CHAMPCAR/CART: Friends, family say goodbye to Greg Moore

Friends, family say goodbye to Greg Moore JIM MORRISVancouver Sun VANCOUVER (CP) - Greg Moore was remembered Wednesday as a man who flooded his friends with memories and left their hearts burning with his passion for life. A cold rain and dark ...

CHAMPCAR/CART: Friends, family say goodbye to Greg Moore

Friends, family say goodbye to Greg Moore

JIM MORRISVancouver Sun

VANCOUVER (CP) - Greg Moore was remembered Wednesday as a man who flooded his friends with memories and left their hearts burning with his passion for life. A cold rain and dark skies deepened the sombre mood as family, friends and CART officials attended a private memorial service for the Maple Ridge, B.C., race car driver who died in a spectacular crash Sunday.

Moore's father Ric, who before every race leaned over and whispered into his son's ear, battled tears as he spoke.

"What happened Sunday was beyond everybody's but God's control," he said in a choking voice.

"He loved life and life loved him. And most people in two lifetimes would not have the memories he took with him. I don't know if there is a heaven, but if there is one, he is there, probably on the pole."

Moore's sister Annie attempted to read a poem, but broke down. Her brother James finished the poem for her.

Moore, 24, was killed on lap 10 of the final CART race of the season at Fontana, Calif. His parents and girlfriend attended the race and watched his Mercedes-Benz-powered Reynard disintegrate after hurtling into a wall at more than 350 kilometres an hour.

"He flooded us with memories and stories and treats and questions," fellow driver Jimmy Vasser told the 1,200 people who filled St. Andrew's Wesley United Church.

"The thing I keep coming back to is his passion. A passion for his friends, a passion for his life. He taught us to be passionate. To love life and not waste a single day."

In his homily, Father Philip De Rea said on the morning of his death Moore gave him a huge hug at the race and said how happy he was.

"Sure it's sad. Sure it's tragic," De Rea said of Moore's accident. "But were not our hearts burning when he was with us?"

Also at the memorial were Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve, fellow Canadian racer Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti with girlfriend Ashley Judd, CART CEO Andrew Craig, Gerry Forsythe, owner of the team Moore raced for, and Roger Penske, owner of the team Moore was to have raced for next season.

Tears rolled down Forsythe's face as he recalled his last conversation with Moore.

"On Sunday I said to Greg 'This is not our last race. We'll race again together and we will,' " he said.

"A bright and shining star looked down upon us."

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Jean Chretien extended his sympathies to the Moore family.

"Greg Moore was blessed with enormous gifts, with an abiding joy in his work and a great zest for life," Chretien said in a statement.

"No mere words can adequately capture the void that his death has left in so many lives."

A bagpiper blew the haunting strains of Amazing Grace as mourners filed out of the church, huddled under umbrellas to protect them from the rain.

Craig said it was a day of profound sadness for everyone involved in racing.

"Greg Moore embodied everything that was really good about the sport," Craig said. "He was young, strong, fit and courageous."

Stuart Ballantyne, general manager of the Vancouver Molson Indy, said local race organizers have been bombarded with suggestions to rename the event in Moore's honour.

"Talk of any legacy projects are very premature," he said. "It depends on what the family's wishes would be."

Moore's body was cremated Tuesday.

A public service is planned for Thursday in Maple Ridge.

Moore began driving go-karts at age 10 and by 14 won the 1989 North American Enduro championships in only his third year. He was rookie of the year in two developmental series - Formula 1600 and Formula 2000 West - before moving into Indy Lights in 1993, the stepping stone to CART.

He was 18 when he won his first Indy Lights race in 1994 and 22 when he became the youngest driver to win a CART race in 1996. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks to The Vancouver Sun for permission to reprint this story.

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