Moore remembered after being killed in crash

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The Independent Online

Tony Morris saw Greg Moore in action long before even the most ardent auto racing fan.

Tony Morris saw Greg Moore in action long before even the most ardent auto racing fan.

When Moore was about 16 years old, his father asked Morris, a former driver on the Canadian racing circuit in the 1980s and early '90s, if the teen-ager could drive his race car for a lap at the now-closed Westwood Motorsports Park track in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Morris agreed and Moore had the bug. It turned into a very successful career on the CART circuit that was cut tragically short on Sunday when the 24-year-old Moore was killed in a terrifying accident during the Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway in Fontana, California.

Morris remembered the very first time he saw Moore drive, even before he borrowed his car.

"He was great. It was up at Westwood at the go-kart track. My kid was running and Greg went out there for the first time. I can't honestly remember if he won his first race, but he was definitely a competitive driver and has always been that way all his life," Morris said Sunday from his home in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam. "Obviously, he had a passion for the sport and achieved the highest level, other than (Gilles) Villeneuve. But in the same class as Villeneuve, he died at it. And it's such a sad time."

Moore won five times in his 72-race CART career, including the season-opening race in Homestead, Florida, this season.

"I was absolutely shocked. It's a very sad day for motorsport in Canada," Morris said. "I'm absolutely devastated. ... He lived for motorsport. Unfortunately, he died at the sport that he loved. It's a sad day, it really is. ... I've lost a really good friend and motorsports lost a great ambassador."

Moore grew up as most Canadian kids do, playing hockey. One of his teammates as a youngster was the Anaheim Mighty Ducks star Paul Kariya.

"It's a tragedy. We were friends," Kariya said Sunday night after Anaheim's 3-0 loss to Phoenix. "We grew up in Vancouver and I've talked to him a number of times. We spent some time together at the All-Star game up in Vancouver couple of years ago. We both made it in our sports, and it's sad.

"He was in a dangerous sport, and unfortunately, sometimes those things happen. It's just a tragedy. It doesn't happen often, but when something goes wrong, it's going to be when you're going 150 miles an hour."

The race continued after Moore crashed on lap 10 of the 250-lap event, but the drivers were not told of his death until after the race.

Adrian Fernandez left to be by himself for a while after winning the race. He returned to speak through tears.

"It's so hard. Greg was such a good friend of ours. We've been racing for a while and shared so many good moments on and off the track," he said. "This is a tragedy for all of us. The win doesn't matter anything. My heart goes out to his family."

Moore's father, mother and girlfriend were at the track and went to the hospital where he had been airlifted.

They asked CART not to cancel its season-ending awards banquet tonight in Los Angeles.

"Obviously, I am going to make some major changes in the program," Andrew Craig, president and CEO of CART, said after announcing the awards banquet would be held.

News of Moore's death was taken hardest in his native Canada.

"The tragic death of Greg Moore has left a hole for all of those who knew him and the millions more who watched this hometown hero as he brought racing to a whole new generation of motorsports fans," said Stuart Ballantyne, the Vancouver Molson Indy general manager and a close friend of Moore's family. "In every way, Greg was a winner both on and off the track, contributing countless hours to local charities and other worthwhile causes."