I found these snapshots yesterday and they brought back the beautiful, graceful and funny kid who died at Fontana in 1999. The captions are from an article I did on Greg winning the Indy Lights Championship in ‘94.
Morning Warm Up, Laguna Seca: Coming up into turn seven the fast uphill turn before the Corkscrew, Greg Moore on a hot lap, flat out on nearly full tanks, dives inside to lap a back marker. The lapee doesn't see Greg and turns in.
Their wheels come within a whisker of interlocking as Greg moves up inside the slower car. Greg lifts for an instant and turns into the curb, launching the car into the gravel. The car bounds across the gravel trap, short-cutting the turn, hits the back of the curb, and launches, nose up, eight feet over the track. Greg is twenty, on his way to taking Villeneuve's seat in an Indycar. He said, in Vancouver the week before, "I'm just a normal guy in a high profile job."
Greg Moore won 10 of the 12 races breaking Paul Tracy's record of 9 wins in 14 races in `91. More telling, Greg won 242 points out of a possible 264. In a series where the cars are as equal as baseballs this is like hitting a home run ten out of twelve times at bat. According to Greg's race engineer, Steve Challis, Greg is "on track to be one of the great racing drivers of the world."
Picture a young Canadian accountant played by Peter Sellers, that long lugubrious face lit up from time to time with a wicked pickerel grin because he knows there's a naked lady behind the drapes. He's bright, direct, funny and oh yes, he is quick. As a goalie in high school, snatching slapshots out of the air, Greg was good enough for a shot at the NHL.
At fifteen, leading the finals for the 1990 North American Superkart Championship in Portland, he spun. When he got back on the track he was 13 seconds down with 13 laps to go. Greg broke the lap record on the next lap, and again and again. He caught the leader on the last straight on the last lap, head faked left, went right to win the race and the championship. A corner-worker came back to the paddock where the team was loading the kart back on the transporter. "I know it sounds weird," he said, "but in all my years at racetracks I have never seen anything like it. I mean we all knew Greg didn't have a chance. But when he came around again it was like there was this glow. I know it sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it. This glow."
At Laguna Greg was third quickest on the Friday morning practice. The whole team hates being third. Owner Gerald Forsythe prowls the garage looking at Greg's car as if it needs a bath. Towards the end of the afternoon qualifying session a full course yellow brought the cars into the pits. When the course went green again, Greg was first out on the track. The car didn't "glow" but I saw what the corner-worker in Portland was talking about. A race car is a finely tuned instrument and when it is wound out the edge it has a buzz. It vibrates between charging out of control and control, the will of the driver reigning it in and urging it on. Greg broke the track record and pulled into the pits.
Qualifying Saturday was something else. With three minutes to go, Alfonso Giafone breaks Greg's new track record. Greg half a lap behind, breaks the record again. Alfonso answers breaking the record again. Greg comes across the finish line and he's not quick enough. Steve Challis is on the phone with the news as the checkered flag drops. Greg is on his last lap and Challis is saying You gotta go now. You're not on the pole anymore. And it is what champions do under pressure. Going farther, deeper and harder, and bringing the car home with the fourth track record in the last three minutes, over a 1.2 seconds faster than last year's pole.