HomeTop HeadlinesNASCAR Icon Dies at 90

NASCAR Icon Dies at 90

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The NASCAR community is grieving the passing of Bob Labonte, a revered figure in the sport and the father of Hall of Famers Terry and Bobby Labonte.

Bob Labonte, born in 1933 in Rumford, Maine led a life that spanned from the cold winds of New England to the heat of Corpus Christi, Texas, and finally to Trinity, North Carolina—the epicenter of NASCAR. He passed away on April 8, 2024 at 90 years of age.

Labonte’s legacy is deeply embedded in American motorsports. His sons, Terry and Bobby, made their mark in NASCAR history, both being inducted into the esteemed NASCAR Hall of Fame. Their father’s influence was substantial, and his unwavering commitment to their racing ambitions was boundless.

His journey to becoming a patriarch of racing started in an unexpected place. His tenure in the United States Navy led him to Corpus Christi in the late 1940s. There he met his wife Martha and they established a family. Amidst the vast Texas landscape, Bob’s passion for racing ignited—a passion he would instill in his sons.

Terry and Bobby Labonte were introduced to racing at a young age, starting with quarter midgets and progressing to more advanced levels of competition. Bob was not just their father; he served as a crew chief, mentor, and their most passionate fan. Together with Martha, he devoted his life to nurturing Terry and Bobby’s racing careers, a commitment that led to a family move to North Carolina in the late 1970s to pursue the NASCAR dream.

Labonte’s contributions to the sport extended beyond his family ties. He put in considerable effort behind the scenes on his sons’ cars, contributing significantly to their success. Aaron Slick Yeomans, a close family friend and accomplished racer, recalled Bob as someone “dedicated to racing and being good at it.” 

In reflecting on his father’s influence, his son Bobby shared an emotional social media post: “This week, Terry and I have lost our father. For those of you familiar with him in the racing world, you’re aware he was an immense presence. For us, he was not only our father but also our crew chief, guide, most ardent supporter, source of encouragement, and hero.”

NASCAR issued a statement recognizing Labonte’s significant contributions: “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Bob Labonte, the esteemed head of the Labonte family. A celebrated champion owner and crew chief, Bob’s pivotal guidance was instrumental in ushering his sons, Terry and Bobby, into the NASCAR Hall of Fame hallowed halls. His presence will be deeply missed.”

Tributes to Bob Labonte have poured in from across the racing world, including from NASCAR legends like Joe Gibbs and Richard Petty, who recognized his critical role in the Labonte sons’ achievements and contributions to the sport.

Labonte’s story is a compelling demonstration of the power of passion, commitment, and family—a story that will undoubtedly inspire future generations of racers. He leaves behind his wife Martha, his sons Terry and Bobby, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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