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.
Auto Racing, like many professional sports, is also a business, and like all businesses certain financial factors need to be taken into account for the good of the sport. Number one is the fans – those who pay for race tickets and merchandise. Fans drive the sport of auto racing, literally. If auto racing events are well-attended and race merchandise is flowing off the store shelves, then the various auto racing organizing bodies such as NASCAR, the Indy Racing League and F1 have a lot of money with which to advertise and promote their events.
Advertising and promotion are directly related to the second factor – sponsorship. Operating an auto racing team is a very expensive proposition, and the costs can run into the millions of dollars. Formula One is the most expensive racing sport, since F1 teams must construct their own cars instead of simply buying off-the-shelf parts. How is it all paid for? Sponsors. Companies pay – and pay very well in the case of winning drivers – to have their logos and products emblazoned on a race car driver’s car and uniform. Even the events themselves may be sponsored, and often are: the Busch Series, the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto and the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 are just a few examples. Here are some of the topics we’ll be elaborating on to assist you in learning about the business of auto racing:
The Industry – Race car manufacturers and component suppliers are squeezed between the desire to win at all costs and the need to conform to rules and regulations that can change suddenly. It’s a roller-coaster ride, and we’ve got the latest scoop on how the winds of change are buffeting the auto racing industry.
Services – A modern auto racing team simply cannot function without the various services that they depend on to keep their cars performing at a fine edge. Many such services are offered to racecar owners and drivers.
Sports Book and Betting – Gambling on sports events is a multi-billion dollar business, and racing fans are no different than other sports fans when it comes to putting their money on the line. Learn more about the world of sports wagering – it’s a fascinating science whether or not you’re a participant.
The sport of auto racing, despite its massive popularity, faces a number of key business challenges – not least of which are how it develops and grows in the future and how it can retain the interest of those who follow its twists and turns both on and off the race track. Here at Autoracing.com, our challenge is to provide our visitors with the finest, most up-to-date information on racing. We invite you to not only learn about the auto racing business at Autoracing.com, but also to contribute to our site for the benefit of auto racing fans everywhere!
Together with brother, Kerry, Dale Earnhardt Jr, bought a street car from a junkyard. The brothers built the car into street stock car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr started racing in the street stock division at the early age of 17. This is where his professional driving career started, which isn’t all that surprising, as racing is in his blood, with his father already a well known name around the tracks. Dale was a natural, and it only took him two seasons to move up to the ranks of NASCAR, in the Late Model Stock Division. This move saw Dale racing on tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway, Nashville Speedway USA, Florence Motor Speedway and Tri-County Speedway. His career was underway, and by his third year in NASCAR Winston Racing Series, Dale had managed to secure 113 starts, he had won three races and had taken twelve poles.
The year 1996 turned out to be his best up to then. Dale Earnhart Jr had made 53 starts, won two races, grabbed eight poles and finished second at Florence, in points. This year also had Dale start his career in the NASCAR Busch Series. His first effort was a job well done, as he had qualified 7th, and on race day, he finished in 14th position.
The year 1998 was an exciting year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He started his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series, and his first race was the NAPA 300, which took place at the Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately for Dale, his first race did not go as planned and he was involved in a wreck, thankfully walking away unharmed. On 4 April 1998, at the Coca-Cola 300, which was raced at the Texas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr, proudly took first place. But it was the announcement that took place on 21 September 1998, that Dale had been waiting for. His potential had been spotted by Budweiser, and they had agreed to sponsor him to drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, followed in the footsteps of his father, but with his own style, grace and confidence, that secured him his own fan-base and a career apart from his father. Dale Earnhardt Snr in turn, supported his son, and was happy to just be the proud father and play a supporting role in his son’s career. Tragedy struck this close bond in 2001. It was the first race of the new racing season, and fans were terribly excited as Michael Waltrip won the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr came in second and third place was to be Dale Earnhardt Snr. This is an ending fans only dream about, and the atmosphere was electric. But on the last lap, Dale Earnhardt Snr crashed his car, and lost his life in the sport he loved, and in a position he was proud of, supporting his son. The tragic loss not only tore through a family, but broke the heart of every supporter.
As his father would have wanted him to, Dale Earnhardt Jr continued to achieve in in this fiercely competitive and fast-paced sport, becoming a legend in his own right. By the end of 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr had 18 wins to his name, with 89 finishes in the Top Five, and 144 in the Top Ten. His last win was the 2008 Lifelock 400 Sprint Cup at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified second and finished second in the 2010 Daytona 500. He set the record for the fastest recorded qualifying time (28.76) at 310.2 kph at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Car of Tomorrow on 5 March 2010. There’s little doubt that fans can expect plenty of nail-biting action from this talented NASCAR driver in the months to come.
Jimmie Kenneth Johnson was born in El Cajon, California on the 17th of September 1975. His racing career began successfully on 50cc motorcycles when he was five-years old. By the age of eight he won the 60cc class championship, even though he had injured his knee and there were still seven races to go. From motorcycles he made his way to four wheels where he competed in many off-road leagues. These included SODA, Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group and SCORE International. Here he received Rookie of the Year honors in all three leagues, made a total of 25 wins, over 100 top-three finishes and six championships. In 1996 and 1997 SODA series Jimmie Johnson raced with Herzog Motorsports as well as being a field reporter for ESPN in the SODA series.
A year later Johnson joined the American Speed Association (ASA) circuit where he was chosen for Rookie of the Year honors as well as finishing fourth overall. At the same time he joined NASCAR Busch Series and began racing with them. In 1999 he did the same, running in both the ASA and Busch Series and won twice, finishing third in the ASA point race. The following year he became a Busch Series driver but this time with Herzog Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson won his first Busch Series in 2001 on the Chicagoland Speedway at the Hills Brothers Coffee 300.
By the end of 2006 Johnson had the honor of being the only driver to win the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship all in one year and the only driver to win three Coca-Cola 600s in one go. Jimmie’s 2006 season saw him win the first of four Sprint Cup Series championships, as well as the Nextel All-Star challenge. He was voted 2006 Driver of the year, an award that is unique in that it covers the entire racing series in the United States. Johnson continued on a winning streak in 2007 where he won a series of races as well as his second consecutive championship. 2008 saw Johnson notching up 7 wins, 6 poles, 15 top-fives, 22 top-tens and the Sprint Cup Series championship. In 2009 he made NASCAR history by being the first driver to win four consecutive championships. His achievements for the season included 7 wins, 4 poles, 16 top-fives, and 24 top-tens. Jimmie Johnson was chosen as the 2009 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
Having set the goal of winning five consecutive championships, by the end of March 2010 Johnson was right on track with 3 wins, 3 top-fives, and 3 top-tens, the downside being a DNF at the Daytona 500. Currently Johnson drives the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, which is owned by Jeff Gordon, sponsored by Lowe’s and operated by Hendrick Motorsports.
Born on 30 April 1963, Michael Curtis Waltrip showed enthusiasm for racing from a young age. His older brother Darrel Waltrip became a three-time NASCAR champion and it didn’t take long for Michael to start following in his big brother’s footsteps. He got involved in kart racing in his teens and switched to stockcars by the time he was eighteen years of age. In 1981, he won a division of the track championship at the Kentucky Speedway. In 1983 he won the Goody’s Dash Series and he also took the prize for Goody’s most popular driver in 1983 and 1984. These early successes were certainly indicative of greater things to come.
In 1985 the Kentucky-born racer made his Cup debut at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Though his success at the race was minimal, it was the just the start of his climb to cup success. In 1988, he won at Dover in his fourth start at the Busch Series. At the time he was racing for his brother’s team and his win made quite an impact. Unfortunately, it took quite some time before Waltrip actually enjoyed a Cup race victory. Eventually, at his 464th race he took the chequered flag at the 2001 Daytona 500. He also came in second at the Pepsi 400 that same season. He won the Daytona 500 again in 2003 and his last win was the EA Sports 500 in Talladega in 2003.
During the course of his career, Michael Waltrip has driven his #55 car with great skill. He is known, amongst other things, for his loyalty and skill in the driver’s seat. Today he spends much of his time with his family in North Caronlina where he is an ardent supporter of the Dallas Cowboys. He is still involved with a number of different aspects of racing and he also enjoys participating in numerous marathons. Both he and his brother are often called on to appear in advertisements and he currently serves on the SPEED Channel’s NASCAR Inside Nextel Cup panel of experts. Waltrip has enjoyed four wins, 122 top tens and three pole positions. He continues to be involved in racing and will likely continue to enjoy a long and successful racing-related career.