Race Car Racer, Auto Race Legend and Civil Rights Activist Bob Bondurant Dies at 88

Bob Bondurant, a race car driver, pioneer in prosthetic racing and civil rights activist, has died. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Bondurant, 88, died peacefully Saturday. A race car driver since his youth, Bondurant…

Bob Bondurant, a race car driver, pioneer in prosthetic racing and civil rights activist, has died.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Bondurant, 88, died peacefully Saturday.

A race car driver since his youth, Bondurant would spend much of his childhood in a wheelchair after undergoing surgery for his polio, but he used his prosthetic legs in rallies where they had limited power.

He used an electrical clapper to light the two-stroke engine, essentially a two-cylinder vehicle.

He gave acting lessons to black Hollywood actors hoping to break into racing.

The Englishman helped longtime Hollywood fixture James Brown win his first race in 1964 and was a legendary figure in the African-American racing community.

On the social activist side, Bondurant was co-founder of the Black Panther Party in the U.S. in the late 1960s and created the “African American Automobile Race Association” to draw minorities into the field.

The first Afar was held in 1967 at Concord Raceway in Concord, Calif. at a time when black people were barred from American auto racing, and events were scheduled on the National Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race calendar.

“All my life I’ve been involved in civil rights, political affairs and races,” Bondurant was quoted by the Press-Enterprise. “We just wanted an American car race.”

Watch the video above for more on Bob Bondurant’s legacy.

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