Brother Act: Terry & Bobby Labonte
by Tom Jensen November 09, 2020
The 1996 premier series season ended at Atlanta, where Bobby Labonte won the NAPA 500 and big brother Terry won his second championship.
November 10, 1996
NASCAR has always been a family sport, from the Frances, the Pettys and the Wood Brothers in the infancy of stock-car racing, to later arrivals like the Bakers, Earnhardts, Jarretts and Allisons, to name just a few.
Each of those families is well represented in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So is the Labonte family, which has produced a pair of championship-winning brothers. Terry, the 1984 and ’96 premier series champion, is a member of the Hall’s Class of 2016, while younger brother Bobby took the 2000 title and was inducted in this year’s class, along with Joe Gibbs, Tony Stewart, Waddell Wilson and Buddy Baker.
All five members of the Class of 2020 have their respective artifacts and cars on display in the Hall of Honor now.
For Bobby, racing was a family affair from the very beginning. “I was born into it,” Bobby said. “From Day One, it just seemed like that was part of my DNA. My mom and dad and my brother were in racing and here I came along. Whether you had a choice or not, I was taken to the track as an infant and I guess I just grew up there. Dad taught us a lot, he took us and showed us how to race. He was very influential.”
Although Bobby and Terry both had Hall of Fame careers on their own, they also had some big moments that tied them together. When Bobby won his first premier series race, the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Terry finished second. Later that season, Bobby and Terry again finished 1-2, this time in the GM Goodwrench Dealer 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
But the biggest moment for the family came in the season-ending 1996 NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bobby won the race from the pole, while Terry finished fifth and won his second championship. In the race, the top five finishers were all Hall of Famers: Bobby beat Dale Jarrett (2014), Jeff Gordon (2019), Dale Earnhardt (2010) and Bobby’s big brother Terry.
It was a special ending and a race the family will always cherish.
“For Terry and I, I think of my parents and they’ve got two kids in Victory Lane,” said Bobby. “And I’m thinking about all those days of quarter-midget racing, they never wavered, nothing like that. As we celebrated throughout the afternoon and the evening, I’ll never forget my dad. We were sitting there, went to the motor home, we’re sitting there talking and he goes, ‘Cowboys won, too.’ So it was like, ‘Hey, alright. Dallas Cowboys won, I won, Terry won.”
And I’m thinking about all those days of quarter-midget racing, they never wavered.
— Bobby Labonte
And for family patriarch Bob Labonte, that day in Atlanta was one he’ll never forget.
“I looked around and my wife’s crying, everybody’s crying. So I thought, ‘Hell, I should be, too.’”
The rest of This Week in NASCAR:
November 9, 2003
The 44th and final career premier series race victory for Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (2015) came at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, where the Georgia native bested Jimmie Johnson by 1.23 seconds to win the Pop-Secret Microwave Popcorn 400. Elliott drove a Dodge owned by fellow Hall of Famer Ray Evernham (2018) to victory, earning $207,648 in the process.
November 11, 1951
A packed house full of 26,000 Georgia race fans saw a pair of brothers finish 1-2 at Lakewood Speedway, a 1-mile dirt track in Atlanta. Winning the race, the 39th of 41 on the 1951 premier series schedule, was Hall of Famer Tim Flock (2014), who piloted the No. 91 Hudson Hornet to victory over his brother, Bob, in an Oldsmobile. Both of the Flock brothers’ cars were owned by Ted Chester. Tim led 87 of 100 laps to earn $1,000, while Bob collected $700 for finishing second.
November 12, 1961
Back in the day, the NASCAR season didn’t always follow the calendar exactly. For example, the second race of the 1962 premier series schedule actually took place in November 1961 at North Carolina’s Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. There, Hall of Famers dominated, with Rex White (2015) winning over Buck Baker (2013) and Joe Weatherly (2015). White led 123 of 200 laps, earning $800 with the victory.
November 13, 1966
The premier series frequently raced in the state of Georgia in the month of November. Despite taking place in November 1966, the Augusta 300 was the first race of the 1967 season. Not surprisingly, Hall of Famer Richard Petty (2010) won at the 0.500-mile oval, earning his first of a record 27 victories in 48 starts in the 1967 season. At Augusta, Petty led 223 of 300 laps to win $1,735. All told, Petty would earn a then career-high $150,196 during the ’67 campaign.
November 14, 1993
One year after Alan Kulwicki’s famous championship victory, Atlanta Motor Speedway once again closed out the premier series season with the running of the Hooters 500. This time a pair of Hall of Famers prevailed, with Rusty Wallace (2013) wheeling car owner Roger Penske’s (2019) Pontiac to a 5.66-second victory over Ricky Rudd to win $93,100. The victory was a career-high 10th in a single-season for Wallace, the 1989 series champion.
November 15, 1980
Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt (2010) clinched his first of a record-tying seven premier series championships with a fifth-place finish in the Los Angeles Times 500, the ninth and final time NASCAR raced at the 2.5-mile Ontario Motor Speedway, a Southern California track built to the dimensions of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hall of Famer Benny Parsons (2017) won the race, but Earnhardt took the title by 19 points over Cale Yarborough (2012). The race was the first for Earnhardt with Wrangler sponsorship. Earnhardt’s Ontario car is on display on Glory Road at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as part of our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit, which features 18 premier series championship cars, including first and last title-winning cars for Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson, the only three seven-time champions.