by Steven M. Sweeney
June 8, 2005
NASCAR's Great Grandfather
Moore turns 93 today - the oldest living NASCAR driver - but he talks as if it happened yesterday.
"Two miles up the beach, two miles of blacktop going down. Sand on both ends - hairpin turns. On the backstretch you could get going with a lot of speed," Moore said smiling. But at 100 mph, the blacktop runs out fast.
"You had that sand on your mind every time."
For the farm boy from Frewsburg, working on tractors and building jalopies was commonplace. Only after a neighbor argued with him did Moore even think about racing.
"He said 'your car wouldn't stand going wide-open in second gear'", Moore said of the challenge. "I bet that it could."
Before long he was running his autos at dirt loops called "Satan's Bowl" and "Penny Royal". He got his start in big league stock car racing a little later when he asked Findley Lake Ford dealer Julian Buesink if he could join his friend, Bill Rexford, as one of Buesink's drivers.
Together, the three traveled around the country racing in places like Langhorne, PA and Daytona Beach, FL.
But the differences between then and now are close to the surface of the old driver's mind.
Dirt tracks have been replaced with motor racing temples in Daytona Beach and Pocono, PA. Pit crews have grown from a car owner and maybe another driver to elaborate mechanic teams which allows the drivers to walk away from the car after the race - something unheard of in the 1950s.
"We used to drive our cars to the race," Moore said. "Lots of times we had to fix 'em before we could come home."
He also marvels at the millions of dollars modern drivers can earn in a single race. Looking back, though, he didn't do too badly.
"I remember if we won, a purse might be $500," he said, noting purses were split between the driver and the car owner.
"By the time you got a share of that, well, we didn't have a pocket full of money. But then, a dollar was a dollar back then."
If he avoided wrecking his ride home, the prize money was more than enough to turn the car around for another race. All he needed was the car and about $100 for gas, reinforced wheels and steering rods.
"Nowadays it wouldn't even buy the suits the drivers wear," Moore laughed.
Drivers could otherwise spend their earnings selfishly. Moore wouldn't.
In the six years stock car racing took him from Indiana to Florida, his wife, Virginia, and six daughters grew a little older, his dependent parents a little more elderly. They always depended on him.
"I never regretted it," Moore said of racing. "But I hated to leave and was always glad to get home. I got my priorities straight. I had responsibilities here."
Happy At Home
Love for his family ultimately ended his racing career in 1955. He returned to Carroll and took a job in the Frewsburg School District as a bus driver and mechanic until retiring in 1974.
These days, he still tends to his cars and tractors at his Frew Run Road home - all Fords. He watches NASCAR on television, but he gets the biggest kick from young boys and girls discovering NASCAR - and Lloyd Moore - for the first time.
"In these last few years, kids would scribble down on paper saying they want my autograph, they want my name," he said of a dozen or so letters he's received. "I wouldn't trade them in for a million bucks."
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.