The last day in October has us thinking about Trick or Treat and the invasion by Halloween’s ghosts and goblins.
But the day is also remembered as the anniversary of an extremely sad occasion, and perhaps the most difficult and emotional days I ever spent on the air in my 40 years in broadcasting.
Greg Moore, of Maple Ridge, B.C., and his incredibly promising career was taken from us on October 31, 1999, when he was fatally injured in a violent crash on the tenth lap of the CART/IndyCar season finale at the California Motor Speedway at Fontana.
Greg and Raceline Radio struck a chord very early, and I can honestly say he was a genuine friend of the show. He gave me his personal cell number and told me not to hesitate to call him any time for sound. I remember calling him and he was in the middle of a camping trip in the mountains somewhere, but that didn’t stop him from giving me another great interview, one of many.
He was universally loved by fans and fellow competitors due to his sometimes wacky and over-the-top sense of humour. Greg was a professional practical joker.
On the track, he raced you hard, but he raced you clean.
As he won races and hearts in the No. 99 blue, white and gold Player’s-Forsythe entry barely into his 20’s, his stature grew to the point you just knew he was destined for great things.
I distinctly remember saying how his talent and poise reminded me of Rick Mears, and that he was destined to drive for Roger Penske because he fit the mold of a Penske driver: fast, fearless and a master with the media and public to represent the sport, the team and their sponsors.
Sure enough, in the summer of 1999, Moore announced he had signed a contract to race in 2000 for “The Captain.”
I couldn’t wait for Greg to flourish with Penske, but we never got there.
A few short months later, the Halloween crash at Fontana snatched the future away.
That season, after each IndyCar race, we were doing live post-race shows from my home studio on then, The FAN 590.
I had just watched my friend and one of the brightest Canadian racing stars die, and now I was to go on the air for an hour to talk about this unspeakable tragedy.
The hour was, and still is, a blur.
I asked the fans to call in with their thoughts and best memories and moment, and God bless them, the fans got me through the hour.
I do remember signing off by wishing Greg “Godspeed” and that one day we would meet again in a better place. I broke down as the show’s exit music started.
Greg Moore is still missed terribly by the racing family, especially the Canadian and IndyCar racing families.
Tony Kanaan told me recently he thinks about his good friend every day, and you can hear a tremble in Dario Franchitti’s voice when I mention Greg and his red gloves. Franchitti is still very good friends with the Moore family.
James Hinchcliffe will tell you Greg Moore was his racing hero and I most definitely see and hear echoes of Moores in Hinchcliffe, in his talent, poise and yes, his boyish sense of humour.
Maybe it’s those attributes that makes Canadian race car drivers stand out.
I just know Greg Moore was outstanding. We will just sadly never know how much more outstanding he could have become.
Godspeed No. 99.