Bud Moore's tough ways fostered victories
Friday, May. 20, 2011
Gen. George C. Patton would have been proud of Bud Moore.
Through five decades, from 1950 into the '90s, Moore commanded his NASCAR teams in the same manner Patton led his troops in World War II.
Patton's soldiers in the Third Army included Sgt. Walter E. "Bud" Moore of Spartanburg, S.C., a combat infantryman who left Europe with two Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts.
Moore was demanding, gruff, tough and unyielding in his way of doing things.
"Bud was the boss," says Buddy Baker, who had two fine seasons driving for Moore in 1975-76. "That became apparent the minute you walked into his shop to join the team.
"He let you know right off that it was his way or the highway.
"I was well aware of that way beforehand. My dad, Buck, had worked with Bud. So I knew how it was going to be, and I accepted it.
"And why not?
"Nowadays the top NASCAR operations have specialists for everything. Bud didn't need those guys. He could do it all himself. He had an amazing wealth of general knowledge about racing and race cars."
Through the years Moore fielded cars on NASCAR's major circuit for approximately 40 different drivers. A dozen of them won for him, amassing 63 victories in all.
The triumphs included wins in stock car racing's biggest events - the Daytona 500, Charlotte's World 600, Darlington's Southern 500 and 500-milers at the Alabama track now known as Talladega Superspeedway.
His cars won Grand National (now the Cup series) championships in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly as driver. Moore previously was crew chief on Buck Baker's title team in 1957.
Especially memorable in the long racing career of Moore is the 1978 Daytona 500.
Buddy Baker had left the Moore operation to join a team owned by Georgian M.C. Anderson. Bobby Allison was hired by Bud to take over his white and blue No. 15 Fords.
With only a few laps remaining, the 500 had developed into a dramatic duel between Baker and Allison for the victory. The two had started well back in the field, but had charged to the front.
A tangle between Allison and Baker in a qualifying race had forced them almost to the rear of a 41-car lineup. "Bud's was the last car in the world I wanted to hit," Baker had moaned.
Now they were in a tight draft for the most cherished checkered flag in NASCAR.
With five laps left Baker's engine failed, leaving Allison home-free for the victory.
It was the first Daytona 500 triumph for both Allison and Moore.
"I'm so tickled I can't see straight," said a beaming Allison. "I've been coming here since I was a little boy and after so many years of trying I'm really tickled to win this race.
"Give a tremendous amount of credit to Bud. The car ran perfectly the whole race."
Another driver who won for Moore is Ricky Rudd. He wheeled the No. 15 Fords 1984-87, winning at least one race each of the four seasons.
"It was an absolute honor for me to be hired by Bud," says Rudd. "I held a tremendous amount of respect for the man."
The Rudd-Moore pairing got off to a horrendous start.
In their very first race together, the Busch Clash special event at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 12, 1984, Rudd was swept into terrible crash, his car tumbling several times.
Rudd was badly bruised, especially about the eyes, which swelled shut. He also was worried.
"I was afraid that Bud would lose confidence in me," Rudd now says.
In an extreme show of courage and toughness, Rudd had Moore tape his eyes open so that he could run in the 500. Despite the handicap, he finished seventh. And with tape still holding up his eyelids, Rudd won for Moore the very next weekend at Richmond.
Moore greatly appreciated Ricky's grit. Rudd's worry about "no confidence" evaporated.
Rudd continues to relish his seasons with the Spartanburg team.
Buddy Baker offers an anecdote about how Moore abided no challenge to his way of doing things.
"This driver - I'm not going to say who - had joined Bud and they started off real well," said Baker. "Through five races they had finished in the top 10 every time.
"Well, the guy goes to Bud and says, 'I want you to put shorter trailing arms on the cars. That will make them handle better.'
"Without hesitation Bud replied, 'You get some shorter trailing arms and then go pick out one of my cars. Take the car to your shop and put on the trailing arms. Then you can drive that car the rest of the year. I'll get someone else to drive mine the way I want to set them up.'
"Of course, the shorter trailing arms idea was dropped by the driver right away.
"You did not mess with Bud Moore."
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