Need for speed drives 66-year-old Legend racer

Carlos Moore calls himself "Mercury," for "the Greek god of speed," he said.

That's how he feels each time he straps himself into his red No. 9 Legends car for another Tuesday night race in the Kangaroo Express Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, even if he does typically finish in the middle of the pack.

That way he avoids the inevitable wrecks.

At 66, Moore is the circuit's oldest driver, and he said he knows better than to get tangled up with other drivers.

His car has been banged against the wall from behind a time or two, spraining his wrists from the impact. But he usually stays clear, which may explain his respectable 13th place (among 30 drivers) in the season points standings.

His performance is all the more impressive considering he took up the sport at age 60, has two artificial knees, is deaf in one ear and, at 5 feet 8, 230 pounds, considers himself out of shape.

"If I could get down to 185, I could whip Bruce Silver with no trouble at all," Moore joked about the driver and friend in the garage stall beside his.

Or maybe the voodoo doll Moore bought recently in Memphis, Tenn., will help against his 55-year-old pal.

Moore coaxed Silver to race Legends cars, beat him the first two years and now has trouble keeping up with him, Moore he said.

So Moore stuck a black pin in the doll's right foot to affect Silver's use of the pedal and others in its hands, head and stomach to slow him down.

But he stuck a white pin in the doll's heart "so he knows I still love him," Moore quipped.

The lifelong Kannapolis resident has loved working on cars since his teens, when he bought a '49 Ford from a junkyard for $125. All it needed was a transmission, and his first car was good to go, said Moore, who graduated from A.L. Brown High School in 1962.

His father, a machinist, taught him how to fix things, and one of his grandfathers ran a service station. But Moore made his name in racing as an architect. He's designed 65 or more race shops and other racing-related buildings, for such NASCAR notables as Geoff Bodine, Ray Evernham, Ricky Rudd and Darrell Waltrip.

He designed his first shop in 1987 for Bahari Racing in Mooresville and has designed an aircraft hangar for Hendrick Motorsports. Moore met Silver when Silver hired him to design his Racing Electronics shop.

Moore's architecture office is on Church Street North in Concord. His daughter, Virginia Moore, is vice president of the firm and will succeed him soon, he said..

No magic led him to racing, he said. He owned a Legends car when its driver decided not to compete. Moore figured, why not take it for a spin?

He and two friends do the mechanical work on his car, but he makes all the setup calls. He chose No. 9, he said, out of respect for Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Sprint Cup car.

"This is a recreational activity for me," Moore said. "It doesn't matter whether I win or lose. But what I don't like is to be last. My goal is to pass the person in front of me."

"Sometimes he does that with his rear tires," Silver joked, not cutting his friend a bit of slack.

Joyce, his wife of 44 years, thought Moore was crazy when he began to race.

But he's been addicted to speed ever since, he said, and never plans to stop.