It’s not unusual to host important people at the U.S. Department of Energy, headquartered in Washington, DC, but we recently had a special treat. Racing legend Bob Bondurant was reunited with an old friend – the Shelby Cobra.
Bondurant’s history with the Shelby Cobra dates back to 1963, when he joined Carrol Shelby’s Ford Cobra racing team. The name Bob Bondurant is synonymous with the Shelby Cobra. He raced the Shelby Cobra CSX2345 through the 1964-1965 racing circuits and locked in more wins than anyone else on Shelby’s team. The CSX2345 had innovative, distinctive features including wider front fender flares, cutback doors, and a tilt-back windshield to reduce drag. With Bondurant in the driver’s seat it was the first and only American car to win the World Manufacturers’ Championship in Europe.
Fifty years after Bondurant’s win, the Shelby Cobra is still an American icon and a shining example of innovation in manufacturing. In 2015, engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Manufacturing Demonstration Facility took on the monumental task of recreating the Shelby Cobra to showcase innovative manufacturing technologies like advanced composites materials and new electric vehicle technologies. From the outside, the replica 50th Anniversary Shelby Cobra (currently sitting at DOE headquarters) looks strikingly similar to the one Bondurant drove to victory in 1965, but a look inside reveals a 3D-printed chassis and state of the art electronic technologies.
A few months ago, Bondurant took the 3D-printed Cobra for a spin at ORNL. Now, the paths of the legendary driver and iconic car serendipitously crossed once again at DOE.
Bondurant spoke about his history with the car and slid into the driver’s seat yet again, looking right at home. He also addressed American competitiveness on the race track and in manufacturing.
Bondurant’s opinion matters to the DOE team, as he remains one of the foremost experts on high performance driving and the Shelby Cobra. The 84 year-old continues to pass on his expertise to other drivers through his racing school and he can still be seen behind the wheel of a Shelby Cobra at select vintage and historical automobile events.
Just two American legends – part of the great story of American innovation and resilience.
Learn more about the 3D-printed Shelby Cobra.