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Driver, Hero Bud Moore Dies

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 28 2017

Former car owner and Hall of Famer Bud Moore has passed away. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Walter “Bud” Moore Jr., a decorated member of America’s “Greatest Generation” who went on to win NASCAR championships as car-owner and crew chief, has died at the age of 92.

The Spartanburg, S.C., native won NASCAR’s premier series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car-owner titles in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly. Moore had been the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was inducted into stock car racing’s shrine in Charlotte, N.C., in 2011, two years after he was voted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala.

After graduating from high school, Moore joined the military in 1943 at the age of 18 as a machine gunner, assigned to the 90th Infantry Division which landed on Utah Beach in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. His unit was attached to Gen. George W. Patton’s “Third Army,” which pushed on to liberate Europe. In recognition of his heroism, Moore was decorated with five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars (the second with clusters). 

“Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration,” NASCAR Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Brian Z. France said in a statement. “But when detailing the life of the great Bud Moore, it’s a description that fits perfectly.

“Moore, a decorated veteran of World War II, served our country before dominating our sport as both a crew chief and, later, an owner. As a crew chief, Moore guided NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker to a championship in 1957. As an owner, he captured consecutive titles in 1962-63 with another Hall of Famer, Joe Weatherly. Those successes, along with many more, earned him his own spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.

“On behalf of all of NASCAR, I offer my condolences to Bud’s family, friends and fans. We will miss Bud, a giant in our sport, and a true American hero.”

Auto racing was a destination for many returning veterans in 1945. NASCAR was born in 1948 and Moore _ a son of the South who enjoyed fixing Ford and Mercury products _ would make stock car racing his life’s work. Referring to himself as “a country mechanic who loved to make ’em run fast,” Moore stood more than 6-feet tall and couldn’t be missed in the garage _ or in Victory Lane where his cars won during parts of four decades beginning in 1961. In all, Moore won 63 times as an owner.

Moore and Weatherly proved to be a virtually unstoppable combination. The duo won eight times in 1961 and 12 times during their back-to-back championship seasons. Weatherly died in early 1964 during a race at the old Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway, ending what could have been a dynasty rivaling that of Petty Enterprises and other top teams of the era.

Moore’s team would not win another title but came close with top drivers including NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Allison, and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees Buddy Baker and Ricky Rudd. Each managed to finish among the top-10 in the championship standings at least once, with Allison the runner-up in 1978. Allison won the 1978 Daytona 500, a feat not previously accomplished by either Moore or Allison.

Moore became the eighth recipient of the Spirit of Ford Award in 1995. The award is Ford Motor Company’s highest honor in auto racing, recognizing lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry both on and off the racetrack. The award’s 28 recipients are an international list of honorees from all forms of racing and racing media.

“All of us involved in Ford’s racing program mourn the passing of Bud Moore,” said Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford and a member of Ford Motor Company’s board of directors. “He embodied the true meaning of the word hero, from storming the beaches of Normandy during D-Day in World War II to working his way up to the top levels of both the SCCA and NASCAR as a championship car-owner.

“Bud changed the lives of countless drivers and crew members for several decades on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but he was a humble, simple man who never forgot his South Carolina roots. A loyal Ford man and a man of honor.  We send our deepest condolences to his sons Greg, Daryl and Brent.”

Moore’s five victories at Talladega Superspeedway were with fellow-International Motorsports Hall of Famers Baker and Earnhardt Sr., along with Allison, leader of the famed “Alabama Gang.” Baker reeled off an incredible three straight victories at Talladega during 1975-76, a record that stood until Dale Earnhardt Jr. eclipsed the mark with four consecutive from 2001-03. Allison claimed his win in May 1979 while Earnhardt Sr. picked up his first of 10 Talladega triumphs in Moore’s No. 15 Ford in 1983.

“I got to know Bud back in the 1980s and he was one of a kind,” said Grant Lynch, chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. “He was a teacher of our sport, a bluecollar team-owner who helped many drivers become legends and better men. Oh, the stories he would tell about the early days of the sport when he, (MRN’s) Barney Hall, Dick Brooks (former driver and MRN analyst) and I would play golf. He would always put a smile on your face. Bud was a true pioneer and building block of our sport. And his legacy, especially here at Talladega, will live on.”

Moore’s final NASCAR premier series victory was recorded in May 1993 on the road-course at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Moore is survived by sons Daryl (wife Carol), Brent (wife Nancy) and Greg (fiancé Roberta) and grandchildren Melissa Moore Padgett (Tommy), Candace Moore Glover (Tommy), Benjamin Moore (Kristen), Thomas Moore and Brittany Moore, along with seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

Moore also is survived by brothers Ralph, William, and Richard Moore and a sister, Ann Moore Elder.  He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Betty Clark Moore, and his brothers, Charles, Cecil and Donald Moore and sisters, Edith Moore Gregory and Helen Moore McKinney.

Services and arrangements will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to:  Victory Junction, 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, N.C. 27317; Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300; Jacksonville, Fla., or Hearing Charities of America, Hearing Aid Project, 1912 East Meyer Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64132.                           

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 28 2017
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