By Matt Levins The Hawk Eye
MIDDLETOWN — Billy Moyer has been one of the top late model drivers in the world
since he first sat behind the wheel of a race car in 1977.
Since then, the Batesville, Ark. native, nicknamed “Mr. Smooth,” has 779 career
feature wins to his credit.
Even at 56 years of age, Moyer is still having fun racing. In fact, the only thing
he enjoys more than winning is watching his son, Billy Moyer, Jr., win.
Billy Moyer, Jr., at 26, is one of the up-and-coming-stars in the late model world.
Moyer Jr. currently stands seventh in the points on the UMP Summer Nationals Tour,
one place and 17 points ahead of his father.
The father and son duo will make their way to 34 Raceway on Saturday night for the
UMP Summer National race, which pays $10,000 to the winner.
Billy Moyer would love nothing more than to win at 34 Raceway, a place which holds a
special place in his heart. He is originally from Des Moines and still has family in
the area. And it is the track formerly owned by Johnny Johnson, one of Moyer’s
closest friends and biggest sponsors before Johnson died 3 1/2 years ago.
But if Moyer can’t win the feature himself, he would love nothing more than to be
right there, watching his son take the checkered flag.
Such is the relationship between father and son, on the track and off.
“It’s really neat. It’s something really special, It’s something that doesn’t happen
to a lot of people,” Billy Moyer said of having the opportunity to race against and
alongside his son. “He’s really picked up his program since we got these new cars
this year. He’s beaten me a few times. I have been behind him racing and it’s
actually pretty cool to watching what he’s doing. Sometimes I watch what he’s doing
more than I’m watching what I’m doing.”
“He’s always looked the same to me. He’s always been my Dad. To me it’s been cool to
be a part of a big-time racing deal,” Billy Moyer, Jr. said. “I’m not the normal kid
of a racer. People look up to him, and I do, too.”
Billy Moyer, like his own son, got started in racing because his father before him
raced. Only Billy Moyer didn’t jump in a late model right away. In fact, he didn’t
race cars until late in life. Instead, motorcycle racing was Billy Moyer’s passion,
and he was successful at it, much to his father’s chagrin.
“I did motocross. I ran all over the place. My Dad got me my first motorcycles and I
went to California, New York, all over,” Moyer said. “My Dad always thought I was
going to paralyze myself or something, so he was always trying to get me to go from
two wheels to four. I started stock car racing and 30 years later, here I am.”
And what a 30-year ride it has been. Since switching to late models, Billy Moyer is
the only person to win the prestigious World 100 six times. He has won the UMP
Summer Nationals season title six times, won the I-55 UMP Nationals six times, won
the Magnolia State 100 eight times, won the Prairie Dog Classic, Gopher 50 and USA
Nationals five times each and won the Illinois Fall Nationals and the Topless 100
four times each. In addition, he won the Knoxville Late Model Nationals in 2010. He
was the World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion three times and in 2002 was
inducted into the Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame.
Billy Moyer has seen and done just about everything there is to do in the world of
late model racing.
Through it all, Moyer never pushed his son into racing cars. Sure, Billy Jr, was
there most of the time, but Billy Moyer tried to steer his son into a more stable
lifestyle, something where he could put food on the table and raise a family, more
of a nine-to-five job.
“Billy wanted to do what Dad did. He’s really coming along well,” Bill Moyer said of
his son. “At first I tried to get him to do something else. He went to college and
that’s something I never did. I wanted him to do that, to have a normal family life.
You miss a lot of your family’s life when you are out on the road racing for a
living. I alwasy wanted him to do better than me. I guess that’s something every
father wants for his son.”
“I didn’t start racing until I was 18. I was always helping my Dad, working on cars.
I know how to work on the cars and that’s very important. I’m not some silver-spoon
kid who just gets in a race car and spends his grandma and grandpa’s money,” said
Billy Jr., who graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in business.
“I own most of my own stuff, with some help from my Dad and a lot of help from my
sponsors. I keep it running. I’m in there working on the car all the time. You’ve
got to stay on top of things, not be lazy. You live and die by it. I have two guys
who work really hard on the car. They do whatever I ask.
“I raced even when I was in college. It was difficult, but I wouldn’t take my degree
back for anything.”
Billy Moyer, Jr., nicknamed ‘Kid Smooth,’ is quickly making a name for himself as
one of the top young drivers in the country. He has 30 feature wins to his credit
thus far. He is trying to carry on the family name, while making his own name in the
sport in the process. It has been a difficult juggling act at times, but people from
coast to coast are starting to respect Billy Moyer, Jr., with each passing race.
“I think I’ve made a name for myself on a local basis, but we’re not to that next
step just yet,” Billy Jr. said. “It’s pretty cool racing with my Dad, but once the
race starts he’s just another competitor I’ve go to try to beat. I show my Dad and
all the other drivers a lot of respect. I’m not the kind of guy who goes out there
and runs people over to try to win a race. I think I have the respect of all these
“It used to bother me (being Billy Moyer’s son), but I think I’m starting to make a
name for myself now. I’m not just Billy Moyer’s son anymore. Everybody is starting
to notice now. When we show up for a race, we’re going to be a factor.”
Billy Moyer remembers when he was just breaking into the sport, trying to make a
name for himself. Now, he is enjoying watching his son drive. He gets almost as much
enjoyment watching his son as he does driving himself. He knows how hard it is to
make a living in the racing business.
“I’ve been racing all my life. It’s been good to me. People don’t understand how
much work this is,” Billy Moyer said. “My son is doing well enough now that he wants
to pursue racing as a career. He wants to do what he likes to do, and right now that
is racing cars. I’m very proud of him.”