EAST LEROY, Mich.
Billy Moyer, Jr. was sweat-soaked and slightly aggravated. He had just finished second in a Summer Nationals race, coming up short in a hard-fought bid for his first tour victory.
He was just flat outrun and couldn’t say exactly what he would’ve needed to do better.
Moyer was discussing it with his crew in a serious manner. Not heated or anything close to it, but still all business.
He was approached by a small boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old, wanting an autograph. The 22-year-old driver, tall as he is, must’ve looked like a giant to the child.
I wanted to see what would happen. Scenes like that are more crucial than some people think, and they interest me.
The child was shy, obviously not an experienced autograph seeker. He also was very polite and well behaved. Moyer didn’t see him at first, continuing with his conversation and not smiling.
I looked at the up-and-coming wheelman in his brightly colored, flamboyant driving suit and wondered.
The child did something to gain attention. A noise, movement, I’m not sure what. The driver looked down to see about it and the business end of things was immediately done.
“Whattya say, dude?” Moyer asked as he bent down eye level with the youngster and smiled right at him. He spoke some other words I couldn’t quite make out and signed the kid’s T-shirt.
“There you go,” Moyer said, also thanking the young fan.
The kid sauntered off wearing a happy and contented look and the driver went on with his talking. I stood in the background, very pleased with the outcome. It was an impressive thing to see.
Billy Moyer, Jr. will quickly become a familiar face in the world of dirt-late-model racing. Across the Mid-South, he already has, and regional success came fairly soon, too.
National fame and fortune might also come quick, or it might not. Hard to say.
But there’s at least one small boy who’ll care and not forget and someday take notice of it all.
Many folks in the Midwest got their first look at the son of five-time World 100 winner Billy Moyer on the 2010 Summer Nationals tour.
Moyer, Jr. made his debut run at Eldora Speedway the same weekend his famous father captured his second $100,000 Dream victory. From there it was on to the Summer Nationals, where through the first three nights, anything son could’ve done was overshadowed by dad once again turning up in victory lane.
Junior, grumbling about inconsistency, said he was trying to learn all he could.
“I think I’ve got the stuff to hang,” he said.
Moyer, Jr. is a likeable kid with a quick wit and a fun-loving side When his father, one of the most focused and dedicated racers in the business, thought Junior might be playing a bit too much, he told him to take it serious.
“I am taking it serious,” Moyer, Jr. said. “This is a lot of hard work. I’m working my ass off.”
By the tour’s halfway point, Moyer, Jr. held down the seventh-place points position out of the 12 drivers who had competed the first 15 nights.
The names in front of him were mostly seasoned Summer Nationals veterans like Dennis Erb, Jr., Shannon Babb, Jason Feger and Jeep VanWormer.
Early in the 32-day tour, Moyer, Jr. formed an alliance with Babb. The two have been acquainted for years, since the days Babb was part of a three-car Moyer team and Junior was working on the pit crew.
The relationship was proving helpful. Between Babb and the elder Moyer, there are eight Summer Nationals titles and almost 140 feature wins.
Moyer, Jr. is in good company.
The young driver often referred to as Kid Smooth, a reference to his father’s longtime handle Mr. Smooth, will finish a business management degree at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro this December.
He also will race as much as possible. Next season might include a run at the Lucas Oil Late Model Series rookie-of-the-year title.
If his work ethic, equipment and pit crew all stay intact, I’m figuring he’ll have the stuff to hang.
And that just might make a young boy somewhere in the Midwest a little happier than he already is.