Modified Mustangs & Fords
The Legacy Of Bud Moore
Forty Years After His Trans-Am Championship, The Memory Still Remains
That set the stage for the 1970 Trans-Am race season, which is still arguably called the greatest year of competition ever seen between America's ponycars. Even so, things looked rather bleak for Ford road racing at the beginning of the year. Shelby had dropped out completely while Lee Iacocca had slashed Ford's racing budget by 75 percent. Bud Moore stayed the course, however, with Parnelli Jones and George Follmer. The rules were significantly different, as the cars would have to run with heavier weight, less carburetion and new wheel standards. With a new butterscotch orange livery (to make the cars more visible), new bodywork and some subtle change to the front and rear suspension arrangements, the '70 Bud Moore Mustangs started the year fresh with what turned out to be some significant improvements over the prior year's edition.
That was no doubt a good thing, as the competition looked stiffer than even before. Team Penske was running under the AMC banner this time around. Chevrolet was back while Dodge, Plymouth and Pontiac were mounting serious bids for the manufacturer's title as well. Even so, Bud Moore's Mustangs won six of eleven events to break Ford's tie with Chevrolet in manufacturer's championships, giving the blue oval the advantage 3-2. While that supremacy meant much to the Mustang faithful, Ford pulled its funding for good about a month later.
If he hadn't done so already, Bud Moore endeared himself to Ford road racing fans even further by carrying on during the 1971 season as best he could without factory funding. Parnelli Jones drove a handful of races before Moore sold his car for operating funds, leaving George Follmer and then Peter Gregg as his drivers with a race team that was struggling to make ends meet. Despite winning a handful of races with Follmer behind the wheel, Moore simply couldn't carry the weight of fielding a cutting edge championship contender any longer.
History, however, wasn't done with Bud Moore. In 1972, NASCAR was looking to switch to small-blocks as a means of keeping speeds down in an effort to enhance safety. Moore's R&D experience with the Boss 302 and 351 Cleveland engines during his time away from NASCAR had him right at the leading edge of stock car racing technology once again. That, coupled with the demise of Holman-Moody, opened new doors for Bud Moore, as he was on the forefront of Ford's efforts in the stock car wars.
Bud Moore would go on to work with some of the sport's most legendary drivers, ranging from Darrell Waltrip to Dale Earnhardt. Even though the wins became fewer in number with the rise of NASCAR's multi-car mega teams, his influence on the sport was undeniable. Even today, he remains the only person in NASCAR history to leave the series and then return with a major auto racing championship outside of stock car racing. In honor of that legacy while in his med-eighties, Bud Moore was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. Most recently, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame's second-ever class in 2011.
While Bud Moore may have made it there on the strength of his stock car resume alone, it would be hard to discount that Ford's Mustang helped carry him there, too.