SPARTANBURG, S.C. — His eyes were red, his voice cracked slightly with emotion and he probably spoke for most folks here when he hung his head and said “These are sad days. All my heroes are dying.”
He was a former NASCAR official and one of many who turned out here Saturday as they buried Walter M. Moore Jr., the man known as “Bud” to family and friends alike.
Folks gathered at First Baptist North Spartanburg to say their goodbyes on a surprisingly warm and sunny December day.
Moore was a decorated military veteran and a successful team owner in NASCAR and he touched the lives of so many folks during his 92 years here on this earth.
His military exploits and NASCAR accomplishments have been well-documented. The recipient of five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. A championship as a crew chief and twice more as an owner. Sixty-three victories.
Respect from both sides was paid in the flesh Saturday — Moore was laid to rest with military funeral honors, and a wide-ranging mix of fellow racing associates were on hand to bid him farewell.
NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Allison, who won 14 times in Moore’s familiar No. 15 Ford, was among those in attendance. Ricky Rudd, a five-time winner with Moore, was there as well. Rudd once raced for Moore with his eyes taped open after surviving a horrendous crash at Daytona.
Humpy Wheeler, the promoter’s promoter and former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway was there to pay his respects as was Jim France, son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and currently Chairman of the Board for International Speedways Corp.
Past crew chiefs who worked with Bud Moore Engineering turned out and stood shoulder-to-shoulder alongside those who had known Moore simply as a friend and neighbor.
Winston Kelley, the executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, spoke of Moore’s drive and determination, traits that led to Moore’s induction into the Hall in 2011. “He was one of the first 10 people inducted” out of the 60-plus years’ worth of candidates, Kelley, a longtime friend of the car owner, noted.
But he was just as much a family man, Kelley said. Moore was married to wife Betty for 64 years before her passing in 2009.
Mike Helton, the first NASCAR president outside the France family, also paid tribute to Moore during Saturday’s service.
Helton recalled first meeting the legendary team owner through Bill France Jr., the former head of NASCAR. France would often seek out Moore for feedback, because he knew it would be honest, if sometimes brutally so.
Helton said Moore wanted to be remembered as a man “who loved his family, his country and the sport of auto racing. “
“Check, check and check,” he said.
Earlier this year it was former NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Sam Ard and Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton. And is seems like just yesterday that we said our goodbyes to engine builder and team owner Robert Yates.
There have been others as well.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to cover such competitors and Bud Moore wasn’t the least of them by any means.
But it’s been a bigger honor just to have known them.