It’s hard to believe that 18 years ago today, Canada lost a promising young auto racer from British Columbia who was in the fast lane to success.
It was the final race of the CART FedEx Championship Series season when racer Greg Moore died in a violent single-car crash during the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway on Oct. 31, 1999.
Moore was born in 1975 in New Westminster, but spent most of his life living in Coquitlam and Maple Ridge, where his father owned a car dealership. Greg Moore eventually worked his way up from racing go-karts in the Lower Mainland to to winning the 1989 North American Enduro KART racing championship. When Moore entered the top-level CART racing series with Player’s Forsythe Racing in 1996, he had already established himself as a promising young race car driver in the Indy Lights series, having won the 1995 Indy Lights Championship.
In just his second season, Moore became the youngest person to ever win a CART race when he captured the Miller Lite 200 at Milwaukee in 1997 at the age of 22. By the time Moore suited up for the Marlboro 500, it was clear that he was a rising racing star.
Sadly, Moore’s career and life were cut short that afternoon. Travelling at more than 330 kilometres an hour, Moore exited the second turn of the California Speedway, lost control of his Reynard-Mercedes and slid along a grass field, eventually slamming into a concrete wall cockpit first. He was pronounced dead before the race was even over.
I remember where I was when I found out Moore had died. I was 10 years old and I had just come home from trick-or-treating with friends. Like so many other racing fans, I was devastated. I had met Moore only a few years earlier at the Vancouver Molson Indy in 1997. My father had tickets that provided us with the opportunity to meet Moore for a short period of time during the race weekend.
For someone who was becoming a big deal in the racing world, Moore showed absolutely no signs of fame getting to him. He treated us with such unforgettable kindness and generosity. He talked to my father and I about auto racing and his car and he did it all with a smile. Before my father and I left, Moore signed a hat for us and allowed us to take photos with him. From that day forward, Moore was an idol of mine.
Moore’s CART racing career only lasted three years, but in that time he managed five wins, 14 podium finishes, four pole positions and touch the lives of thousands of people around the world, including current Canadian race car driver James Hinchcliffe, who often speaks about the impact Moore had on him.
Eighteen years after his death, Moore’s legacy hasn’t been forgotten.
Hanging in my home is my Vancouver Molson Indy hat signed by Moore along with a commemorative plaque. pic.twitter.com/jLbAZnnU7v
— Nicholas M Pescod (@npescod) October 31, 2017