Interview with Bobby Labonte (2000 NASCAR Champion), by Tony Hall
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series 2018
Iberianmph.com caught up with Bobby Labonte who was competing in his first race of the 2018 season at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia during the weekend of 14 – 15 April 2018.
Bobby Labonte is 53 years old, born in Texas, USA and now living in North Carolina, the heartland of NASCAR racing. Bobby has been racing most of his life and has 31 wins and 36 pole positions in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series. His wins include the 1995 Coca-Cola 600, 2000 Brickyard 400 and Southern 500 to name but a few. Bobby is racing in the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for RDV Competition, car #18. This is what he had to say:
Tony: Bobby, many years in motor sport driving in NASCAR and Xfinity Series, many great wins and many pole positions. You have raced against some of the greats such as Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd and many others. Now you are here racing in Europe in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. How does it compare to what you are used to?
Bobby: It’s been really good. Last year I did one race at Brands Hatch (UK) and that got me hooked. I knew a lot of people that were with the series. My wife and I both enjoy travelling and enjoy racing so we managed to come here for more races this year, it’s exciting. It’s a different environment. The chances are if somebody from here (NWES) was to go to the US to race, it would be a steep learning curve, so for me to come here and race it’s a steep learning curve because it’s their backyard. So I have to go and play in their backyard and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s fun for us, it’s a great challenge, we’re making friends as we go and it’s great to race.
Tony: You will also have to learn the European tracks?
Bobby: It’s incredible the tracks we go to and we only have the one oval!
Tony: Tell me about the car. How do you compare the EuroNascar to the American NASCAR? I am sure there is a big difference in the horsepower and many other things.
Bobby: These cars remind me of what we may have raced twenty years ago as far as horsepower and things you can change on the car. The drivers are very talented but the cars are definitely not what we are used to in the US of late.
Tony: The car has a four-speed manual gearbox. Is that the same in the US?
Bobby: Yes, the race car looks very similar. They’ve got disc brakes, G-force or similar transmission, a V8 engine similar to this but with much more horsepower. So a lot of things are similar. What Jérôme and Anne (Galpin CEO Euro NASCAR) and NASCAR have done is create a series over here (Europe) that doesn’t require a big financial investment. Definitely the series will grow as more people can afford it. The competition is tough but they have a good thing going.
Tony: Your first race of this season here at Valencia, dow did it go?
Bobby: It was good. I still feel like I’m learning the track. I haven’t figured everything out but it’s definitely got better every time we have gone out on track. I put up a good fight in the race and running those laps has helped me on a track that I’d never seen before.
Tony: Thank you Bobby. We wish you a good race tomorrow and every success for the season.
Note – Bobby finished P14 in his first race and P8 in the points in his second race.