- Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 April 2009 17:09
- Published on Wednesday, 22 April 2009 17:09
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From decorated WW II veteran to Hall of Fame NASCAR team owner and mechanic, Walter “Bud “Moore has been an integral part in the post World War II development of automobile racing in America.
Tomorrow's International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony is the cornerstone of the activities leading up to Sunday’s Aarons 499 at Talladega Super Speedway. A legend of NASCAR and of the Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts, from his shops in Spartanburg South Carolina, Bud Moore has been fielding winning race cars since his first season in racing. The winner of the prestigious “Bill France Award for Excellence” in 1997, Moore’s induction into Motorsports Hall of Fame, just shy of his 82nd birthday on May 25 is way overdue.
Moore and his friend Joe Eubanks began racing as a hobby in the late 1940’s, with Eubanks as the driver. As the 1950’s progressed and the fledgling NASCAR circuit gained in popularity, Moore began spending an increasing amount of time at the race track, until he finally turned his hobby into his fulltime profession.
Bud Moore Engineering made its NASCAR debut in 1961 by winning a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 with Joe Weatherly as the driver. Weatherly went on to win eight races that season, setting the foundation for his back-to-back title runs for the next two years.
That was the beginning of three decades of near continuous success for Bud Moore Engineering. During a career that encompassed the entire second half of the 20th century, Moore worked with some of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport. They included Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker, Geoff Bodine, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Tiny Lund, Cotton Owens, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Ricky Rudd, Johnny Rutherford, Morgan Shepard, Dick Trickle, Darrell Waltrip, Joe Weatherly, and Cale Yarborough.
All told, Moore’s cars won 63 NASCAR races, and 43 poles. He won consecutive Grand National Championships with Joe Weatherly in 1962-63, and was the crew chief for Buck Baker when he won the title in 1957. Billy Wade drove to four consecutive victories for Bud Moore Engineering in 1964. Other highlights include Tiny Lund’s Grand American title in a Bud Moore built Mercury Cougar; Parnelli Jones’ Sports Car Club of America championship in 1970; Buddy Bakers three consecutive victories at Talladega in 1975 and 1976; and Bobby Alison’s Daytona 500 triumph in 1978.
Moore said it was difficult to pick a favorite moment in his career or a favorite driver. “I can’t come out and say who the best was,” Moore said. “For the long race tracks, Buddy Baker was real good. Bobby Allison was great, and you can’t leave out Dale Earnhardt.”
“We won a lot of races with just about every driver who drove for me. I didn’t have any problems with any of them. We got along real well. We tried to treat everyone the same and put a good race car under him so he could go out and win races.” Moore’s final victory NASCAR victory came in 1993 with Geoff Bodine as the driver. Moore continued to field cars occasionally throughout the rest of the decade before finally, calling it a career in 2001.
“All in all, I was real fortunate to come along when I did,” Moore said. “I enjoyed every minute of the 50 years I was in NASCAR. If I had the money and sponsorship and stuff, I’d still be at.”
In addition to Bud Moore, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Class of 2009 includes race promoter and car owner J.C. Agajanian, NASCAR driver Donny Alison, seven-time modified champion Jerry Cook, and pioneer NASCAR car owner Raymond Parks.
It’s perhaps appropriate leading into this Hall of Fame induction week that the winner last Saturday night was a member of the graybeard brigade, Mark Martin. Starting from the pole position the 50 year-old streaked away from Tony Stewart after a restart with six laps to go to notch his 36th career Cup race win.
Martin became the oldest driver to win in the series since Morgan Shepard won at age 51 on March 20, 1993 at Atlanta. Martin’s win was his first win since Oct. 9, 2005 at Kansas Speedway, and his first since joining Hendrick Motorsports. Not bad, old man.
You may reach Pet Barber at talkinracing@journa;press.com