Bob Labonte, father of Terry and Bobby Labonte, has passed away


NASCAR champion and Corpus Christi native Bobby Labonte said Tuesday that his father, Bob Labonte, has died. Bobby Labonte made the announcement on his X account (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) on Tuesday afternoon.

“This week Terry and I lost our father. For many of you who knew him in the garage, you know he was larger than life. To us, he was our father and also a crew chief, a mentor, our biggest fan, our biggest fan at times, we were motivated, and he and our mother dedicated their lives to our racing career and our family. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our father, although we know he is doing much better with your support during this difficult time.”

Bob Labonte was born in 1933 and lived in Corpus Christi, where both Terry, a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, and Bobby Labonte grew up. The family moved to North Carolina in the late 1970s so Terry could pursue a NASCAR career. Both drivers are now in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as Bobby won a NASCAR Cup Series title in 2000 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 1991 and still drives in various series in North Carolina.

According to a 2016 Caller-Times article, Bob moved to the Corpus Christi area in the late 1940s while in the Navy and later began working at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. He discovered a passion for racing as a teenager in Maine and then passed it on to his sons while living in Corpus Christi. Terry said racing in 2016 has always been a family affair.

Terry and Bobby both raced Quarter Midgets, and Terry raced at the old Corpus Christi Speedway and later in Houston and San Antonio before moving to North Carolina.

In a 2016 Caller-Times article, Aaron “Slick” Yeomans, also a Corpus Christi native, a North Carolina transplant and a close friend of the Labonte family, recalled how hard the Labonte family worked, to ensure Terry and Bobby were successful.

Bob Labonte worked on the cars while the boys' mother, Martha, sold tickets at the track.

“There is no one more dedicated to racing and good at it than Bob Labonte,” said Yeomans in 2016, himself a successful racer in asphalt late-model stock cars. “He was often behind the scenes and everyone who knows Terry knows his father. Bob did a lot for him and sacrificed a lot, and so did his mother. She was a part of it and it was a family thing.” “