Originally written: October 31, 2012
October 31, 1999 – I was 6 years old and I remember all that mattered to me very clearly from that day. It was one of the few very standout instances from childhood that will always stay with me.
I don’t recall a “moment” I fell in love with racing in my life, it doesn’t exist. From the moment I have any sort of memory, all I know is that my biggest love and passion was motorsports, especially Formula 1 and IndyCars.
When I was just a few months old, the story goes that I woke up for my early morning feedings at 6AM, and on Sundays, it was dad’s turn to take care of me at that hour. As only a good dad would, we watched racing in the early morning from Formula 1 over in Europe, and then tuned in to IndyCar racing later in the day.
I grew up around that, and over the course of the years, that pattern is what resonates with me up until now. Motorsports is all I ever truly cared about as a kid, and being a driver was the only job I ever wanted. Auto, Polish for car (just in case you didn’t figure it out) was my first word, and the obsession carried on from there. I was in a go-kart when I was 3 years old in a local indoor track with blocks on my feet and a pillow at my back; I just wanted to be like Greg Moore.
It didn’t stop there. In the very early grades, I was the kid who had car posters that I attached, detached, and re-attached every single morning to my school desk.
But looking back on it now, the only racing I remember clearly from those days was of the #99 Player’s Forsythe car. Even though I spent countless Sundays watching racing with my dad for years, it was the few Greg Moore moments from those early years that stay with me. The details might be hazy, but the battles for his wins with Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser at races in Rio and Homestead always come to mind. I also reminiscence on his miraculous win in Detroit when the two cars in front ran out of fuel on the final lap, it was just meant to be.
I can remember being absolutely enthralled by his driving style, the way he raced others, and the person he was with his helmet off. I sat there on our grey couch, which was perpendicular to the television, and watched Greg Moore do spectacular things time and time again in those few short years.
I never met Greg Moore. Looking back on it 13 years later, everything seems to make a bit more sense now.
I watched Saturday morning cartoons, but I was never completely sold on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spiderman, and all the rest. They were entertaining, but none were as exciting as Greg Moore. Sunday was when the real hero was at action. It’s only now that I’m realizing he was the reason everything else just was not as appealing to me.
My entire life, I’ve told people that I want to be a race car driver. There was never a moment of flip-flopping between being Spiderman, a fire truck, policeman, or whatever others may have had in mind. From the moment I can remember, I just wanted to do everything I could to be like Greg Moore.
I will never forget that Halloween Day in 1999. I was sitting on my grey couch, perpendicular to the television, and I saw it happen in front of me. The details are not hazy, I almost wish they were.
I remember knowing that he had a bit of an injury going into that race in Fontana. There was some tension from the television commentators, from my family, and as well as through me. However, his start was brilliant and he was flying through the field without any issues whatsoever. However, 10 laps in, disaster struck. That day, I saw my superhero disappear.
Take away any hero for a 6-year old kid, whoever they may be, fiction or non-fiction, and I’m positive that child won’t be the same anymore. Personally, I think that’s what happened to me.
Initially, I didn’t know how to deal with it. I cried for hours, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The concept was too great for me to fully comprehend, but I did understand Greg Moore was gone forever. There was no explanation needed.
Not knowing how to deal with it, I remember asking my dad if we could go to the store and get some Pokémon cards. I enjoyed them at the time, and it was the only thing I could try to do to take my mind off of what had taken place. It was too big of an event for me to just forget and continue living a care-free 6 year-old life for quite a while.
After that day, everything else gets hazy. I continued to watch races with my dad, and even began competing in go-karts myself in 2001. However, none of the races I watched throughout those few years ever really stuck with me. There were no “wow” moments for me by watching anymore, there was no Greg Moore.
Since then, new favourite drivers have come along but I was always very apprehensive when answering the “who’s your favourite?” question. Sure, I had new drivers I cheered for and enjoyed watching, but only Greg Moore stood out.
I’ve been lucky to meet people who were close to Greg, and I’ve even had a chance to hold one of the helmets he drove with, which was very special. All of the stories, articles, interviews, and old race videos of Greg I look upon fondly now. I have a huge amount of respect for a driver and person who really was as good as I thought he was.
I never met Greg Moore. Looking back on it 13 years later, maybe it was the best thing for me. Heroes are inspirational, dare I say, too good to be real. Greg Moore was my inspiration, and since having him taken away, it has intensified how badly I've wanted to become a racecar driver. If I could somehow compete with all of his heart, and even just a fraction of his talent and courage, I would feel as though I did my best to be just like Greg Moore. To me, he was just that great.
Greg Moore was, and still is, my superhero.
I never met you, but thanks for everything, Greg. Red Gloves Rule.