Walter 'Bud' Moore, 1925-2017

B.Moore

Walter "Bud" Moore Jr., shown here prior to his 2011 induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 92. (Photo: Getty Images)

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.

Moore - a Spartanburg, S.C., native  - won the Cup Series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car-owner titles in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly. He was the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, inducted in 2011.

In a statement, NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said:

"First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to the entire Moore family. Walter “Bud” Moore was truly a hero in every sense of the word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes a hero as: 'A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.' Many may fit one of these categories but very few fit into each. Bud left an indelible mark on NASCAR. We are humbled that he considers his crowning achievement as his induction in the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, one of our first 10 inductees. That alone speaks to the magnitude of his accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR as both a championship owner and crew chief. Often humbly referring to himself as simply “a country mechanic,” in his nearly 40 years in NASCAR his cars were fast and dependable and powered some of NASCAR’s top drivers to success including fellow Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt (2010), David Pearson and Bobby Allison (2011), Buck Baker (2013), Fireball Roberts (2014), Joe Weatherly (2015), Bobby Isaac (2016), Benny Parsons (2017), and nominees Buddy Baker and Ricky Rudd, among others.

"Through all his professional racing success, Bud’s most significant contribution was to his country. As a raw 19 year old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Bud was among those who on June 6, 1944, landed on Utah Beach in France as a part of the D-Day invasion leading to the end of World War II and paving the way to preserve the freedoms our forefathers had fought for in the 1770s. His unit was a part of the command of legendary General George W. Patton. Bud’s service went far deeper than that one day receiving five, yes five, Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for his bravery and service.

"Bud became a personal friend over 30 years ago first through our mutual and dear friend Barney Hall, co-namesake of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, and then even more so over the last 10 plus years sharing NASCAR Hall of Fame endeavors. He was always quick to offer his support and assistance with any activity or appearance asked of him, including serving on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel since its inception. While we have lost one of NASCAR’s and the United States’ true pioneers and heroes, Bud’s legacy and memory will always be remembered, preserved, celebrated and cherished. Again, we offer our sincere condolences to the entire Moore family.”

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 General George W. Patton’s “Third Army,” which pushed to liberate Europe. In recognition of his heroism, Moore was decorated with five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars (the second with clusters).

Auto racing was a destination for many returning veterans. NASCAR was born in 1948 and Moore, as a South Carolinian who enjoyed fixing cars, would make the organization his life’s work. Referring to himself as “a country mechanic who loved to make ’em run fast,” Moore stood more than six 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 such top drivers as 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 Moore or Allison. Moore’s final NASCAR Cup Series victory came in May 1993 at Sonoma Raceway.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France issued the following statement on Moore's passing:

"Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration. 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.”

Moore is survived by sons Daryl (wife Carol), Brent (wife Nancy) and Greg (fiancé Roberta), 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 is also survived by brothers, Ralph, William, and Richard Moore and 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; the Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300; Jacksonville, Fla.; or Hearing Charities of America, Hearing Aid Project, 1912 East Meyer Boulevard, Kansas City, Mo., 64132.

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