Bud Moore Engineering - Reflecting With Bud
Bud Moore Reminisces About Parnelli Jones, Bad Firestone Tires, And Winning The '70 Trans-Am Championship
He returned to NASCAR in 1972. Over the next 20 years, Fords built by Bud Moore Engineering would win races for a who's who of NASCAR's top drivers, including Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons, Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Geoff Bodine, and Morgan Shepherd. In 1999, Moore sold his operation to Fenley Racing.
Now 80, Moore spends most of his time "running my cattle farm" at his home south of Spartanburg. He was inducted into the Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
MM: You were running NASCAR in the early '60s. How did you get involved with Ford's Trans-Am program?BM: Well, I've been racing since 1947. I'd run modified Fords up until about 1951, and I ran some Fords in '56. We ran Pontiacs in 1960 through part of '63. Then we got hooked up with Lincoln-Mercury in the last of '63. We ran Grand National [as NASCAR's top division was known then] with Joe Weatherly, Darrell Dieringer, Billy Wade, and several more of 'em. But then Mercury wanted to run the Cougar in 1967 in the Trans-Am series. Fran Hernandez, who was over the Mercury racing program, had us build a couple of Cougars. We had Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Dan Gurney, Peter Revson, Ed Leslie-those were all the drivers that drove them Cougars. We ran awful good in the '67 Trans-Am series. We lost the championship at the last race in-I think it was Kent, Washington-because of dead batteries. What happened, Ford had made some smaller batteries-not much bigger than a motorcycle battery-to save weight. Now on the pit stops, you had to cut your engine off, then the engine had to fire on itself [after fueling]. Well, George was running second so we brought him in first. And it wouldn't crank. So we had to push him behind the wall to put a battery in it. And the same thing happened to Parnelli. That cost us the race and the Points Championship.
In 1968, they wouldn't let us run the Cougars because we were out-running the Mustangs. I think Shelby ran the Mustangs in '68, and Penske [who built the Camaros] tore their butt up real bad. In the fall of 1968, Jacque Passino from Ford called me and said, "I need you to come to Detroit. We need to talk over a couple of things." So I went up there and they said they wanted me to take over the Trans-Am series for 1969. Said they were testing the 1969 Mustangs right then in Riverside, California, and they couldn't stand to be beat like they were the past year. So I took over the Mustang program in the fall of '68.
MM: In 1969, Mustangs won four out of the first five races, with your cars winning three of them. Then Mustangs didn't win any more the rest of the season. What happened?BM: We had tire problems. Like Parnelli was talking here the other day. He said, "You know, if we'd made Firestone fix those tires we wouldn't have lost that series." What hurt was the fact that Parnelli was a Firestone distributor. We hollered with them and this and that, but they said, "There ain't nothing wrong with the tires." If we'd just put our foot down a little bit harder and had done something to the tires, like Parnelli said, we'd have won three or four more races without any problems.
MM: But then you won the championship in 1970.BM: Yep. In the fall of '69, we got on Firestone's butt real hard and told them to fix the tires or we were going to run Goodyears. So they decided they better fix 'em and we won the championship hands-down in 1970. We had some Mustangs for the '71 season-in fact, I had already got a couple or three to build for 1971. That's when Ford got out of racing, in the fall of 1970, so we went racing as an independent.