News & Features
Formula One
News & Features
News & Features
News & Features
 Wednesday, November 3
'Things happen at speed,' Moore said
By Mike Harris
Associated Press

  FONTANA, Calif. -- Two days before his death, Greg Moore talked about the hazards of racing at 230 mph.

"The cars are as safe as they can be," the 24-year-old Canadian driver said. "It's just that you'll never be able to make race cars completely safe. Things happen at speed."

On Sunday, Moore was killed during the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway. For a reason that might never be known, he lost control of his Reynard-Mercedes and crashed into a concrete wall at more than 200 mph.

Only minutes before, Richie Hearn crashed in almost the same spot at about the same speed, but walked away without injury.

It appeared that Moore's head, poking out of the open cockpit of his Champ Car, slapped the wall after the car dug into the infield grass and flipped.

At that point, the blue car broke in two, spraying parts and shards as the cockpit spun wildly four times. Moore was pounded into the ground several times before the cockpit came to rest.

Few drivers knew what had happened as they raced toward the checkered flag. Afterward, there was no traditional champagne, only tears.

Moore was the second CART driver to die this season. Rookie Gonzalo Rodriguez of Uruguay was killed during practice Sept. 11 in Monterey.

Another young driver, Jeff Krosnoff, died during a race in Toronto in 1996. Krosnoff was the first driver to die in a CART race in 14 years, a fact that may have lulled many into a false sense of security.

"We keep working on the safety, finding more and more ways to protect the drivers and the crews and the fans," team owner and former driving star Bobby Rahal said. "You go months, then years without anything serious and, bang, all of a sudden, somebody is hurt badly or killed and everybody questions how it happened.

"Well, drivers accept the fact that you can get hurt or killed in a race car because nobody can ever make them perfectly safe. When something like that happens, you just have to assess it, try to fix the problem if you can and go on."

Mario Andretti, a retired open-wheel star, began racing in a more perilous era.

"I buried a lot of my friends in Formula One," he said. "Back then, the cars were just plain dangerous.

"Now, drivers expect to have long careers and retire with everything intact," added Andretti, whose two sons followed him into racing. "Now we have fuel cells and crushable sidepods and improved helmets and lots of other things for the safety of the drivers.

"But the human body was never meant to be smashed into walls at high speed. With everything that's being done to protect them, drivers are still only human and vulnerable."

Moore nearly missed Sunday's race. A car struck the scooter he was riding Saturday morning in the speedway paddock. He was left with a fractured finger, lacerated hand and bruised hip.

But Moore wanted to race. He begged CART officials to let him test his injured right hand in a special, one-car practice Saturday. He ran six laps, three of them over 219 mph, and was cleared.

Dr. Steve Olvey, director of medical affairs for CART, said he examined the hand again Sunday morning and gave Moore the go-ahead.

"It really is not likely that the hand injury had anything to do with this accident," he said.

Paul Tracy, another Canadian driver who competed Sunday, recalled looking at Moore before the race.

"The loss of Greg is a hard thing to try and stomach," he said. "But I've talked to a lot of drivers now and we all just remember Greg on the grid.

"He was sitting there in his car with a gimp hand, smiling and ready for the race, ready to go out there and try to win it. His spirit was that way. He wouldn't give up a chance to get in the car, even if his leg was hanging off.

Tracy says that's how he wants to remember Moore.

"Not seeing the accident, but remembering all of the good times that we had," he said. "He was a guy who always had a smile on his face. He had a great spirit and I hope that continues on in this sport."

Memorial services for Moore set for Wednesday, Thursday

CART's thoughts on Moore at awards banquet

Greg Moore dies in CART crash

Moore's hometown mourns loss of local hero