(USA TODAY) -- Walter “Bud” Moore Jr., a NASCAR pioneer mechanic and car owner, has died at the age of 92.
The oldest surviving member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Moore, of Spartanburg, S.C., had been in declining health for months.
Moore’s Spartanburg-based Ford teams once were a pillar of NASCAR, along with Petty Enterprises, Wood Brothers Racing and Junior Johnson and Associates. Historians credit those four teams with building the foundation for what became modern stock car racing.
Moore won what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship in 1957 as crew chief for driver Buck Baker. In 1962 and 1963, he won team owner championships with driver Joe Weatherly.
Moore won 63 Cup races as a team owner. Among his drivers were Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Buddy Baker.
He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
Beyond his impact in auto racing, Moore is remembered as a hero in World War II. A machine gunner only a few months removed from a farm in South Carolina, he landed on the beach at Normandy, France as part of the invasion that changed the face of the war in Europe. He received five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.
In a statement, NASCAR chairman Brian France called Moore “a giant in our sport and a true American hero.”