The Life and Times of Greg Moore: The Big Leagues 1996-1998.

Hello. As promised, last week yesterday, I published Part 1 of a three part series on hometown hero racing driver Greg Moore. That post covered his start through crashing carts into drain pipes in parking lots, all the way to the most dominant Indy Lights season ever recorded. We will now get to the exciting part: DA BIG LEAGUES!!!

Greg’s first “big leagues” Indy race was at March 3, 1996 in Homestead Florida. For a rookie he did pretty good. He finished 7th, which is respectable.

Let’s hear what the true seasoned veterans had to say about that result.

Jimmy Vasser (race winner) “A figure to be reckoned with...absolutely”

Gil De Ferran (2nd place) “A fantastic debut. He caught me easily, he was running very fast”

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Neil Micklewright, VP Operations of Players Racing “staggering”.

Dario Franchitti (whom watched the race on tv) “I was just astounded.”

(Greg overtakes a car on the outside in his Homestead debut, March 3 1996)

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Moore finished 7th. He qualified 6th. How did he catch 2nd place? Ah yes. At Lap 70 Greg made a rookie mistake. He passed someone under caution, and was penalized and had to go a lap down. He was then 17th. In the remainder of the race (63 laps), Greg passed the entire field to gain back his lap and finished 20 seconds behind the winner, Jimmy Vasser. That is a margin, but not that much of a margin for someone who has a lap behind on the 70th (of 133) lap of the race. Greg Moore then, made his debut with a bang.

“I was leading and pulling away from second place when this blue car suddenly appeared in my mirrors,” recalled Vasser. “My guys told me not to worry because he was a lap down, but he went around the outside of me in Turn 3 and I was glad he wasn’t on the lead lap.”

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Ah yes. The trademark blue and white which would become this racing fan’s favourite livery.

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Beautiful.

As 1996 wore on Greg got his feet underneath him. He placed 3rd in Australia, 2nd at Nazareth PA, 3rd at Cleveland and 4th at Toronto. Overall, he finished 9th! It was a great rookie season overall.

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Here is Greg on the Podium at Nazareth.

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In 1997, Greg began to do even better. Not only did he have 3 2nd place finishes. He had two wins. Let’s talk about those!

On June 1 1997, Greg Moore became the youngest person ever, to win a CART race. He did so at the Wisconsin State Fairground in Milwaukee.

Here is a very rare interview with Greg on his first ever victory!! So happy!

Just a week later, Greg won his 2nd race. This time it was in Detroit. On the last lap in 3rd place, the two cars ahead of him ran out of fuel, and Greg luckily had enough to win!! Sadly for pacwest both of their drivers Mauricio Guglemin and Mark Blundell, they didn’t finish in the points. Whoops!!

As 1997 wore on unfortunately Greg’s fortunes declined. He ended up finishing 7th in the points, in no small part because he DNF’ed 7 of the last 8 races including his hometown race in Vancouver.

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The 1998 season in my opinion was Greg’s best. After starting the season with a 2nd, 4th and 6th, Greg won in Rio, and he won in spectacular fashion. This Rio pass is my favourite Greg Moore moment. He passes Zinardi for the lead and goes onto win at Rio!!

in Michigan Greg had a great race. Firstly he had a serious code brown moment. Oh man....sideways in the air over a bump and recovers it. Code Brown!!!!

Greg then went on to win the race over Jimmy Vasser and Alexander Zanardi. Great race, and probably Greg’s best although the race in Rio was my favourite. Sadly the rest of Greg’s seasons was a struggle as he finished 11th in Ohio then DNF’ed 5 of the last 6 races. One of those of course was hometown Vancouver where Greg sadly had the worst luck and never finished a race. Stayed tuned for Part 3 of the Greg Moore Story: 1999 The Last Lap.

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