by Bob Moore
Bud Moore didn't have dreams of becoming a Hall of Fame mechanic or car owner growing up in Spartanburg, SC. In fact, he and close friend Joe Eubanks didn't know a whole lot about stock car racing when they decided to try their hand at it in 1947. Moore had come home from WWII a hero after receiving five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.
"Joe and I had gone to high school together," recalls Moore. "He went into the Navy and I went into the Army. After we were discharged, we began buying and selling used cars." Shortly thereafter they acquired a "modified stock car, a '39 Ford which we took in on a trade for another car and that's how we got started in racing.
"Initially, I was going to drive it and Joe was to be the crew chief. I ran a few laps, and I spun out and went through the fence. I decided right then that driving wasn't for me. That's why I got into being a mechanic."
With Eubanks as driver, the team started winning immediately. Although they competed in the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950, they concentrated mainly on the modified circuit. That began changing in the mid-50's. In 1956, Moore built cars for Buck Baker and Speedy Thompson. Thompson won the 1957 Southern 500 and Baker won the championship. Pontiac signed Moore for the 1961 season. His driver was 2009 MSHFA inductee Joe Weatherly. They ran 24 races that year, winning eight. In '62 and '63, they ran almost every race with Weatherly capturing back-to-back titles. He was killed in an accident at Riverside early in the 1964 season.
"Joe was one great race driver," says Moore. "When it was time to crawl into that race car, Joe was all racer. But out of the car, he was sort of a clown. He loved to pull jokes on people. There was never a dull moment when Weatherly was around."
Later in the '60s Ford decided they wanted Moore to take his talents to the Trans-Am circuit. Moore's Mustangs won the 1970 championship with Parnelli Jones and George Follmer.
Moore returned to NASCAR full-time in '72. His last full season was 1996. Moore noted that he lost his enthusiasm for the sport "after we lost our friend (Dale Earnhardt in 2001)." Moore calls Earnhardt, who drove for him during the 1982 and '83 seasons, the "best ever. His skills were unbelievable. He was just one hell of a race driver."
In looking back at his Hall of Fame career, Moore said, "I have a lot of great memories and great wins. My first win with Earnhardt (at Darlington) is one I'll always remember."
"The Daytona 500 win with (Bobby) Allison in 1978 probably ranks at the top of my list (of victories). And those three straight with (Buddy) Baker at Talladega (in 1975-76) – those were pretty special.
"It was a great 50-plus years."