MONTE DUTTON – WARM MEMORIES OF BUD
Writing about racing is hard right now. Writing about anything isn’t easy. Lots of creativity gets fired from observations. Lately my observations have been mostly generated from the subject matter of an old Willie Nelson song.
Hello, walls. How’d things go for you today?
Forgive me if I reminisce. It appears there will be little about which to reminisce from the current year.
I got an email a couple days ago – those are nice because they provide additional evidence that there is still something out there – inquiring about the late Walter “Bud” Moore, who was a father figure even though I was happy he wasn’t my father. By then I didn’t have a father so sometimes he had to do.
When I first started writing about NASCAR full-time, the biggest and best part of my job was Bud Moore’s Spartanburg team. They were the latter days. The sport was passing Bud by, just as it eventually does everyone, including me. Sometimes Bud avoided me. He’d get his secretary and son to occupy me while he snuck out the side door, but after a while, I got wise to him and learned how to intercept him. That was when I got the best stuff.
I got to where I enjoyed the competition. I expect more NASCAR wisdom came out of Bud than anyone else. I developed an imitation of him that I could only use when company allowed me to be profane and loud. The latter day Woods, Eddie and Len, used to want me to “do some Bud” about every time I saw them. I’ll expurgate some of it here.
Bud hated Bristol because racing there tore up too many of his handcrafted Fords. Leaning on a stack of tires one night, he said to me, “It ought to be against the law to run more than two dozen cars around this pinball machine.”
The whole team was mad at me early one morning in Hampton, Ga., because of a headline one of the talented hands on the newspaper desk had attached to my story.
“There was nothing wrong with that story,” I said. “We writers don’t get to write the headlines.”
“Well, son, you gotta control them headlines,” he replied.
I sulled up over that. He didn’t apologize. He just watched me simmer for a while and said, “Come over here and get you some of this barbecue.”
“They got food in the press box,” I snapped.
“Ain’t got none like this here,” he said.
Bud was good at giving me the lowdown on what was going on. It’s funny that the two men in NASCAR who were best at putting complex matters in simple terms had similar names, Bud Moore and Buddy Baker.
The last time I ever saw him in person was the best moment of my sportswrting career. It was the day Bud was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The TV network had a set where they brought each new member up for an interview. I was talking to Bud, and a young woman hustled up and informed him it was his turn and he needed to get up and sit behind that table immediately.
Bud whirled around and said, “Look here, little girl, this feller here is a friend of mine, and I’m a-talking to him, and I’m a-gonna talk to him until he lets me know he’s got what he needs. You understand me?”
I asked him one more question, just to demonstrate my newfound power, and told him to go ahead and get his live interview done.
That was about the time that television became the absolute ruler of all NASCAR media, and I wouldn’t trade that memory for the Pulitzer Prize.