Bud Moore Engineering

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Staff Writer

For 50 years, the name Bud Moore has been synonymous with stock car racing.

He has been involved in NASCAR as a crew chief or as a team owner for more than two-thirds of his life.

On Friday, a half-century in the sport he loved more than life ended as he announced Bud Moore Engineering had been sold to another race team for an undisclosed amount.

Moore, 74, will stay on as a consultant for Fenley Motorsports, and owner Robert Fenley of Stockton, Calif., when they officially move their operations to Spartanburg next week.

But it won't be the same.

"It's a disappointment that we had

to sell," Moore said. "But the deal we're making is going to be good for us and good for the new guys.

"It hurts because I've been sitting here not going to the races."

It's been a frustrating past 30 months for the entire Moore team and family.

After losing its primary sponsorship on the No. 15 Ford late in the 1996 season, Moore has been searching for a way to get back on the track with a competitive car ever since.

Meanwhile, the team has only tried to qualify for five of the past 84 races -making two of them.

"We've sort of just been sitting on the sidelines, but you can't stop progress," Moore said. "At least I feel like I won't be sitting home. I'll be going to some of the races."

The team got optimistic over several potential deals over the past two seasons. But, at the last minute, all of them fell through.

The latest deal that seemed like a sure thing was a three-year sponsorship with American Veterans - fitting for the World War II Navy veteran.

Everyone on the team believed the deal was going to materialize - until it was voted down three weeks ago.

"When we left, we were sure it was going to happen. Then, we found out that it was voted down - I think by only one vote. It was disgusting," team manager Greg Moore said.

Once that deal fell through, it was time for the team to think more than ever about selling, Greg Moore said.

"Without a sponsor, without a plan, you can't run this thing," he said. "We think it's time for the Moores to get out."

The new owners are planning a lot of changes around the Fairview Avenue shop, including a technology center and possibly a Bud Moore museum.

While all three Moores - Bud, Greg and Daryl - have been asked to stay on as consultants, the team's number will be 62, not 15.

"It's an emotional deal for me, Bud and Daryl. Under the circumstances, we feel like it's the smartest thing to do," Greg Moore said. "It's best for the Moore family, but we're going to stay on as consultants."

Jeff Davis, an experienced Winston West driver who has competed in seven Winston Cup races in his career, is the team's driver at the moment and will attempt to qualify the car for five races this season - starting next week.

Fenley Motorsports' new crew chief, Joe Snyder, said the team has already tested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will attempt to qualify for next weekend's Brickyard 400.

Snyder said the team owners, who couldn't be reached for comment Friday night, could have bought other teams or started their own, but like Moore's shop because of the location and history.

"We're happy to be here in Spartanburg, and we're looking forward to it. We were all wanted to be a little secluded from everything else going on," said Snyder, who has worked with Winston Cup teams for several years upgrading their technology.

"We wanted to retain the ambiance of Bud Moore, but also build a higher technology-based Winston Cup team to bring the team up to the next level."

Moore's racing career has been a long and storied one.

He began his racing life with good friend Joe Eubanks. After the two returned home from World War II, they bought a car and went racing in small towns around the South.

On Labor Day weekend in 1950, the two officially joined the ranks of NASCAR when they entered a car in the first Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Eubanks as driver and Moore as crew chief.

The two raced together for several years before Moore began building cars for more established drivers. Buck Baker enjoyed driving his cars in 1956 and 1957 - winning the points title both years.

By the early 1960s, Moore owned his own race team, building his shop in Spartanburg. Joe Weatherly drove for him in 1961 and 1962 and won the points titles both years.

Thirty-six years as a successful car owner brought the best names in stock car racing to Spartanburg - Billy Wade, Cale Yarborough, Curtis Turner, Bobby Allison, Tiny Lund, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd.

It also brought 63 wins to the Bud Moore Engineering team, making it the fourth-winningest team in NASCAR history.

All of that went for naught late in his career, however, as the price of sponsorship skyrocketed and legendary owners and drivers were having a tougher time competing at the highest level.

One option for NASCAR to maintain a relationship with its older teams would have been to franchise the teams, limiting the available destinations for sponsorship dollars. But, NASCAR has made no such attempt.

Not doing more to keep the sport's founders active in the sport has finally drawn NASCAR the ire of team manager Greg Moore.

"I don't know that NASCAR gives a damn about the people who built the sport anyway. So, we might as well get out now," he said. "Maybe in a couple more years, NASCAR will get rid of all of us old folks, and they can run the sport like they want to."

For his part, Bud Moore does not seem that bitter about what's going on in NASCAR. Instead, he's just happy with the wonderful career he's had.

His favorite moments include winning the 1978 Daytona 500 with Bobby Alison, winning three straight races at Talladega with Buddy Baker and winning back-to-back championships with Weatherly.

"I really enjoyed it," he said. "I had a great career in NASCAR. We really built the sport to what it is today."

 

 
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