When it comes to auto racing in the United States, NASCAR definitely makes the top of the list. This exciting form of racing is one of the best supported spectator sports in the country. It is well endorsed, organised and sponsored and many racing drivers focus their careers on this sport. Because it is so well supported and organised, NASCAR racing enjoys good television coverage which further expands its fan base – often to different parts of the globe. Fans are brand-loyal and advertisers have found that one of the best ways to get their sales to pick up is to endorse a popular driver. This has helped provide much of the funding needed in order to help the sport grow to the extent that it has over the past few decades. Fans have emerged in virtually every state and people across the country are familiar with names such as Dale Earnhardt, Richard Todd Bodine, Ricky Craven, Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte. These are just a few of the great NASCAR racing drivers who are covered on this website.
A number of father and son teams have also emerged as fathers have shared their passion with their sons. Drivers such as Ned and Dale Jarrett, and Dale Earnhardt Senior and Junior have each enjoyed considerable success in their own right and shared the prestige of previous generations. Sometimes the family tie to racing stems even deeper – as is the case with the Petty family who have enjoyed three generations of racing greats – Richard, Lee and Kyle who is now carving his own name out in the NASCAR racing scene. Other family ties are not unknown – such as Bobby and Terry Labonte, brothers who have both enjoyed successful racing careers.
In this section on Famous NASCAR Drivers, we have tried to cover the basic details of as many different legendary drivers as possible. From their early life to the pinnacle of success and beyond, you will find that learning about drivers such as Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton can be every bit as interesting as the sport itself. Oftentimes the drivers lived lives that were as explosive as their performance on the track – lives which make for interesting reading. So why not scan the list of names for your favourite NASCAR driver? We welcome you to learn more about these NASCAR driving legends.
NASCAR Racing Drivers
- Al Holbert
- Bill Elliot
- Bobby Allison
- Bobby Labonte
- Bruce McLaren
- Cale Yarborough
- Casey Mears
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Dale Earnhardt Sr.
- Dale Jarrett
- Darrell Waltrip
- Davey Allison
- David Pearson
- Greg Biffle
- Jeff Burton
- Jeff Gordon
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Petty
- Lee Petty
- Mark Donohue
- Michael Waltrip
- Peter Revson
- Richard Petty
- Ricky Craven
- Ricky Rudd
- Ryan Newman
- Swede Savage
- Terry Labonte
- Todd Bodine
- Tony Stewart
- Ward Burton
Robert ‘Bobby’ Alan Labonte was born in 1964 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He started racing at the tender age of five in a quarter midget race in his hometown. Just one year later, he won his first feature race and he started racing in quarter midget events across the US – many of which he won. In 1978 he moved up to go-karts and the whole family moved to North Carolina to support his older brother Terry who had advanced to the Cup series there. Bobby Labonte continued to race and, after competing in a number of different divisions, made his Busch Series debut in 1982. After graduating, he worked at Hagan Racing and continued to race in various divisions until 1985 when he returned to the Busch Series.
In his second season of the Busch Series, Labonte claimed his first pole position and he finished second at Road Atlanta. Just two years later he won twelve of the Caraway Speedway races of 1987 and he took the track championship that year in his own car – one of two. That year proved to be most fruitful for Labonte and he took a number of wins and top-five finishes during the course of the year. In 1990, Labonte competed in the Busch Series full time, driving his own #44 Slim Jim Oldsmobile. Besides doing well on the track, he won the Most Popular Driver award that year. He went on to win his first race at Bristol and then he won again at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. He went on to win the Championship that year and made two Cup starts at the Dover and Michigan International Speedways.
In 1993, Labonte started to drive in the Cup Series. His car was the #22 Maxwell House Ford Thunderbird and he raced for Bill Davis Racing. He had a brilliant year and even took the championship title in the Busch Series that year. His NASCAR career continued to get better and better and he has clenched many more titles and wins over the years. Today Bobby has the prestige of being the only driver to win both the NASCAR Winston Cup championship and the NASCAR Busch Series Championship. Bobby and his brother Terry Labonte are also the only two brothers to have won the championship in NASCAR’s top series.
By the end of 2009, Bobby Labonte had 21 wins to his name, as well as featuring in the Top Five 114 times, and 199 times in the Top Ten. He is currently (2010) driving TRG Motorsports’ # 71, with TaxSlayer as its primary sponsor and Doug Randolph as his crew chief.
Terrance Lee Labonte, a former NASCAR driver, was born on November 16, 1956, in Corpus Christi, Texas. As a youngster Labonte was surrounded by the sport through his father, who would work on his friends racecars as a hobby. Terry is the older brother of Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR and Winston Cup champion, and father of Justin Labonte, Busch Series driver.
At the age of seven, Terry Labonte began racing quarter-midgets and when he was nine he won the national championships. Later as a teenager he moved to local short tracks in a stock car. Terry won track championships on both dirt and asphalt in his hometown, in San Antonio and Houston from 1975 to 1977.
Terry Labonte took part in his first NASCAR race in 1978 at Darlington Raceway. Then in 1979 he competed against Dale Earnhardt, Joe Millikan and Harry Gant for the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. Although he did not win he did finish as one of the top three rookies to get into the top ten in points. His season ended with thirteen top-ten finishes. The following year he took part in the Winston Cup race on Labor Day and won it.
In 1986 Terry announced that he would be leaving the Hagan’s team for the Junior Johnson and Associates. This move proved successful and he earned four pole-position starts as well as winning the Holly Farms 400. Again he moved teams, and this time he joined the #1 Skoal Classic Oldsmobile team under Precision Products Racing.
Labonte joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1994, and in 1996 he broke Richard Petty’s streak for consecutive races. Although he only had two wins that year he won the championship as well. In 2000 his consecutive race wins were broken at 655 due to an inner ear injury at the Pepsi 400, forcing him to miss the Global Crossing @ The Glen and the Brickyard 400.
The year 2003 was Labonte’s first pole win since 2000 and he also made his second career major. Terry Labonte then announced that 2004 would be his last full year on the circuit and that for the next two years he would instead participate on a part-time basis. The last race Labonte took part in, in 2006, was the Dickies 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is a NASCAR racing team which first appeared on the NASCAR circuit in 1991. The team, which is owned by Joe Gibbs, was originally started as a way for Gibbs to spend more time with his family. Gibbs was a man of many talents in his youth and besides owning the team he was also a successful coach for the Washington Redskins for many years. He started his team shortly after meeting up with Don Meredith who went on to become his business partner. The first people to race for the team were Jimmy Johnson and Richard Petty. Since then, JGR has seen the likes of legendary drivers such as Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. Current drivers include Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Coleman, Joey Logano and Matt DiBenedetto.
The team headquarters for Joe Gibbs Racing is located in Huntersville, North Carolina. J.D. Gibbs, Joe’s son, is currently the president of JGR. His brother Coy has raced for the team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and currently coaches football in Washington. Over the years JGR has won the following championships: the Nationwide series twice, three Sprint Cups, one Camping World East Series and 2 NHRA.
J.D. Gibbs is credited with expanding the team since beginning his presidency in 1997. He has managed to increase the one-car operation to a three-car team of Chevrolets which are numbered 20, 18 and 11 and are sponsored by Home Depot, Interstate Batteries, Fed Ex, M&Ms, NOS and Z-Line Designs.
JGR also supports a number of Christian-based charitable organisations – many of which are designed to appeal to youths. The Joe Gibbs Racing team continues to be a favourite amongst fans and will likely continue to operate for years to come.