“…..one who made many contributions to the sport. One whose firm handshake was as good as any contract. One who always gave a straight answer. Most of all, to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing.”– Bud Moore on how he’d like to be remembered.
No history of NASCAR is complete without the mention of Bud Moore. Though his fascination with cars began racing around on the streets of Spartanburg, South Carolina in his teens, the man who would be in NASCAR’s second ever Hall of Fame class made his mark as a crew chief, team owner and a- in his words- “”an old country mechanic who loved to make ’em run fast.”
Though racing in its early years far more dangerous than it is today, many of the young men who returned home from fighting in World War II had seen death up close in a way most of us have never known. Climbing into the cockpit of a car and taking it to the edge seemed like child’s play compared to staring at the wrong end of an enemy rifle. As we mentioned yesterday, Bud Moore received multiple Purple Hearts for the wounds he sustained in the European theater. Driving a hunk of steel on wheels at speeds of 100 mph was dangerous but much more satisfying thrill.
Shortly after the war, NASCAR came into being. Moore cut his racing teeth on preparing cars for moonshine runners, trying to evade federal agents. The 50’s would find more teamed up with his old buddy Joe Eubanks. With the latter behind the wheel and Moore as crew chief, they teamed up to finish 19th at Darlington in the first Southern 500 in 1950.
Bud Moore was twice a championship crew chief for Buck Baker. As a pit boss, he was a 49 race winner.
In the 60s, Bud Moore formed his own racing team, simply named Bud Moore Engineering. He gained notoriety, fielding cars for the renown likes of Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, Joe Weatherly and his boyhood friend Cotton Owens. Moore’s name was also linked to Billy Wade, and Buddy Baker.
Bud Moore’s heyday was an era of innovation. He taught the legendary Wood brothers how to use a slide rule to measure horsepower on a dynamometer. He was also involved in preparing cars for drag racing and America’s Trans-Am Series. Moore was also a force behind the success of Tiny Lund in the Grand American Series.
Through the decades that followed Bud Moore was associated with the illustrious likes of Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Davis Pearson and many more. Moore’s last race as crew chief came when we worked with Bret Bodine in the 1989 Atlanta Journal 500.
As funding issues began to dog Bud Moore Engineering in the 90s, his career as owner began to wind down. He remained with NASCAR as a member of the appeals committee and was frequently interviewed for NASCAR history and feature pieces.
In 2011, Bud Moore was honored as a member of NASCAR’s second Hall of Fame class. The fact he was one of the first 10 tells you all you need to know about what he meant to the sport.
For all the years he served in such a highly competitive sport, these eyes and ears have yet to observe a negative word spoken of Walter Moore Jr. This week, he passed away at the age of 92 after a long and full life. They say that all men die, but not all truly live. Bud Moore lived- big time.