Bud Moeller's fascination with
Ferraris goes back to the days of Ferrari great Niki Lauda, one of his
heroes back in the 70's. "He was a driver who not only won world
championships, but had a crash that nearly ended his life, and came back
and won yet another championship after that. Phenomenal," says Moeller.
At age 26, Moeller bought his first Ferrari -- a 308 for weekend use --
with a partner. Moeller had 3/4 of the car, therefore he got the use of
it three weekends of the month. "It worked out just great for both of
us. We were able to do something we couldn't have done alone." Since
then, Moeller has had a Ferrari in the garage almost continuously. "I
got the bug very early," says Moeller. "Once it's in your blood, it
stays." Since then, the Ferraris he's owned include two Daytonas, two
Boxers, a 330 GTC, and a 355; he currently owns a 550 Maranello and has
just received a brand new 360 Spider.
It's only natural that eventually,
Moeller would acquire the ultimate in Ferrari machinery -- a Formula One
race car. His Mauro Forghieri designed 1980 Ferrari 312 T5 had been in
the collection of Luigi Chinetti, the importer for Ferrari of North
America. When he died, son Luigi, Jr. was getting ready to restore a
couple of cars in the collection and planned to sell one in order to
generate cash toward restoration of the others. Moeller had been in the
market for a Ferrari Formula One for eighteen months. "I told Luigi, Jr.
that I was interested in restoring the car and putting it out where
people would see it and hear it, and he said this is probably what his
dad would have enjoyed and wanted to see with the car, so we cut a
deal." That was in 1995; after a year and a half of restoration in
Italy, Moeller has been racing the Ferrari ever since.
Moeller grew up out of the country
(he spent only 3rd grade in the U.S.) -- his father was in the foreign
service, working at embassies and military bases. Moeller's early years
were spent in Germany and his junior high years were spent in his
favorite place, Japan. "I think living outside the U.S. helps to put the
U.S. in perspective in the world."
Moeller's high school years
('68-'72) were spent in England. "We lived about 45 minutes away from
Silverstone and I went to watch Grand Prix races there when I was a kid.
Some really great names -- Jackie Stewart, you know, people like that --
were running. A lot of guys that were revered. That was part of getting
that car stuff into my blood as a teenager."
Moeller returned to the U.S. for
college, receiving his undergrad degree in chemical engineering from
Georgia Tech. But he switched to business, receiving an MBA in general
management and strategy from Harvard. "I enjoyed the leadership and
management side of things much more than designing improved systems for
refineries and so I decided midway through my undergraduate days that I
was going to go for an MBA."
Moeller has been a management
consultant for twenty-four years, currently working in the San Francisco
office of the world's largest management and technology consulting firm,
Accenture, a ten-plus billion dollar company with 75,000 employees
worldwide. Moeller primarily works with
communications and high tech companies. "Our firm works with any
name that you would read in the business press. We help companies
adjust business strategies to evolving
market conditions. My particular specialty is to help them
reorganize and to make all the necessary changes in the future to be
successful. These days it's about downsizing, but in prior years before
we hit this market downturn, a lot of it was helping companies to unlock
their growth potential, helping them to create alliances with other
Of course, racing remained an
attraction and he started running the 308 at Ferrari Club events.
Moeller and the 308's co-owner also autocrossed a Lotus Europa. "It was
very competitive. In fact, I was fourth in the autocross nationals in
In 1984, Moeller's wife, Carol,
gave him a class at the Bondurant School at Sears Point for a birthday
present -- it hooked him on open wheel cars. He went to the Russell
school in '87 and has been racing with their series on and off ever
Not long after, Moeller started
running a Lotus 47 (the racing version of the Lotus Europa) at vintage
events. The car had a rich history at Le Mans, but growing dissatisfied
with the feel of a fendered car, he swapped it for a British built 1979
Formula One Ensign N 179. "They were a second tier team; they're not as
famous as Ferrari and Williams and some of those others. But they did
have a series of pretty good drivers who moved on to other cars. Mine
was driven by Derek Daly, who drove not only in Formula One, but in the
U.S. Now he's a commentator on ESPN." The Ensign is basically Moeller's
second tier car, a backup when the Ferrari starts acting "finicky." "The
Ferrari -- I don't want to say it's easier to drive -- but it inspires
much more confidence because it's a more predictable car. I think that's
reflected by the relative grid positions of those two teams, too. And
the sound of the Ferrari is something that everyone comments on. The
flat 12 is a very different sound than the Cosworth cars, of course."
Moeller's Ferrari was kind of an
interim car for the 1980 team. "They'd won the championship (as well as
second place) in '79 and decided to do just minor updates to the car
for '80 and put their investment efforts into the '81 car, which was
going to be their turbo car. So unfortunately, while they took a minor
step ahead from '79 to '80, everybody else took a leap and they moved
from being the front running, championship-winning team to scoring a
relatively modest number of points in 1980." One problem was that it was
early in the development of ground effects. "They were still pretty
novice when it came to understanding aerodynamics. If a car would catch
a curb, the skirt would lift up, so they'd be very very twitchy on any
sort of a bumpy surface." Moeller's chassis number 46 was built for
Gilles Villeneuve, but '79 champion Jody Scheckter drove it in most of
the races (his best finish being a 5th place at Long Beach). "It really
was down to the driver to kick the thing around and overcome its evil
habits," says Moeller.
Moeller says the car can be rather
squirrelly and doesn't handle as well as the pre-ground effects cars
because Historic Grand Prix will not let them run the skirts
sealed the vacuum under the car,
creating a low pressure zone. "The
challenge of driving one of these cars is that it was designed with
skirts providing the primary downforce. The wings were actually designed
in those days to force air through the tunnels under the car and over
the back end of the car, creating a pressure zone behind it to force the
tunnels to work more effectively. So without ground effects, these wings
are actually very, very ineffective. In fact, if you look at the wing of
the Ferrari, the rear element is actually pointed up -- it looks like an
airplane wing. So by itself, it would lift the car off the ground."
Moeller says a racer running a
sister car in the U.K. has made major improvements in the suspension
geometry. "They're driving in a bit more competitive series than we are
in the United States. Yet we decided we're going to keep ours as
original as possible and have to drive a bit slower."
Nevertheless, Moeller says the
Ferrari is "still plenty fast."
"These cars will do zero to a
hundred in less than four seconds, so they're pretty quick. Anytime
we're out there on the straights, we push them as hard as we can. They
really will fly. I think we were geared for about 190 at Indianapolis
HGP is not the only series Moeller
races in. This year, he ran in the SCCA Formula Mazda series, finishing
second in his region. While he didn't go to the Runoffs, he did well
against last year's national champion at a national race. "There were
two guys from the pro series that were first and second, last year's
national champion was third and I was fourth, so I felt pretty good.
Maybe I'll go to the Runoffs at some point. I was within visual range of
third -- I certainly wasn't trying to pass him on the last lap, but he
was within striking distance."
Moeller finds driving the Formula
Mazda more like driving a go-kart than the powerful Formula One Ferrari,
and the racing is different. "The (SCCA) drivers are by no means as
gentlemanly (as vintage racers) and they're not as skilled. For someone
to be a Grand Prix driver, they've got to have an incredible command of
the machinery and good reflexes and be able to pay great attention to
everything going on around them because things happen so fast. At the
end of the straight at Indy, we were traveling the distance of a
football field in about a second, so you have to be pretty good to
handle a car at that speed."
He found a marked difference in
aggression levels between SCCA and HGP commensurate with the value of
the cars. "(In HGP) if I can get by somebody, I will, so it's racing,
but racing without the edge of focusing on winning over everything else.
These cars are priceless; they have an incredible history. We would be
very poor stewards of these vehicles if we let anything happen to them.
So I think HGP has the right philosophy."
"On the other hand, I do also have
the SCCA formula car series. There, it's pedal to the floor. You know,
stick your nose in where there may or may not be room; you give it a
try. So I get my competitive juices flowing and my aggressions out of
the way in that series. I manage to be a bit more gentlemanly in the
Historic Grand Prix series."
Moeller thinks "HGP is the right
thing in the right place at the right time." "There is a great
appreciation in the U.S. for Formula One and the famous Formula One
history of drivers. For us to be able to bring those cars out is
tremendous for the fans. It's great fun for us, but I think the fans
enjoy it more than we do. There are so many people that have come by and
said, 'I have a picture of this Ferrari at Long Beach,' or Canada or
wherever it is."
While Moeller says racing is his
fundamental outlet for his aggression and passion, he says he also plays
tennis and golf "poorly." "They're much less exciting than getting out
in a race car and going 200 miles per hour. It's kind of hard to find
time for much else when you spend ten or twelve weekends with the SCCA
series and another five or six vintage racing -- all that compressed
between March and November."
Other hobbies when at home in
Danville, California include collecting art and wine. While the Moellers
collect mostly contemporary art -- the premier pieces are by Picasso and
Chagall -- art and racing intersect with a Leroy Neiman painting of the
Caesar's Palace Grand Prix with Villeneuve's Ferrari in front. "He
didn't paint my year, unfortunately, but I do have a couple of other
paintings by other artists of my car. One is by Gavin McLeod -- I think
he's done quite a bit of automotive art."
Moeller describes his wife Carol
as "very supportive" and has come to all of the vintage events. The
Moellers have a 20 year old daughter, Melaine, in college on the East
Coast and a sixteen year old son, Kehne, who comes out to the races and
has driven go-karts. "But he has aspirations for jumping into a race
car. I expect some day to be racing side by side like Danny Baker and
his dad, Bob, in HGP."