Moore, who died on November 27, 2017 in his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina at the age of 92, took part in the D-Day Normandy invasion and was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for heroic actions and five Purple Hearts for being injured in combat over the course of his career in the Army.
After the war, Moore won a NASCAR title in 1957 as a crew chief before staring his own racing team in 1961. He won back-to-back titles as an owner and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
After Moore’s death, Brian France, who was NASCAR’s acting CEO at the time, had this to say about the auto racing legend and American hero.
“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.”
Rest in peace, Bud.
Bud Moore: NASCAR Icon and American Hero
Walter Maynard “Bud” Moore Jr. famously referred to himself as “an old country mechanic who loved to make ’em run fast,” and there is really no better way to describe the NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Born May 25, 1925 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Moore started racing cars by the age of 14, immediately after he got his driver’s license. However, he had to put his racing aspirations on hold, after he was drafted into the United States military a week after his 18th birthday. Bud was a machine gunner in the U.S. Army, and, as part of the 4th Infantry Division, he participated in the Normandy landings, during which he landed on Utah Beach. Moore, who also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was formally discharged on November 15, 1945.
Immediately after his discharge, Bud went right back into his passion: cars. He and his high school friend, Joe Eubanks, opened up a used car business together, working on cars that were used in moonshine running. Eventually, they sold a 1939 Ford for a race car, and that’s when Bud’s racing career officially took off.
After moving to NASCAR in 1950, Moore got his first taste of major success as a crew chief. Moore won 49 races during his crew chief career, including back-to-back Grand National Series championships with Buddy Baker in ’56 and ’57.
In the ’60s, Moore kicked off his career as a team owner by opening Bud Moore Engineering. During the team’s first year of operation in 1961, it fielded cars for Fireball Roberts, Tommy Irwin, Joe Weatherly, and Cotton Owens (who Moore had known since high school). Success came almost instantly. In ’61, Weatherly racked up a second-place finish at the Daytona 500. In ’62 and ’63, he won the Grand National championship.
Throughout his incredible career, Moore went on to field such Cup Series racers as Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Bobby Isaac, Ricky Rudd, Tiny Lund, Benny Parsons, and Billy Wade. Talk about being in the company of greatness.
As a result of his impressive NASCAR career, Moore won a number of accolades, including inductions into the Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame (2002), International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2009), and the NASCAR Hall of Fame (2011).
On top of his success as a NASCAR team owner, Moore was also a devout family man. After returning from WWII, he married his high school sweetheart, Betty Clark, and the couple had three sons — Greg, Daryl, and Brent — and five grandchildren. Clearly, Bud Moore’s legacy goes far beyond the sport of auto racing.
This post was originally published on November 28, 2018.