Revered NASCAR Figure Dead at 90

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

Bob Labonte, who was born in 1933 in Rumford, Maine, lived a life that spanned from the cold climes of New England to the warm racetracks of Corpus Christi, Texas, and eventually, to the hub of NASCAR in Trinity, North Carolina. He passed away on April 8, 2024, aged 90.

The contribution of Labonte to American motorsports is significant. His sons, Terry and Bobby, have etched their names into NASCAR’s annals, both earning spots in the esteemed NASCAR Hall of Fame. Their impressive milestones on the track are deeply linked to their father’s profound influence and relentless commitment to their racing aspirations.

Labonte’s journey to becoming a key figure in racing began in an unexpected place. His time in the United States Navy led him to Corpus Christi in the late 1940s. Here, he met his future wife, Martha, and developed a passion for racing that he would later pass on to his sons.

Terry and Bobby Labonte were introduced to the world of racing from a young age, starting with quarter midgets and advancing to higher tiers of competition. Bob Labonte served not only as their father but also as a crew chief, mentor, and their greatest supporter. In their pursuit of NASCAR success, the family relocated to North Carolina in the late 1970s.

Labonte’s impact on the sport extended beyond his family. His tireless work on his sons’ vehicles and his pivotal role behind the scenes were key to their triumphs. Aaron Slick Yeomans, a close family friend and successful racer himself, described Bob as someone who was “dedicated to racing and being good at it.”

Bobby Labonte, reflecting on his father’s influence, shared a heartfelt tribute on social media: “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, in response to the death of Bob Labonte, issued a statement: “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.”

Renowned figures in racing, such as Joe Gibbs and Richard Petty, have also paid tribute to Labonte, acknowledging his critical role in the success of his sons and his contributions to NASCAR.

Bob Labonte’s legacy is a powerful example of passion, dedication, and family values, inspiring future generations of racers. He is survived by his wife Martha, his sons Terry and Bobby, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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