Bud Moore, A True NASCAR Legend
Bud Moore and his two best friends, Joe Eubanks and Cotton Owens entered the United States Military at about the same time. Each man served this country with great honor and all received their discharges around the same time after World War II.
Owens started driving a racecar not long after coming home, while Moore and Eubanks opened a used car business.
“Joe Eubanks and I had a used car lot over on the Asheville Highway. One day this fellow from Landrum, that ran a race track, brought in an old race car. We took it in on a trade and it just sat on the lot for a few days. Cotton was already racing so I told Joe we should take this one out to a track to try it out,” said Moore. “Well, Joe and I pulled it up the road to the Hendersonville racetrack. I made a few laps and I just about tore the fence down a couple of times. Joe got in it and ran pretty good. He made the main event and finished fifth. So Joe kept driving and I started working on the car,” Moore said.
Moore soon came up with a combination that had that little flat-head Ford V-8 dominating the old Columbia Speedway.
“We won 13 races in row down there. One night, Buddy Shuman asked me if he could take a lap in my car, just so he could lay a sandal on that gas pedal. I told him to ask Eubanks to make sure he didn’t mind. Joe said let him take it out, so I did. He turned a few slow laps then opened it up pretty good. Shuman drove back in the pits and told his crew, that was standing around his car, to load that heap up, because they didn’t have a chance! Well, we won that night by a straight-a-way or better, Shuman ran third!!” said a happy Moore.
Moore’s abilities as a mechanic grew, and he was a part of Buck Baker’s championship run in 1957, serving as crew chief.
Later, he teamed up with the Jack Smith. They carried a Pontiac down to Daytona for the July race in 1960, which at the time was 250 miles. Smith won the pole at a speed of 152.129 and went on to win the race, which was ran without any caution flags, at what was then a world record for a closed course race, at the speed of 146.842.
“Jack Smith did a heck of job for us. He was one of the best drivers ever. I am glad he drove my cars, but I am especially glad he was my friend,’ said Moore.
Joe Weatherly started driving for Moore in 1961, forming one of the most successful driver/owner combinations in NASCAR. During his time in Moore’s car, Weatherly won 20 races and two NASCAR Championships.
Bud Moore didn’t have to look far down the road to see what the competition was doing. His friend Cotton Owens was fielding some very fast Mopars, including numerous race wins and a championship with Spartanburg driver David Pearson.
“Cotton and I always wanted to out run each other cars, but we would help each other too,” said Moore.
A few years, and many laps on down the road, a giant of a man, Tiny Lund, wheeled a Bud Moore prepared Mercury Cougar to the NASCAR Grand American Division Championship. The combination was almost unstoppable, as they won half of the races on the schedule in 1968.
The year before, Moore‘s team entered those Cougars in the Trans-Am Series. With Parnelli Jones and George Follmer at the wheel, they combined for four wins in the eleven race schedule, and if not for a problem with some batteries, they would have won the championship.
“We were convinced by some folks from Dearborn, to switch to smaller batteries, to save about 40 pounds of weight. The cars ran well, but the batteries could not re-start the car during pit stops, so we lost that championship,” said Moore. In 1967 on the Trans-Am circuit, when a driver brought the car in for a pit stop, he had to shut off the engine. The smaller batteries would not re-start the car.
During the 1970 season, Moore’s team got their revenge, winning over half the races. Parnelli Jones picked up five wins to propel the Bud Moore prepared Mustang’s to the Trans-Am Series Championship.
Peter Gregg, continued the winning ways of the Moore team, picking up three wins in 1971. Moore decided to come back to his roots, and run NASCAR full time.
“We ran off and on in NASCAR during the Trans-Am years. They only ran a dozen or so races, so we kept some NASCAR stuff ready at the shop,” Moore said.
Seeing that the big block motors where on the way out, Moore, with help from Banjo Matthews, started working on race cars designed to run the smaller 351 cubic inch Windsor engines.
This combination, along with the large and heavy right foot of Buddy Baker, propelled the Moore team back into the NASCAR Winner’s Circle. At the track that should have been a home field event for Bud Moore, the Talladega Super-Speedway that was originally planned to be built here in Spartanburg, Baker won three consecutive races in 1975-1976.
“Bud Moore could make a car drive so well on the big tracks. It was a true pleasure to drive for him,” said NASCAR legendary driver and broadcaster Buddy Baker.
Moore saw his Ford’s go back to the Talladega Winner’s circle two more times. In 1979, Bobby Allison, who won the Daytona 500 for Moore the year before, picked his way through a massive 17 car pile up to win the Winston 500. Then in the summer of 1983, Dale Earnhardt powered by Darrell Waltrip to pick up his first ever Talladega win, with a little drafting help from Bobby Allison.
Ricky Rudd, Morgan Shepard, and Geoff Bodine had driving stints for Moore during the 80’s and 90’s. Rudd was always consistent and picked up six wins for Bud Moore. Shepard led the points standing a few weeks in 1990 and picked up a win at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Geoff Bodine won in his first start for Bud Moore, taking the checkered flag in the Busch Clash. Bodine won two point races for Moore in 1992. Those two wins came in rain –delayed races that were ran on Monday. Bodine won at Martinsville and then the next week he lapped the field at North Wilkesboro. This win allowed Bud Moore’s Motorcraft Thunderbird to secure the Manufacturers Championship for Ford. It was their first in over 25 years.
The following year, Bodine weaved his way through traffic to win at the Sears Point Road course. This was the last time a Bud Moore car picked up a win.
Over the years, Moore and his friend Cotton Owens, learned from on track incidents to help make the sport they loved safer. They made cars faster. They made engines last longer. Bud Moore and Cotton Owens made their hometown proud.