Greg Moore

April 22, 1975 - October 31, 1999  
Greg Moore
Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.

His early racing career progressed through kart racing, winning the North American Enduro Kart Championships in 1989 and 1990. Moore also played ice hockey while growing up in and around Vancouver. He played on the same peewee team as future NHL star Paul Kariya. Moore first started racing go-karts, and would move up to Formula Ford cars in 1991. He was named the Esso Protec Formula Ford 1600 Rookie of the Year after winning one race and placing fourth in the overall championship. In 1992, he won four races and took four pole positions. He was the USAC Formula 2000 West Champion and Rookie of the Year.

The following year, Moore began racing in the Indy Lights circuit. Despite racing with an under-funded, family-run team, he placed ninth in the 1993 Indy Lights Championship. At the age of 18, Moore became the youngest driver ever to win a CART-sanctioned race when he won the 1994 Indy Lights season-opener at Phoenix. He won three Lights races in 1994 and finished third in the championship.

Moore joined the Player's Forsythe racing team and won the 1995 Indy Lights Championship with a spectacular record-setting season that saw him win 10 of 12 races, including five in a row. Moore's link with British American Tobacco through their Player's brand continued through much of his career. Player's was a popular sponsor in Canadian motorsport until the Canadian Federal Legislation banned tobacco advertising outright in 2003.

In 1996 at the age of 20, Moore graduated to CART when the Player's Forsythe racing team promoted him to the top-level series. His rookie season included a second-place finish at Nazareth, third at Cleveland and fourth in Toronto. Greg finished 9th overall in the championship with 84 points and was runner-up to Alex Zanardi for the Jim Truman Rookie of the Year award.

Moore started the 1997 season well, earning 2nd-place finishes at races in Surfers Paradise and the Rio 500. At the 7th race of the season in Milwaukee, Moore became the youngest driver in Indy-car racing history at that time to win a race. At the age of  22, Moore scored his first CART victory, beating Michael Andretti by less than one second. Seven days later, Moore scored his 2nd career victory in an exciting and dramatic race at Detroit. Starting the final lap in 3rd place, he passed both cars of the PacWest Racing team, when both Maurício Gugelmin and Mark Blundell ran out of fuel in front of him. Moore and his team 7th in the Championship with 111 points.

In 1998, Moore was paired with fellow Canadian Patrick Carpentier, and started the year strongly with three top 5 finishes in the first 4 races. The 5th race of the season at Rio de Janeiro, Moore diced and raced hard against Alex Zanardi, before a dramatic outside pass sealed the win. Later in the season, at Michigan he passed Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser on the last lap to win the US 500 and the Vanderbilt Cup award. Moore finished the year fifth overall with 141 points.

The 1999 season started off very well for Moore, with a win at Homestead, his 5th career and final win in the CART series. He led the championship for the first few races, but an uncompetitive Mercedes engine, and poor results ensured that again he would not win the championship. 

As 1999 was the final year of his contract with Player's-Forsythe racing, he began to look at his options for the coming seasons. In the summer of 1999, Moore announced he had signed a contract to race in 2000 for one of the powerhouse teams, Penske Racing. However, on October 31, 1999, his promising career and his life came to an abrupt end when he was fatally injured in a violent crash on the tenth lap of the CART season finale, the "Marlboro 500", at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calafornia, USA. 

During the weekend before the race, Moore was knocked off his motor scooter by a paddock vehicle and injured his right hand. Unsure that he would be able to race, Player's-Forsythe hired Roberto Moreno as an emergency backup driver. After a medical consultation, and an in-car test, he was allowed to race using a hand brace, starting from the back of the grid because his team had missed qualifying.

Following an early race restart, on lap nine of the race, Moore lost control of his car in the exit of turn 2 and spun into the infield grass at more than 200 mph. His car hit an access road and was tripped over to strike the infield concrete wall sideways with the top of the car directly facing the wall at unabated speed. Moore was critically injured in the crash and was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The race continued and Adrian Fernandez won. At the pronouncement of Moore's death, the Auto Club Speedway ordered all track flags at half staff. Also, CART ordered that there would be no victory celebrations for either the race, or the newly decided championship. Player's Forsythe racing ordered their other driver, Patrick Carpentier, into the pits and retired Patrick's car mid-race. All other drivers were unaware of Moore's death until the end of the race. At the request of Moore's father, Ric Moore, the CART end-of-season awards banquet continued as scheduled on the following night, although its format was changed out of respect for the families of Moore and Gonzalo Rodríguez, another CART driver who was killed in a crash earlier in the season at Laguna Seca Raceway. Almost 6 laps before Moore's ill-fated lap, driver Richie Hearn had crashed in exactly the same location. The skidmark pattern was nearly identical, both drivers having struck the inside wall. Hearn walked away, and Moore did not. Moreover, a strong northerly wind was blowing that day, creating a cross wind down the backstretch where both incidents occurred.

Moore was a well-liked driver by both racing fans and members of the CART racing community. Makeshift memorials were started at his former high school, Pitt Meadows Secondary School, and at Greg's father's car dealership. The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in Toronto also had a small memorial with a condolence book for people to sign.

A private memorial service was held on November 3, 1999 at St. Andrews Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver and was attended by 1,200 family members and close friends, including Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, and Jacques Villeneuve. Another public funeral service was held in Greg's hometown of Maple Ridge on November 4, 1999, and was attended by more than 1,500 people. The church was full and consequently a tent with TV screens and speakers was set up outside the church for many others who attended but could not get inside.

Moore's car number 99, was retired by CART as a mark of respect after his death. Also a trophy would be presented annually called the Greg Moore Legacy Award. It is given every year to a driver who best typifies Moore's legacy of outstanding talent on track, as well as displaying a dynamic personality with fans, media, and within the CART community. As Greg was a product of the CART Ladder System, having competed in the Indy Lights Championship from 1993–95 and won the series title in 1995, drivers from The Atlantic Championship series were also eligible for the award. The award was purchased by Bridgestone, which in 2008 began sponsoring the award, giving it to a deserving Indy Lights driver. Moore was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2000.

Moore was responsible for introducing Dario Franchitti to his future wife, actress Ashley Judd. Moore brought Franchitti to a party hosted by his friend, actor and fellow Vancouver native Jason Priestley. It was at that party that Franchitti met Judd. Franchitti dedicated his win in the Molson Indy Vancouver in 2002 to Moore's memory. When Franchitti won the last IRL race at the Auto Club Speedway in 2005, the Andretti Green Racing team drove their cars to the exit of Turn 2, where Moore had his fatal crash, for their victory celebration. After winning his second IndyCar championship, an emotional Franchitti dedicated his win to Moore ten years on from his death. During pole day for the 2012 Indy 500, fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe raced with Greg's glove giving the fallen driver his first laps at the Brickyard.

Moore is remembered in his hometown. Banners in tribute to him hang in the schools he attended, Meadowridge School and Pitt Meadows Secondary. The Maple Ridge Youth Centre, opened in 2003, was named the Greg Moore Youth Centre in his honour. The McDonald's on the Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge has a trophy case with memorabilia dedicated to Moore. Ridge-Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge also has the Emergency department named after him. There is a Go-Kart track in Chilliwack named "Greg Moore Raceway". His father Ric Moore, an active member of the community, continues his legacy through the Greg Moore Foundation. 

Moore's remains are interred at Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
 A memorial stone is placed beside a tree with writing that briefly discusses his childhood and the incidents surrounding his death. A memorial granite bench is also placed nearby.

In July 2013, Moore was named by Autosport magazine as one of the 50 greatest drivers to have never raced in Formula One.

Dan Proudfoot's book; Greg Moore: A Legacy of Spirit tells the story of this remarkable young athlete. Through photographs and memorabilia that trace the his life and career, we are given a lasting image of a life lived well, but far too short.

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1 comment:

Jens said...

really a nice blog here :) Greg Moore was one of my favoirute drivers back in the Old CART days, he was outstanding. Kind Regards from Germany