Red Gloves Still Rule: Remembering Greg Moore

Enrique MoralesContributor IOctober 30, 2009

12 Jul 1998:  Greg Moore of Team Player''s Forsythe Racing driving the Reynard Mercedes 98I during the CART - Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland in Cleveland, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire  /Allsport
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Ten years ago, the brown eyes of a bowlcut-sporting youngster watched in amazement as a blue number 99 raced right on the edge, the tail end of the Reynard-Mercedes always sliding around.

Ten years ago, the brown eyes of a bowlcut-sporting youngster watched in horror as a blue number 99 violently crashed on the back straightaway of what is now Auto Club Speedway.

Ten years ago, Dr. Steve Olvey told ESPN's Gary Gerould and the millions of television viewers the news they knew they would hear, but feared nonetheless.

We had lost Greg Moore at the age of 24 of October 31, 1999.

Moore entered the world of professional auto racing into 1993, donning the image of anything but a racer.

The following year, the Canadian driver proved to be exactly that, winning three Indy Lights events and finishing on the bottom step of the podium in the final classification.

In 1995, Moore returned for a third season in the Lights, taking a dominant ten wins from twelve races and the overall title.

There was no doubt in anyone's mind that number 99 was one to watch.

Gerry Forsythe would give the 20-year-old a chance, as Greg Moore moved up to the top level of American open-wheel racing in 1996.

The next year, Moore was winning races.

Holding off Michael Andretti, the winningest CART driver of all time, Greg took his first victory on the one-mile-and-change oval in Milwaukee.

The next week, triumph number two came in dramatic fashion, as Moore came from third to first in the final lap of the Detroit Grand Prix thanks to the top two runners' fuel tanks going dry.

1998 provided two more wins for Greg, perhaps the most memorable of his shortened career.

In Rio de Janiero, the Vancouverite battled with defending and eventual champion Alex Zanardi late in the race, making an unbelievable pass on the outside in a corner where such a maneuver seemed impossible.

Later in the season, Greg held off Zanardi and his Target Chip Ganassi teammate Jimmy Vasser to win a closely-contested race on the two-mile speedway of Michigan.

Moore would take a fifth career win in 1999, crossing the finish line first at Homestead.

The gifted racer, known for his signature red gloves, had caught the attention of American racing legend Roger Penske and Formula 1 powerhouse McLaren-Mercedes, eventually opting to sign with the former for 2000 and beyond.

Tragically, Moore never got to pilot a Penske Reynard-Honda.

The impact he made on the sport, the drivers, and the fans, however, did not disappear.

Moore's greatness extended beyond his Gilles Villeneuve-esque car control, his fearless style, and his incredible determination.

Greg Moore was more than just a helmeted figure in a fast car.  He was also a friend.

In the words of Dario Franchitti, Greg "is the reason you see drivers get on so well before the race and still race each other hard on the track.  He's the guy who taught all of us that you can race a guy on the track and still be friends at the end of the day."

The rising star from Maple Ridge realized that there was more to life than his career.  Having fun and making others happy was a large part of what Greg strived to do.

Unlike many who take their fortunate position for granted, Moore made sure he enjoyed every minute of the dream he was living.

With a smile on his face, Greg would always tell his competitors that he would "see them at the front" prior to a competition.

It was impossible to dislike the cheerful Canadian, and no one in the CART paddock could think of a negative word to say of Greg Moore.

Perhaps it says it all that his number 99 was retired by Championship Auto Racing Teams, despite the fact that Greg had only used the number for four seasons of competition.

The impression he had left in so little time was more than most made in their careers.

How easy it is to wonder if Gil de Ferran's championships in 2000 and 2001 could have been Greg's, or if Hélio Castroneves' Indianapolis 500 crowns would have gone to the red-gloved racer, or if the speedy 24-year-old would have succeeded Mika Häkkinen at McLaren in 2002.

Whatever Moore would have accomplished in the remainder of his career, it would have been met with a wide grin, a positive attitude, and a friendly disposition.

Who will today's six-year-old race fans admire as I looked up to Greg Moore?  While the sport certainly has a number of stars, the answer simply is "no one."

There was only one 99, one pair of red gloves, and one man who could immortalize his name and legacy in just 72 races.

A talent like Greg Moore only appears once a lifetime.

A human like Greg Moore appears even more infrequently.

Thanks, Greg, for the greatest YouTube videos out there, and the greatest auto racing memories I have.

See you at the front.