Memory Lane: A Tribute To Joe Moore Of MRN (Part 2)

As we enter a new year, it’s official that we’re into Joe Moore’s first official year of “retirement.”  Now instead of fighting the crowds at the airport, he’ll be fighting the schools of fish and wife Tiffany’s “honey-do lists”.

Through 21 years of marriage that started with Tiffany not knowing a thing about racing, in fact, she said when she met Moore while producing Raceline.

“I didn’t know the difference between Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty,” Moore admitted. “Now, all these years later, and the fact that (we) own Raceline, I know way more than I want to, about all of them.”

Tiffany Moore

Tiffany met her husband of 21 years back in 1996 or ’97. While we won’t let Moore know that she didn’t remember the exact time, there was plenty more to remember. Fittingly, they were working at a small TV station in Hampton, VA.

“I was kind of just doing random production work and that was actually the station that was producing Raceline at the time,” Moore recalled.  “So, one thing led to another and the producer of Raceline left to work in DC at C-SPAN and the people who were running the shows asked us, ‘Do you want to produce it?’ And the rest from there was history.”

Both Tiffany and Joe continue to host Raceline, a venture that they enjoy doing.

Joe Moore has spent the majority of his life traveling with the military and all year with the Motor Racing Network. I asked to Tiffany to share a story that would make Joe just shake his head while thinking, “Why did she share that?” So, why not a little travel nightmare story…

Travel Troubles

When Moore’s service concluded at the end of the Vietnam War, Tiffany reflected, “Joe always talked about taking me to see the country and where he served.”

The first time they went over, they were just enamored with the country.

“We were in Bangkok ready to fly out the next day,” Moore said. “Well, we had neglected to see that our plane tickets said 12:00 a.m. instead of 12:00 p.m.. Because we thought we were leaving at noon the next day, we’re getting ready to go to the airport the next morning and Joe realizes that we have completely missed our flight. It was the day before and we’re on the other side of the earth. Of course, they’re not going to refund it. We got the tickets with frequent flyer miles. Of course, I’m freaking out. I’m in a tizzy.

What was a free trip became a $6,000 apiece, plane tickets. We had to fly business class from Bangkok to New York. Thank God for American Express. We’ll pay that back sometime.”

So, did Joe talk to his wife on that flight?

“Well, he was a little afraid to at first, but he did,” Moore recalled.

Joe Cool

It certainly seems that Joe Moore doesn’t get flustered by much.

“Never,” Moore admitted. “And that drives me insane, because sometimes I tend to fly off the handle about things that are not even that important and he can just step back and say, ‘Look at the grand scheme of things. It is not that big of a deal.’ Even if it is a big deal.”

Tiffany Moore praised her husband when they were dealing with the evacuation from Hurricane Irma and the eventual rebuild. These are just a few of the million stories about Joe Moore. And we are thankful that Tiffany Moore shared with us. When her husband shakes his head and wonders why you shared it with us, blame it on the radio guy. He’ll understand.

Joe Moore has been described in many ways, including being dedicated to his family, which is at the tops of his list. Many that know Joe Moore know about the loss of his mother several years ago and his love for his brother Don.

Brotherly Love

Joe Moore’s love of his brother is quite special, as his wife Tiffany described their bond.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” she shared. “He is so amazing with his brother. Don is about eight years younger than Joe and he’s developmentally disabled. What most people would describe as just kind of slow, physically, he’s great. He works at the grocery store down here as a bag boy and a cart gatherer. Don loves going to work and he does a great job. Everybody in the community has just kind of adopted him. He kind of has, almost like a cult following down here.

Everybody knows Don and Joe is just so wonderful with him. Whenever he can, he takes Don fishing and he’s very patient with him. Don is a member of what was called the Mark House down here. It’s an organization for people like him and a lot of the community members will take them out on Saturdays to go on trips to Key West and have fun for the day, go to movies, or go to whatever is going on down here. We’re both trying to get a little bit more involved in that.”

The Move

Ever since their move to the Florida Keys, Joe’s brother Don has lived with them.

“It’s a pretty special bond and it’s amazing to watch because you know, things are not always perfect when you are a caretaker for someone,” Moore said. “And once again, that is (attributed) to Joe’s more specialty sense of humor and everything is okay attitude that comes through. So yeah, he’s pretty special.”

From direct family to the guys that have been with Joe Moore longer than most of us have cars that warrant a routine service appointment, lead turn announcer for MRN, Dave Moody, shared not only his first memory, but his most memorable moment with the iconic announcer.

Dave Moody

“As a New England boy, I grew up in Vermont,” Moody said. “Joe came North as part of a kind of a daisy chained radio network that, that he and another guy did to broadcast some of the old Busch Grand National races. He came up North to broadcast the Oxford 250. It was a very low tech deal.”

Together, Moore and Moody grabbed parts and pieces from each of their radio stations, hauled it North, and pieced it together to get on the air.

So, the next problem that faced the two innovative broadcasters was finding pit reporters. Moody recalled recruiting Dr. Jerry Punch along with his brothers Dennis and Dave.

“The problem was, there were no local affiliates carrying the races,” Moody recounted. “So, the pit reporters had no way whatsoever to hear the actual broadcast or to know when they were throwing to us for up updates.”

As a result, for this particular night race, they were able to come up with an idea to communicate from the booth down to pit road.

Problem Solver

“Joe said, okay, here’s what we’re going to do,” Moody recollected. “We’ll have a flashlight in the booth, and when we want to talk with Dennis, we’ll flash once. Dave, we’ll flash twice. And for Jerry, we’ll flash three times.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Once the raced logged about 15 laps, they realized it wasn’t good of an idea as they thought.

“We realized that every time somebody in the press box lit a cigarette, one of us would start to talk,” Moody shared.

The team made the most of the broadcast, with Moody musing, “That really summed up the whole Joe Moore experience. There’s no way in the world that he should have traveled from Hampton, VA to Oxford, ME. Then patching together a bunch of equipment and praying to God that we could get on the air.”

That road trip and particular race perfectly sums up Joe Moore when it came to radio. Moody highlighted how Moore did everything for that trip, from packing the equipment, driving every mile from Hampton to Oxford, piecing the equipment together, anchoring the broadcast, and hauling it all home.

“Joe was always willing to go the extra mile,” Moody remarked. “He was always willing to do whatever it took to be involved in this sport.”

Perfectionist

When Moore was on the air during a broadcast, he formed his phrases perfectly while describing the action with clarity which illustrated the races mentally for fans. When Moore was on the broadcast, it may seem like he was perfectionist. But, was that the case and what the people that knew him best saw?

“There’s absolutely no question about that,” Moody said. “Joe spent a lot of years working alongside Barney Hall. Barney really was the epitome of what our business is. So, when you work with Barney Hall for 30 or 35 years, you learn very quickly that just doing an okay broadcast is not enough.”

As we’ve heard from others, Moore and Hall were alike in many ways. Dave Moody and his associates at MRN heard Hall and Moore preach that same message and they carry on with this idea.

“If you walk away from that booth, if you put down that headset at the end of the day, having not done absolutely everything you could possibly do to make that the best broadcast it can be, you failed yourself.”

“Joe picked that up a long time ago and he passed it along to a lot of us,” Moore said.

Leadership

So far, Moore was described as a leader, but in his own type of way. Moody shared how he wasn’t the “General Patton” type of leader.

“He’s not a guy that steps out to the front of the line and says, ‘OK everybody, I’m in charge,'” he said, pointing out that Moore would say, “‘I’m going to go out here, I’m going to put everything I have in this broadcast, and I sure hope you will too.'”

That strong leadership trickled down to everyone that’s picked up an MRN microphone and made fans look forward to racing on radio.

So, when you talk about a legend in an industry, why not get stories and thoughts of that person’s career by someone that knows legends, works with them, and helps enshrine them in to a Hall of Fame?  Joe Moore’s long time colleague and Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Winston Kelley, shares his thoughts.

Winston Kelley

Kelley echoes a sentiment that everyone shared about Joe and the first time they met him. For Kelley, that happened at Rockingham in 1987.

“One of the things I do remember is everybody was very welcoming and helpful and encouraging,” he said. “They knew how much that I wanted to be a part the MRN team.”

While Kelley doesn’t recall all of the details of that first meeting, he shared how there were many times that they had spent time together over the years, with that first meeting being the start of many great memories.

“I remember going out in to the turn with Joe to spot for him,” Kelley indicated. “I was just glad to be there and I was a little bit in awe of just being on their side of the business.”

Kelley shared a story when he was with Moore and former pit reporter Jim Phillips and how he would always refer to Moore as “G.I. Joe” and Phillips as “Chop.”

“The three of us somehow ended up riding together a good bit back and forth from the track,” Kelley recalled.  “Joe ended up being one of the first to arrive. He would have the rental car while Chop didn’t necessarily care to drive as much. I would generally come in either Friday night to get most of the time that night because I had another job that I was doing.”

During many of those rides, there was a lot of “needling” going on between the three of them.

Road Trip Fun

As with many road trips, someone would criticize the driver as Kelley called to mind.

“Typically at some point, Chop would start criticizing Joe’s driving,” Kelly said. “Joe, not missing a beat, would look at him and say, ‘You want to drive?’ That would shut him up because he knew that Chop didn’t want to drive. It was all in friendly fun.”

In fact, Kelley considered another moment with a recent retiree of their parent company who was their mutual friend.

“We would needle each other all of the time,” Kelley shared. “It was good camaraderie. I realized we don’t needle people that we don’t like. You end bobbing back and forth with people that you really like and enjoy. Joe was one of those guys. Joe is very quick witted, but he didn’t start the antagonism, but he certainly would get the one line in that get a laugh and turn the tides.”

Knowing Who It’s About

When it comes to the broadcast, Kelley recognized how Joe Moore knew as well as anyone that the broadcast isn’t about “you”. Instead, it’s about the people in the arena. It’s about the people on the track and in the garage.

Kelley worked with Joe since the inception of MRN and has seen and heard many voices. Play-by-play is not an easy position, especially on radio. The tone and the description have to match. The information has to be timely. And, most of all, it has to paint that perfect picture for the listener.

Kelley added, “Joe is one of the best play-by-play guys that I’ve ever worked with. One of the things that I think makes him so good is he elevates his tone based on the circumstances needed. He doesn’t elevate it in the middle of the race when it’s really not that big of a deal.”

When it comes to listening to Moore during a race, Kelley knew when something big took place because his continuous play-by-play elevated the excitement, and he could see that on pit road well before the monitors aiding the reporters.

Hall of Fame

It’s been said many times before, but Joe Moore is what many broadcasters and play-by-play announcers consider as their benchmark. Moore’s career has spanned through the decades with his unmistakable work ethic and voice. When the likes of Moore call it a career, they can call it successful one. But how is a successful career recognized?

For member of the NASCAR media, it would be the award for the two men that came before Joe Moore in the form of Barney Hall and Ken Squier, immortalized through the Squier-Hall Award.

This award is part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremonies each season. Kelley has seen his compatriots as competitors, and that is no disrespect towards Moore or any broadcaster, which he falls into.

“I’m not sure anyone will rise to the level of Ken Squire and possibly Barney Hall as Hall of Famers,” Kelley mused, adding, “I believe in Barney’s theory that it’s about the competitors, not about the people who talk about the competitors. But, for Joe, he will be recognized as a Squire-Hall Award recipient.”

It’s a tough decision to decide on the winner for each year of the Squire-Hall Award as well as the Landmark Award. Both will likely one day recognize Joe Moore’s career in NASCAR.

Joe Moore will always be recognized by “The Voice.” That is a familiarity that fans will miss on their radios on Sunday afternoons.

Before we sign off, like in part one, I asked Winston Kelley, Dave Moody, and Tiffany Moore how they would write the foreword of a book if Joe Moore wrote one. But, they had to keep it short and sweet.

Musing Minds

Dave Moody:

“Joe is a lover of life. He is 100 percent into everything he does at the time that he does it. When Joe is working on his Raceline TV show, that is the center of his world. If he’s doing an MRN broadcast, that’s the most important thing on the planet. Or, if he’s out to dinner with his wife, or out to dinner with a bunch of the guys from MRN, he will order the wine and you better believe it’ll be a damn good bottle of wine. Joe is a lover of life and he’s a liver of life. He lives in the moment better than anybody I’ve ever known.”

Winston Kelley:

“I think versatility and being accomplished, you know, not everybody can do pit road. Not everybody can do play-by-play. Not everybody can do the booth. He does all of that. So I think humility, again, it’s not about him, you know, he never tried to get the attention or you know, be the center of attention, or make the broadcast about him.

I would say the other word is loyalty, not just to the network, which is part of it, and not just to his friends because he’s very loyal to them all. But he was very loyal to his mother before she passed away and to his brother. Even as much as he wanted to move to Florida, he wouldn’t leave his mom, and his brother had to come with them.”

Tiffany Moore:

“It would be expected that I’d write about his life with racing. But, Joe has always been very adamant about not taking up his entire life with the career not coming first. What a loyal and wonderful human being. He is certainly known for being the voice of NASCAR. But there is so much more to him than that. I would hope that other people can come to see that now that he is stepping away from the sport. Hopefully, he will be going to be showing some of his other interests here pretty soon.”

I want to thank everyone that shared such great memories of Joe Moore. He followed in the steps of many before him. Now, Joe Moore’s career is inspiring the next round of broadcasters.

Dave Moody puts a perfect bow on the type of person Joe Moore was, and what he would do for you.

“If you made a mistake during the broadcast, he wouldn’t point it out on the air. He would cover it on the air and make it sound like you had been exactly right all along and it takes a really special breed of person to do that.”

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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