Rob Moroso

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Robert Moroso
Born (1968-09-26)September 26, 1968
Madison, Connecticut
Died September 30, 1990(1990-09-30) (aged 22)
Near Mooresville, North Carolina[1]
Cause of death Highway automobile crash
Achievements 1989 NASCAR Busch Series champion
Awards

1989 Busch Series Most Popular Driver

1990 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year (posthumously)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
29 races run over 3 years
Best finish 30th - 1990
First race 1988 Oakwood Homes 500 (Charlotte)
Last race 1990 Tyson Holly Farms 400 (North Wilkesboro)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
86 races run over 4 years
Best finish 1st - 1989
First race 1986 Roses Stores 150 (Rougemont)
Last race 1989 Winston Classic (Martinsville)
First win 1988 Myrtle Beach 200 (Myrtle Beach)
Last win 1989 All Pro 300 (Charlotte)
Wins Top tens Poles
6 42 9
Statistics current as of March 4, 2012.

Rob 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 Sprint Cup Series) Rookie of the Year award. A promising young driver, he was killed in a traffic accident 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, Richard D. "Dick" Moroso, was a New Rochelle, New York-born former drag racer who founded Moroso Performance the year Rob was born. Rob Moroso's father served as his owner and sponsor for much of his 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 #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 #15 Chevrolet at Rockingham Speedway, finishing 18th.[3][8] Moroso began running full-time in 1987, driving the #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 of 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 made his debut in Winston Cup in 1988 at Charlotte in the #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 #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]

Motorsports career results[edit]

Winston Cup Series[edit]

Year Races Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Rank
1988 2 0 0 0 0 54th
1989 2 0 0 0 0 63rd
1990 25 0 0 1 0 30th
Total 29 0 0 1 0

Busch Series[edit]

Year Races Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Rank
1986 2 0 0 0 0 59th
1987 25 0 2 8 0 15th
1988 30 2 10 18 2 2nd
1989 29 4 12 16 7 1st
Total 86 6 24 42 9 89' Champ

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, the driver of the vehicle in the opposite lane. The passenger in Moroso's vehicle, girlfriend Debbie Bryant, as well as a passenger in Williams' vehicle both survived the crash.[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 accident, 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 accidents 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 posthumously awarded the Raybestos NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award in 1990, the only driver to receive the award under such conditions.[3][8]

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. Retrieved 2009-02-20. [dead link]
  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 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. 
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