Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In The Rearview Mirror: Bud Moore, Purple Hearts and NASCAR Innovator

This week, I continue looking In The Rearview Mirror at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2011 Inductees. This week, we look back at the career of Walter “Bud” Moore.

Bud Moore HoF Headshot
Bud Moore's Hall of Fame headshot 
Credit: NASCAR Media
Walter “Bud” Moore was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in May 1925. At the age of 18, young Moore joined the United States Army in the midst of World War II. Bud became a machine gunner and was stationed on the front lines, going ashore on D-Day, June 6, 1944.


Moore had many accolades while in the Army, including two Bronze Stars, one of which he received for capturing a German headquarters during the Battle of the Bulge. That siege netted not only 15 German soldiers but four officers as well. Moore was later promoted to sergeant and during his time in the Army he received five Purple hearts from injuries sustained during combat.


NASCAR was born in the post-war era, 1948, and many war veterans took to the up-and-coming sport. Bud Moore was no exception, and it was fitting too since he was known in his Army days for working with the engineering of vehicles.


Bud Moore began as a mechanic, working his way up the ladder to become a crew chief and eventual owner in the NASCAR Grand National Series (current-day Sprint Cup).


Moore had his first taste of victory lane in the 1957 Southern 500, when a car driven by Speedy Thompson won the race. Bud Moore had prepared that car. As a crew chief, Moore worked with Buck Baker and together they won the 1957 Grand National Championship.


Bud branched out in 1961 founding his own NASCAR team, Bud Moore Engineering. Moore partnered with Joe Weatherly, a driver who had already found success in NASCAR. Weatherly ran all but three races in the 1961 season with Bud Moore, collecting eight wins and went on to finish fourth in their first season together.
Weatherly and Moore again paired for the 1962 and '63 seasons, winning 12 races. They won back-to-back Grand National Series championships those years as well.


Weatherly returned again in 1964, looking to repeat his winning ways, but that would not happen. Racing at Riverside International Raceway in California, the car experienced transmission problems early in the race. After that was repaired, Joe continued on only to have his brakes go out, causing him to hit the wall head on. Joe Weatherly died instantly. 


Bud Moore considered calling it quits after Joe’s death, but he continued on and signed Billy Wade to continue on in his place. Wade went onto garner four wins and completed the season fourth in points.
Billy Wade unfortunately had the same untimely fate that Joe Weatherly did. Wade died during a January 1965 tire test at Daytona International Speedway when his car spun on the backstretch and he hit the wall head on. It was the lap belt in the car that caused fatal injuries to his internal organs.


After Wade's death, Moore pioneered NASCAR’s newest safety innovation, the shoulder harness. The harness is a staple even today in all forms of auto racing, all thanks to Bud Moore.


Bud Moore Engineering had some quiet years until 1975, when Bud realized it was nine years since their last win and more needed to be done. Bud starting using a dynamometer (dyno for short) to process his engines and check what was missing. Engines were inspected, win or lose. and notes were logged on every detail.


Moore had Buddy Baker driving for him in 1975, and after using the dyno, he returned to victory lane. Baker defeated Richard Petty at the hallowed grounds of Talladega. Baker continued driving for Moore until the end of the '77 season. Upon leaving Moore told Baker, “You’ll regret this.”


Looking back on his time with Moore, Baker said: “Bud Moore was my hero for what he did in the Army, but he’s also my hero in everyday life too.”


Those famous words - "You’ll regret this” - came back to bite Baker. Moore and driver Bobby Allison began working together in 1980. Bobby has wrecked his car in the qualifying race and was ready to pack up and go home; to his surprise, Moore and the team fully repaired his heavily damaged car. Allison went onto race in the Daytona 500, fighting with Buddy Baker for the win. Baker was leading when all of sudden his engine blew up, handing the lead over to Allison. Bobby Allison went on to win the Daytona 500 driving for Bud Moore Engineering.


Moore had many famed drivers in his car at one time or another: Baker, Allison, Cale Yarbrough, Darrell Waltrip and even Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Ricky Rudd.
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
Bud Moore Engineering lasted 50 years in the sport of NASCAR, had 68 wins and three championships to its name ... all because of one man and his innovations in a sport he loved. Walter “Bud” Moore will join the Class of 2011 as they are inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23.


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Amanda takes NASCAR seriously and is willing to pass up other activities to watch the boys have at it. NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two main focuses with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also frequently writes the post-race recaps for Skirts and Scuffs. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter.

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