NASCAR mourns loss of two great ones

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and remember, Christmas is just a few weeks away. I keep hoping Santa will bring that shiny new Modified for next season, or actually I’d settle for a slightly used newer model. I think that is the type of wish each racer has this time of year. I’m just truly thankful to be able to still participate in this awesome sport after 40-plus years.

This is NASCAR Championship week in Las Vegas and on tonight at 9 p.m. on NBCSN you can watch as Martin Truex Jr. takes home the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup trophy and the huge check that goes along with it. Martin and the Furniture Row Racing team deserve all the recognition for a job well done as week after week they were the team to beat.

Love is in the air in the NASCAR world. Tony Stewart, who was a longtime bachelor, has decided to get married and has given a beautiful ring to a beautiful lady from Los Angeles, California, Pennelope Jimenez. Penny, as Tony calls her, has a career of her own as a former Playboy Playmate and accomplished actress. Her roles have included “The Bold and Beautiful” and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s 2002 blockbuster “The Scorpion King,” along with several other roles.

The couple has been dating since 2016 and Tony proposed on Thanksgiving Day. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy are expecting a child this year, along with Kevin and Delana Harvick, who are expecting their second child. Also Ty Dillon and his wife are expecting a child.

NASCAR fans and competitors are mourning the loss of Hall of Fame car owner and crew chief Bud Moore from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Bud passed away at age 92 on Monday morning.

Bud and his team built winning Ford and Mercury race cars in several racing series including NASCAR, SCCA, USAC and many other racing series. Bud was a decorated War II hero and was in five major battles, and was awarded five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for valor.

Some of the greatest drivers in the world drove Bud Moore prepared cars. These include: Buck and Buddy Baker, Joe Weatherly, Joe Eubanks, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, George Folmer, Loyd Ruby, Tiny Lund, Darel Dieringer, Billy Wade, Peter Revson, Geoff Bodine, Jack Smith, Speedy Thompson, Fireball Roberts and many more.

He was married to the same lady for 63 years and reared three sons.

Greg Moore followed in his father’s footsteps and took the helm at Bud Moore Engineering until it was sold in the 90s to Fenley Motorsports.

Two great owner crew chiefs have passed away in the last few months. Robert Yates lost his battle with cancer and both of these great minds from our sport will be missed.

With the passing of these great engineers, designers and fabricators, I can’t help but wonder 20 years from now who will be considered great. I sure hope it’s not some computer program! Teams rely on computer simulators and college-educated engineers that decide changes and set ups for today’s race cars. People like Yates and Moore are like dinosaurs rapidly becoming extinct.

I patterned myself after these greats of the sport and pride myself on solving problems and designing and fabricating my own parts and combinations to try and do the best I can with what I have.

The man who taught me about racing and life had a favorite catch phrase — “Take Hold of It!” — when I wasn’t sure what to do next. I wonder if this new generation of race teams ever got told to take hold of it.

I’m looking forward to seeing the banquet and seeing these great drivers, families and crews all dressed up. But I do think about the future of this sport I love so much.

Before too long it will be time to roll those cars out at Daytona and once again, at the end of the straightaway there will be Another Left Turn.