Rob Moroso

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Rob Moroso
Born(1968-09-26)September 26, 1968
Madison, Connecticut
DiedSeptember 30, 1990(1990-09-30) (aged 22)
Near Mooresville, North Carolina[1]
Cause of deathHighway automobile crash
Achievements1989 NASCAR Busch Series champion
Awards1989 Busch Series Most Popular Driver 1990 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year (posthumously)
NASCAR Cup Series career
29 races run over 3 years
Best finish30th (1990)
First race1988 Oakwood Homes 500 (Charlotte)
Last race1990 Tyson Holly Farms 400 (North Wilkesboro)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
86 races run over 4 years
Best finish1st (1989)
First race1986 Roses Stores 150 (Rougemont)
Last race1989 Winston Classic (Martinsville)
First win1988 Myrtle Beach 200 (Myrtle Beach)
Last win1989 All Pro 300 (Charlotte)
Wins Top tens Poles
6 42 9
Statistics current as of March 4, 2012.

Robert James Moroso (September 26, 1968  – September 30, 1990) was a NASCAR racing driver who was champion of the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) in 1989,[2] and was posthumously awarded the 1990 NASCAR Winston Cup (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) Rookie of the Year award. A promising young driver, he and another driver were killed when Moroso was driving under the influence at excessive speeds on roads near his hometown of Terrell, North Carolina.[2][3]

Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, he was the son of Dick Moroso,[4] founder of Moroso Performance, suppliers of aftermarket automotive parts, and former owner of Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida.[5]

Early life[edit]

Moroso grew up in Madison, Connecticut with two other siblings, Rick and Susan. His father was Richard D. "Dick" Moroso, who served as owner and sponsor for much of the younger Moroso's racing career.[6][7]

After graduating from high school, Moroso enrolled in courses at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, though he failed to complete them. He also attended the Buck Baker Racing School at Rockingham Speedway.[6]

Racing career[edit]

Busch Series[edit]

Moroso made his debut in the Busch Series at Orange County Speedway in North Carolina in 1986. two days after his 18th birthday. Driving the No. 23 Old Milwaukee Chevrolet, he qualified an impressive sixth, but finished 21st after suspension issues.[3][8] He made his second start of the season in Rick Hendrick's No. 15 Chevrolet at Rockingham Speedway, finishing 18th.[3][8] Moroso began running full-time in 1987, driving the No. 25 Oldsmobile owned by his father and sponsored by Moroso Performance. Moroso ran 25 of 27 races that season, with eight top tens and a 15th-place points finish.[3] 1988 was a breakout season for Moroso.[8][3] He won his first career race in July 1988 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, at the age of 19, after out-dueling defending series champion Larry Pearson.[3][4][8] He would score his second win of the season at Charlotte, and finished second in the final Busch series points to Tommy Ellis.[8]

In 1989 Moroso, was vying with veteran driver Tommy Houston for the championship in the final race of the year, at Martinsville Speedway. Houston's engine failed during the race, while Moroso finished third and won the title by 55 points from Houston. At the time Moroso was the youngest champion in the history of NASCAR.[4][8] Moroso won a total of six races from 1988 to 1989, including 3 consecutive at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and was voted the most popular driver on the circuit.[4]

Winston Cup Series[edit]

Moroso's 1990 Crown Oldsmobile on display at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame

Moroso made his debut in Winston Cup in 1988 at Charlotte in the No. 47 Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, finishing 14th.[8] He would race one more time in 1988 and ran two races in 1989 as a warm up for the following season. Moroso declared he was running for Rookie of the Year in the 1990 season, driving the No. 20 Crown Central Petroleum Oldsmobile for his father.[8] The highlight of the season was a ninth-place finish in the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona.[8]

Death[edit]

On September 30, 1990, four days after his 22nd birthday, Moroso was killed in an automobile crash on North Carolina Highway 150 near Mooresville, North Carolina only hours after finishing 21st in the Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Traveling at an estimated 75 mph (121 km/h), Moroso lost control of his vehicle in a curve with a 35 mph (56 km/h) posted speed limit, skidding over 200 feet before being struck in the driver's side door by an oncoming car in the opposite lane. The resulting collision killed both Moroso and Tammy Williams, a 27 year old nursing assistant, wife and mother who was driving in the opposite lane.[9] The passenger in Moroso's vehicle, girlfriend Debbie Bryant, as well as a passenger in Williams' vehicle both survived with injuries.[8][9][2][10]

Investigations revealed that he had been driving under the influence of alcohol. Moroso had been seen drinking several beers at a Cornelius, North Carolina lounge prior to the crash, and his blood alcohol level was found to be 0.22, over twice the then legal level of 0.10.[9][11][12] He also had been convicted of speeding four times between 1987 and 1989, and had been involved in two prior highway crashes which included a rollover.[9][11] Judges could have revoked his license at least twice, which would have made him ineligible to compete in NASCAR events, but the charges were reduced.[11][13]

Moroso earned enough points after completing just 25 of 29 races that he was awarded the Raybestos NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award in 1990, the only driver to ever receive the award posthumously.[3][8]

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series[edit]

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 NWCC Pts
1988 Hendrick Motorsports 47 Chevy DAY RCH CAR ATL DAR BRI NWS MAR TAL CLT DOV RSD POC MCH DAY POC TAL GLN MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR CLT
14
54th 191
Moroso Racing 22 Olds NWS
31
CAR PHO ATL
1989 DAY CAR ATL RCH DAR BRI NWS MAR TAL CLT DOV SON POC MCH DAY POC TAL GLN MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV
28
MAR CLT NWS CAR PHO ATL
34
63rd 140
1990 20 DAY
38
RCH
15
CAR
30
ATL
33
DAR
26
BRI
30
NWS
32
MAR
13
TAL
37
CLT
26
DOV
29
SON
42
POC
36
MCH
16
DAY
9
POC
32
TAL
12
GLN
13
MCH
26
BRI
30
DAR
13
RCH
28
DOV
28
MAR
21
NWS
21
CLT CAR PHO ATL 30th 2184
Daytona 500[edit]
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
1990 Moroso Racing Oldsmobile 36 38

Busch Series[edit]

NASCAR Busch Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 NBSC Pts
1986 23 Olds DAY CAR HCY MAR BRI DAR SBO LGY JFC DOV CLT SBO HCY ROU IRP SBO RAL OXF SBO HCY LGY ROU BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR ROU
21
CLT 59th 209
Hendrick Motorsports 15 Olds CAR
18
MAR
1987 Moroso Racing 25 Olds DAY
15
HCY MAR
28
DAR
16
BRI
30
LGY
19
SBO
8
CLT
28
DOV IRP
5
ROU
8
JFC
15
OXF
5
SBO
13
HCY
16
RAL
21
LGY
13
ROU
13
BRI
7
JFC
22
DAR
36
RCH
11
DOV
9
MAR
6
CLT
7
CAR
12
MAR
24
15th 2949
1988 DAY
9
HCY
10
CAR
22
MAR
3
DAR
6
BRI
4
LNG
13
NZH
2*
SBO
7
NSV
16
CLT
4
DOV
12
ROU
4
LAN
18
LVL
20
MYB
1
OXF
40
SBO
13*
HCY
9
LNG
6
IRP
33
ROU
3
BRI
27
DAR
8
RCH
3
DOV
34
MAR
10
CLT
1
CAR
11
MAR
2
2nd 3986
1989 DAY
3*
CAR
1
MAR
23
HCY
3
DAR
9
BRI
6
NZH
22
SBO
4
LAN
2
NSV
18
CLT
1
DOV
17
ROU
20
LVL
9
VOL
1*
MYB
7*
SBO
5
HCY
28
DUB
13
IRP
14
ROU
16
BRI
22
DAR
12
RCH
4
DOV
23
MAR
2
CLT
1
CAR
12
MAR
3
1st 4001

References[edit]

  1. ^ Associated Press (October 2, 1990). "Rob Moroso, Stock Car Driver, 22". nytimes.com. Mooresville, North Carolina: The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Obituaries: Rob Moroso, Stock Car Driver, 22". New York Times. October 2, 1990. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g SM Staff (November 4, 2010). "The Original 'Sliced Bread', Remembering Rob Moroso". speedwaymedia.com. speedwaymedia.com, USA Today. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Through The Lens: Rob Moroso". National Speed Sport News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  5. ^ Lazzarino, Chris. "Nascar Driver Moroso Is Killed In Highway Crash". sun-sentinel.com. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b Purkey, Mike (February 25, 1990). "Stock Car Racing`s Next King?: Only 21, `Crown Prince` Rob Moroso Gets Big Buildup". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune, Knight Ridder Newspapers. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Automotive Entrepreneur Dick Moroso Succumbs to Cancer". Dragracecentral.com. Guilford, Connecticut: Autosales, Inc. November 9, 1998. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sharp, Seth (October 8, 2014). "Remember When: Rob Moroso". popularspeed.com. Popular Speed. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Pearce, Al (October 4, 1990). "Moroso Tragedy The End Result Of Reckless Record". dailypress.com. Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  10. ^ Glick, Shav (October 2, 1990). "NASCAR Driver Moroso Dies in Crash on Highway". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Cross, Duane (November 14, 2005). "Cross' Words: Phoenix". NASCAR. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  12. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: AUTO RACING; Concern Over Image". New York Times. October 5, 1990. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  13. ^ Dame, Mike (October 4, 1990). "Moroso Had Flirted With Death: Blood-alcohol Level Is Measured At .22". orlandosentinal.com. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Dick Trickle
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
1990
Succeeded by
Bobby Hamilton
Preceded by
Tommy Ellis
NASCAR Busch Series Champion
1989
Succeeded by
Chuck Bown