is here,” said Bob Bondurant, owner, Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. “The Dodge/SRT muscle cars provide me the perfect platform needed to thoroughly teach road racing.”
Dodge SRT® Experience
The all-new SRT® High Performance Driving School is a 1 day experience developed by the Bondurant Racing School specifically for SRT owners and enthusiasts. Those who are eligible for the SRT experience may have friends or family attend with them at a per person cost of $699 (the original valued amount). Dodge SRT owners and Lessees also have the unique opportunity to take advantage of Bondurant’s “Cash-in” offer. This allows Dodge SRT owners and lessees to upgrade to one of their signature Multi-Day programs at a $1,000 discount in lieu of their one day SRT experience.
Along with other invited media, we had a chance to participate in an abbreviated version of the Dodge SRT Experience, which included a series of five activities featuring different Dodge SRT vehicles…
The accident avoidance exercises are designed to help you learn how to react in emergency situations. For this activity we got behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and simulated two emergency situations, a car unexpectedly pulling out in front of us, and an accident occurring right in front of us. We can happily report that we killed no cones during this exercise.
The Skid Car exercise helped us learn how to properly control a car that loses traction and goes into a skid. The vehicle for this activity was a Dodge Charger SRT 392, which had been equipped with a hydraulic system which lifts the car just enough to limit normal traction and simulate driving on wet pavement, snow, ice, or dry pavement. The instructor was in the vehicle with us for this exercise and taught us how to properly steer and power through the skid to essentially drift around the curves and stabilize the vehicle.
Auto-Cross is a miniature road course that is set up with cones, and it’s usually one of our favorite activities at track day. For this exercise we hopped back into the Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and took turns going around the quick course, applying what we had learned from the previous two exercises. The goal is to get through the course as quickly as possible, without hitting any cones. We’re proud to report that we set the low time in our group although we were surprised the Bondurant School didn’t have automated timing equipment to ensure accuracy. For that reason, we’re worried our time may be questioned by other media members.
The next activity is what folks really come for, the amazing experience of driving at speed on a proper race track. We spent a considerable amount of time at the track, in a lead-follow situation which actually helped us to go faster. We followed an Instructor which allowed us to see the proper driving line, braking and acceleration points through the track. We completed laps in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, and Dodge Viper SRT. Our goal was to keep up with the vehicle in front of us and accurately replicate the Instructor’s car through the race course.
As the day came to a close, the professional drivers jumped behind the wheel and offered the chance to ride right-seat as they tore up the track at ludicrous speed. They gave thrilling hot laps in both the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Dodge Viper SRT. Two highlights of this experience came from the Hellcat driver, who performed a 360 degree spin as he exited the last turn on every lap. Apparently this is a maneuver that Bondurant School teaches in some of its more advanced classes. The second highlight was when he switched cars at one point (to let tires and brakes cool) and he held up the black key and shouted out the window, “What’s this bullshit?!” If you aren’t aware, the black key limits the Hellcat to 500 horsepower, while the red key unlocks the full 707!
The partnership between Dodge and the Bondurant School appears to be a perfect match for all parties involved. Bob Bondurant told us that his customers and instructors crave horsepower, and the Dodge SRT vehicles have the most power on the market. So the switch to their vehicles establishes demand at his school for the foreseeable future, and a built-in customer base of SRT buyers. However he also told us that the Dodge vehicles have been much more durable and reliable so far, which is a testament to their quality. The instructors and staff at the school had nothing but positive things to say about the performance of the SRT vehicles, and we experienced it first-hand behind the wheel as well.
Let’s face it, the average driver probably can’t handle 707 horsepower in a Hellcat, or 645 horsepower in a Viper ACR without some practice and instruction. So for SRT customers, this 1-day driving school offer provides them with expert instruction on how to handle the horsepower that they’ve purchased. Probably more importantly, it gives them a safe track experience where they can test the limits of their own skill with the vehicle, so they’re not tempted to do the same on public roads. We’d highly recommend SRT customers complete this one day course before they ever even think of using a red key. However even if you can’t afford an SRT vehicle, at $699 the Dodge SRT Experience would make an amazing gift.
For Dodge/SRT, this partnership not only gives them a place to highlight the performance capabilities of their vehicles to existing customers, it exposes those vehicles to a new audience who attend the world-famous Bondurant School and may become Dodge SRT customers in the future. It’s nearly impossible not to be impressed by the Hellcat, and we have a feeling most folks who spend the day driving one at the track will aspire to buy one. To prove that point, we’ll leave you with the complete 5-minute sizzle real showcasing the Dodge SRT Experience at the Bondurant School. We think you’ll want to buy one just from watching this video.