Bud Moore passed away and I guess it’s appropriate, in a way, that most of the industry is in Las Vegas preparing to celebrate a championship.
Moore won a few of those during his career in NASCAR. He was car owner and crew chief for Joe Weatherly when Weatherly won back-to-back championships in 1962 and ’63. He was crew chief for Buck Baker when Baker won what’s now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in ’57, too.
Some of the very best racers in NASCAR worked with or learned from Moore. Fellow Hall of Fame members Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough. Darrell Waltrip and Benny Parsons. HOF nominees Buddy Baker and Ricky Rudd, too.
Those folks collected most of Moore’s 63 wins as a car owner, but drivers such as Geoffrey Bodine and Morgan Shepherd, Darel Dieringer and Billy Wade also put Moore’s cars in the winner’s circle.
RELATED: Bud Moore’s stats as an owner
Moore was a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and he was 92, and he will and should be remembered much more for his service to his country than his service to stock car racing.
He was just a teenager when he joined the military and the next thing you know he’s aboard a ship off the coast of France and headed into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The D-Day Invasion, Utah Beach, Normandy, France.
More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. Moore survived, and continued onward with the Third Army under the leadership of Gen. George Patton. Moore received five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars, and they say he and his jeep driver even captured an entire regiment of enemy soldiers at one point.
“If you went through what we went through … when they celebrated the 50th year of D-Day in 1994, Union Oil offered to send me and my wife back over there for the celebration,” Moore said in 2011 when he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I wouldn’t go because I didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened. I left a lot of friends over there.”
Bud Moore was a hero. One of the last of his kind, one of the last of his generation.
His NASCAR racing career stretched from the early 1960s through 2000. His cars made 958 starts and his drivers scored nearly 300 top-five finishes. There were 43 poles along the way.
Among the 63 victories were wins in the legendary Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
Moore ran Ford entries for much of his career, although the early success in NASCAR came with Pontiac then Mercury. He also enjoyed success outside of NASCAR.
“We ran the Trans-Am series with the Mercury Cougar in ’67; the Cyclone with Tiny Lund in ’67 and ’68,” Moore recalled. “We won the championship for Ford in the Trans-Am series in 1970.
“We were the first ones to run the small block motor; did all the experimental work on it. As things went on, we did a lot for Ford and they did a lot for us too. I’m proud to have been associated with them for as long as we were. It was great to know you had a company stand behind you like that.”
– Bud Moore stories are plentiful. I’ll leave you with this one.
“We were driving back to the hotel in rental cars one year at Riverside (California), and Bud Moore and his group were in another car,” championship-winning crew chief and Hall of Fame member Dale Inman once told me.
“We started banging on each other’s cars and Bud yells, ‘When we get to the motel, we’re gonna whip your ass!'”
Those sorts of things took place back in the day, mostly out of fun and more a way to break the monotony of being on the road nearly every week than an actual threat of physical harm.
When the two groups arrived at the hotel, Moore jumped out of his car. But there’s one problem. His crew decides to stay inside the car.
“Bud jumps out and his crew locks their car doors,” Inman recalled. “So we get out and jump on him, toss him around. Just having fun with him.
“And his crew is in the car laughing their heads off.”