GM Racing - Labontes' Texas wake up call, part 1

Wake Up Call with the Labontes Texas Motor Speedway Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Justin Labonte NEXTEL Wake Up Call April 15, 2005 (Note: Terry has one win, one pole, a pair of top 5 efforts and five top 10s. Bobby has two poles, two...

Wake Up Call with the Labontes
Texas Motor Speedway

Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Justin Labonte

NEXTEL Wake Up Call
April 15, 2005

(Note: Terry has one win, one pole, a pair of top 5 efforts and five top 10s. Bobby has two poles, two outside poles, three top three finishes and four top 10s. Justin will be making his second start at Texas Motor Speedway)

WE KNOW THAT FAMILIES ARE COMPETITIVE. WHAT IS THAT LIKE?

Terry: I think we're more.I don't think we're that fierce of competitors against each other on the track. Because.I know a lot of you don't know our Dad, but for those of you who do know our Dad, he would not be very happy with us if we came home on a Sunday night and ran into each other. We don't really.we're not that fierce of competitors against each other, I don't think.

Bobby: And if that happened, it would be the last time that happened. We're smart enough to know not to do that. But we actually never raced each other until 1990, or 1989 or 1990. Probably 1989 it was, in Charlotte. So, we didn't race each other when we were growing up, so we didn't have.there wasn't a rivalry between us and divisions or anything like that. We just didn't have that. So when we race against each other now, it's not.it doesn't come down to, hey I beat you, you beat me. Sorry, there's no story there! I tried, though.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ALL OF YOU TO HAVE THE LABONTE FAMILY IN RACING?

Justin: It's really important to me. They helped me out a lot. Every week, Dad's usually on the spotter's stand or on top of the truck to help me out. Bobby's always there to answer questions, too. I just try to get better and without them I definitely wouldn't be where I am now. It's really good.

Bobby: Well, yeah, he's probably not telling everything. He's probably thinking that these guys have been around a long time and they're not telling me enough. No, it's a neat deal that we've been able to see Justin grow up in the sport. I worked for Terry's team for years and we raced against each other. Terry's helped my career out when I was starting out in racing by loaning me race cars and trucks and stuff like that to get to the race tracks. So, we're not.I guess we're just three guys that try to help each other out, more than want to be competitive about it and want to beat them. Now, that might be different on a go-kart or that. But on a big track we definitely try to help each other out as much as possible and help each others' careers out and want to see everyone do well, obviously.

Terry: You know, I think it's pretty neat that we're able to compete at this level. To do it together.not a lot of guys have the opportunity to race in NASCAR and in the Cup Series like Bobby and I have had the chance to do and win some races and win some championships. It's pretty exciting because not everybody has the chance to do that. That's to me.that's pretty special. And then Justin coming up, of course, you know, just really getting started in his career, so it's exciting to watch him.

COMMENT ON YOUR ROOTS HERE IN TEXAS AND YOUR MEMORIES OF THIS STATE

Terry: I was born and raised in Corpus Christi and raised in south Texas down there. You know, I kind of began my racing career down there in Corpus Christi at the old Corpus Christi Speedway which is still there today. Guys like A.J. Foyt and big names raced there back in the 1950s. I went on and raced in San Antonio and Houston and then I had the opportunity to move to North Carolina to run in NASCAR with Billy Hagan. I still have a house down there that we've had for while. We get back to Texas as often as we can. Probably only five or six times a year, but we still have some ties down there.

DOES IT STILL FEEL LIKE COMING HOME TO YOU?

Terry: Oh yeah, we've still got a lot of family and friends that live down there, so for me it does. Of course, I've probably got more ties than Bobby does, because I lived there longer than he did. When we moved he was probably 14 or 15.

(NOTE: Terry Labonte was inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame this week)

Bobby: I know that, like Terry said, I moved when I was 14 years old. So, I lived my adult life in North Carolina. But coming to Texas is a great honor. I was still born in Corpus Christi, Texas. We went by the hospital in Corpus that I was born at and I said, that's me there! You still can't take that away. The things I do remember, obviously, the friends that I had and stuff like that. There were some times when I was starting out racing in North Carolina and they had a race at Texas World Speedway.the Texas Race of Champions and we'd take our late models. We drove right by Concord Speedway that paid $10,000 to win to come down and race in Texas because we wanted to race in Texas, because that's what we wanted to do. You know? And we'd travel all the way down there to race.however long that race track is from here. I don't know exactly. We'd go down there and race for the weekend and go back home because we are from Texas and we want to race in Texas, too, you know. That was kind of cool that we did that back then, so the track here in Fort Worth is getting races. Even though we might be eight hours away from home here, or from Corpus, it's still a long ways but you feel like you're home because friends do come up here and see us and obviously the fans support us being from Texas and that makes us feel good.

HOW MUCH WAS THE PURSE FOR THE RACE YOU WENT TO?

Bobby: About $1200? It wasn't much! It was fun. It was more fun than anything else.

Terry: It just proves he doesn't know about money

Bobby: That's right. We did that and it was fun. Terry can say it and my Dad can say it because of the age staggering.I had know a lot of those guys but not as many as them. We came back to race because of the air and the slick helmets. Terry raced with them when he was still down there, so we came down to race again and I'd get to do that because I was just starting my career out. It wasn't paying much but you got to come down here and be with friends. That's why we came back down here two or three times to race. Bobby Allison was here, Davey was there once. A whole host of guys.probably like 50 cars. There were a whole bunch of guys that Terry raced and then I used to watch race, you know, so, coming back to Texas was important even though it didn't pay much. But it meant something to come back to Texas to race at that point in time.

JUSTIN, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CONTINUE THAT LABONTE LEGACY IN TEXAS?

Justin: It's exciting even though I wasn't really born in Texas. It's always great to come to Texas and race. The fans are really.this is kind of different for me. The fans are supportive. I was really surprised how many actually cheered when I went out. It was pretty cool.

TERRY, CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR 10-RACE SCHEDULE?

Terry: I think I really adjusted pretty well to it. I've really enjoyed it. And I've looked forward to running the races that we've got scheduled to run and I've also looked forward to not going to some of the places that we've missed, too. I've gone to most of the races with Justin, so that's kept me pretty busy. So, I'm still as busy as I have been, but it's definitely different. I've enjoyed it.

JUSTIN, WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GIVE THE INTRODUCTION FOR YOUR FATHER AT THE HALL OF FAME?

Justin: IT was really cool. Out of all the hall of fame things that I've ever had the chance to go watch, that was.to be able to present that to my Dad and just be a part of it. It was really special and it was neat. I didn't realize how big of a deal it really was until I got there. I saw all those people out there and I got a bit nervous. It was a special night and I was happy to be a part of it.

TERRY, WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU DO BE INDUCTED INTO THE TEXAS MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME?

Terry: Well, it really.I don't know how to describe it. To be inducted with guys that are already in it. A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford-those were two guys that I just really, really admired. Lee Shepard, the late Lee Shepard was inducted, and he was probably the best drag racer man of all time, I think. I don't know. I didn't know Justin was actually going to be the one that introduced me, so that was kind of a surprise. It really made me feel good to be honored that way into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. And when I think of the other guys that are in there, I think, I'm not sure I'm deserving of this! To look at the accomplishments and.I don't know. It was exciting.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW CONCERN ABOUT THE LACK OF RESPECT FOR OLDER DRIVERS?

Justin: You know, we really haven't talked about it too much. But, just growing up around racing my entire life, when you race somebody to beat them.you want to be able to race side by side for 20 laps and not touch them and be ahead of them at the finish line. That's the way I race. I know some guys kind of don't like that, but I have a lot of respect for the people I run around, whether they are veterans or not. That's just the way I go about racing. I know some people are different and they'll knock you out of the way and do whatever they can. You know, these guys have been around a long time and they're great racers. It's more important to me to race them clean and beat them fair and square then take them out and win the race that way. I would feel terrible about it if you wrecked a guy like.my Dad, to win a race.

Bobby: You don't know my Dad, do you? Still his (Justin's) granddad. If he came home after doing something like that, he would get his butt whipped. It's just a reminder of how it works its way down the food chain. But, Justin has been around and he's been around us. I think we.hopefully, I think what has happened as he's probably watched us and so, between my Dad, his Dad and myself, he saw how we do things or whatever. You're around somebody like that, it rubs off on you. And the way he's come up, he's aggressive but he's smart and he takes a win when he can get one, he's not going to take somebody out to get a win, you know what I mean? He hangs around people that think that same way and that probably rubs off on him more than anything else.

Terry: Bobby pretty much covered it. I think not only in racing but I think young people that don't have respect for the sport that they're involved in and not having respect for the veterans that are involved in.just in society. It comes down to how they were brought up and the family they were brought up in, the values that their parents pounded in their heads. Bottom line, that's the issue.

CONSIDERING THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT MARTINSVILLE, WAS THERE A MEETING OF THE MINDS AT JOE GIBBS RACING THIS WEEK?

Bobby: I missed the meeting. I missed one meeting. I was there I just didn't get to the right room. It's a big place. But, I just go in and talk to Mark. It doesn't matter to me. We've known each other for years now. He explained to me what happened and he called me. We got what we think was the final results of what happened and that's all I need to know. As far as the rest of it goes, we didn't do anyting wrong except that we had a part failure and those things are going to happen. But there wasn't, that I know of, any special type of meetings that were set out this week from the weeks before.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Justin Labonte , Bobby Allison , Billy Hagan , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford