South Carolina Legends Ready to Head to Hall of Fame
By: Jared Turner
DARLINGTON, S.C. (April 20, 2011) – Already long linked by their hometowns and distinguished place as NASCAR legends, David Pearson and Bud Moore are now mentioned in the same breath for another reason.
As revealed last October, the two Spartanburg, S.C., natives are set to enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame together this May as part of the second five-member class.
Their forthcoming induction is certainly well-deserved. Moore, easily the most accomplished team owner of his era, fielded cars that earned two Sprint Cup Series championships, 63 race wins, 298 top-five and 463 top-10 finishes over 37 years in the sport.
One of Moore’s drivers was Pearson, whose 105 victories are second only to Richard Petty’s 200.
Pearson, a three-time champion and the undisputed master of Darlington Raceway with 10 triumphs in 47 starts at the fabled egg-shaped oval, made three of his 574 career starts in cars owned by Moore.
The first came in 1962 at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Pearson started 10th and finished 11th out of 44 cars. Pearson made two additional starts for Moore a decade later, finishing 26th at Riverside and fourth at Atlanta in 1972.
Though they never won together, both men set a standard – one as a driver, the other as an owner – that few have been able to touch. And nowhere did they shine more than Darlington Raceway, a home track of sorts for the native South Carolinians.
While Pearson is almost universally revered as the best driver to ever log laps around the challenging 1.366-mile track, Moore also enjoyed his share of Darlington success as an owner.
Moore conquered Darlington three times, including in the 1966 Southern 500, with three different drivers – Joe Weatherly (1963), Darel Dieringer (1966) and Dale Earnhardt (1982). Moore’s drivers notched a total of 29 top-10s, including 14 top-fives, and led 972 laps in 71 starts at the track “Too Tough To Tame.”
Driving for the legendary Holman-Moody team, Pearson won for the first time at Darlington in spring 1968 and returned to Victory Lane in the same event two years later. Pearson’s Darlington dominance continued after joining the Wood Brothers in 1972 as he won the track’s annual spring race in three consecutive seasons. Pearson completed the Darlington sweep in 1976, finally claiming a coveted SHOWTIME Southern 500 trophy that fall.
Pearson’s final trip to Darlington Winner’s Circle with the Wood Brothers came in the 1977 SHOWTIME Southern 500. The “Silver Fox,” as Pearson was widely known, won at Darlington twice more – in fall 1979 and spring 1980 – driving for team owners Rod Osterlund and Hoss Ellington, respectively. He led 2,116 laps at the “Lady in Black” and tallied 30 top-10s, including 24 top-fives. Pearson’s Darlington wins came with a trio of manufacturers in Ford, Mercury and Chevrolet.
Surprisingly left out of the first Hall of Fame class, Pearson will have his day in May when the second class is enshrined in Charlotte, N.C.
Upon the announcement of his imminent inclusion, Pearson said he was pleased to be elected “because you never know what’s going to happen. It makes you feel good, and I’m glad and proud of it.”
His omission from the inaugural Hall class raised some eyebrows in the NASCAR community. Ninety four percent of those voting for the second class included Pearson on their ballot.
“Now I’m in, and I appreciate it,” Pearson said last October.
Equally appreciative is Moore, whose relatively early Hall selection came as more of a surprise. Only 45 percent of those voting for the second class had Moore on their ballot, but it was enough to get the former World War II infantryman in.
“I couldn’t believe that they did call my name, and that I’m going in,” said Moore, who entered NASCAR in 1961 and won back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963 with Weatherly.
“Especially with (fellow 2011 inductees) David Pearson and Bobby Allison, the two that both drove race cars for me. Me going in at the same time with them, I guess, is the biggest thrill of my lifetime. ... That’s something I’m so thrilled about I just don’t know how to say it.”
Moore’s last year as a car owner was 2000, some 14 years after Pearson hung up his driving helmet.
In addition to Pearson, Allison, 2010 Hall inductee Earnhardt and Weatherly, Moore’s cars attracted other drivers now considered among NASCAR’s best ever. They include Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip, Benny Parsons, Tiny Lund and Bobby Isaac.
Moore also won the championship as a crew chief for Buck Baker in 1957.
“I was lucky enough to be in the sport and see Bud Moore as an owner, and he was one of those kind of rare guys that just really had a great seat of the pants deal and he was a very, very, hands-on car owner and he was a competitive son of a gun,” said Andy Petree, a two-time Sprint Cup champion crew chief with Dale Earnhardt and now a NASCAR analyst for ESPN.
“He’d go to that track and he didn’t want anybody beating him. He was very competitive, and I also saw him as somebody who could do a lot with a little. He had good sponsors and Ford backing and all that but back then it was really hard for anybody to have big money and he did a lot with what he had. He really did. He could get the most out of his cars and he had a knack for picking the right guys to drive them.”
One of those guys – Pearson – went on to become arguably the greatest driver of all time.
“I guess I am,” Pearson said after being voted into the Hall. “That’s what Richard [Petty] says. If you don’t think you’re the best, you don’t have any business being out there because you’re going to get beat. Whoever you think is the best is going to beat you.”
Nowhere was Pearson harder to beat than Darlington.
“I think hands-down Pearson was the Darlington master,” Petree said. “That’s saying a lot … but Pearson was hands-down the best.”
You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame.
Darlington Raceway, or the track Too Tough To Tame as it is known to many, is where the purest of NASCAR competition meets true southern hospitality. A NASCAR staple since 1950, Darlington Raceway has seen some of motorsports most talented drivers thunder to Gatorade Victory Lane. On Mother’s Day weekend, May 6-7, 2011, NASCAR’s biggest stars return to battle the track Too Tough To Tame in the Sprint Cup Series SHOWTIME Southern 500® and Nationwide Series Royal Purple 200.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Darlington Raceway ticket office at 866-459-RACE or online at http://www.darlingtonraceway.com/tickets/.