International Motorsports & NASCAR Hall of Famer, World War II Hero Was 92
TALLADEGA, AL – Five-time Talladega Superspeedway winning team owner and International Motorsports Hall of Famer Walter “Bud” Moore Jr., has died at age 92.
Moore, a Spartanburg, S.C., native who won the NASCAR premier series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car owner titles in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly, was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. He then joined the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
A decorated member of America’s “Greatest Generation,” Moore’s five triumphs at Talladega were with fellow International Motorsports Hall of Famers’ Buddy Baker and Dale Earnhardt Sr., along with the leader of the famed Alabama Gang – Bobby Allison. Baker reeled off an incredible three straight victories during 1975-76, a record that stood until Dale Earnhardt Jr. eclipsed the mark with four consecutive from 2001-2003. Allison claimed his win in May of 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 blue-collar 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.”
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. His team last competed at the beginning of the 2000 season.
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 Earnhardt, Allison (runner-up in 1978 and third in 1979), Buddy Baker, Ricky Rudd, Benny Parsons, and Morgan Shephard. Each managed to finish among the top 10 in the championship standings at least once.
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. He 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, NC 27317; Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300; Jacksonville, FL or Hearing Charities of America, Hearing Aid Project, 1912 East Meyer Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64132.