Larry Moore Doesn’t Stand Still For Long
EAST LEROY, Mich.
It was a cold morning in north Florida. Below freezing temperatures had been a hindrance to farmers and had adversely affected the entire state for days. According to forecasters, there was no relief in sight until the next week.
As usual, Larry Moore had risen early, but the regular morning routine had been interrupted by a set of frozen water pipes.
Because of that and his usual hectic schedule, he had little time to talk.
“I’ve got an outside well for my sprinkling system,” said Moore, 67, from his home in a gated retirement community in Palatka, Fla. “It froze up. I was out there at seven this morning pouring hot water. Finally got it going.
“We’re getting ready to go over to the race track. They’re waiting on me right now.”
Moore had been assisting with a test session for a rookie dirt late-model driver at nearby Putnam County Speedway for the past few days.
Even though his driving career ended more than a decade ago, Moore still goes wide open almost every day.
It’s about all he knows, really.
For some four decades, Moore raced almost anything with wheels.
He began in drag racing somewhere around 1960. That eventually evolved into one of the most successful and illustrious short-track driving careers in history.
The longtime Dayton, Ohio, resident raced sprint cars, dirt late models and a variety of pavement stock cars.
A brief respite from retirement a few years ago found Moore behind the wheel of a UMP-type modified. It almost made him wish he’d never quit driving. During a special event at Putnam County, he and future World 100 winner Jimmy Owens lapped the field.
“That’s the last time I run,” Moore said. “I led half the laps. I was at his door at the checkered. (But) I come to a gunfight with a knife. Only had about 500 horsepower.
“I was working in the corner better than he was, but he was a little better down the straightaway.”
Longtime friend Jack Hewitt had tried several times to get Moore to drive one of the smaller cars, but the three-time World 100 winner had always refused.
A fan of high speeds, Moore had his reasoning.
“Hewitt used to (ask) me, ‘Why don’t you drive a mod?’” Moore explained. “He’d drive anything. I didn’t wanna go that slow. They don’t have a big enough motor in ’em and they got too little a tire.
“When I finally did, I said, ‘I should’ve been doing this all along.’ I should’ve got me a modified and went racing.”
His love of speed didn’t always set well with his wife of almost 40 years, Kaye, and their children, Moore said while recalling memories of traveling to high-banked, wicked-fast Winchester (Ind.) Speedway to race USAC sprint cars.
“I used to have a 1972 Cadillac limousine,” he said. “We’d be driving to Winchester and I’d be the only one in the car happy. I just always loved (sprints). They were great creations.”
It was more than 30 years ago the first time I watched Larry Moore race. He won, but I was just a know-nothing kid and had never heard of him.
After that I watched and learned, and through the years was fortunate enough to see him win many more times on dirt and pavement.
He excelled in the stock cars and late models.
Throughout his career, Moore appreciated anything that was different. He welcomed new challenges when others despised them. If there was a race track drivers hated, Moore would embrace it.
A certified stock-car racing legend, Moore is missed from behind the wheel of a race car.
It was another cold morning in north Florida. The regular routine was interrupted again. But this time for a different reason.
“I overslept this morning,” Moore said. “It’s very, very unusual.”
He went on to explain he had some time to talk, but not much because “I’ve got so much going on,” he said.
But I was OK with that because that’s exactly how it should be.