Rebuilding the classics
Jackie Moore has been a mechanic his entire life, but it wasn't until the past five or six years that he started rebuilding some of the most beautiful cars you'll see in Pocahontas County. Moore found plenty of potential projects growing up in this area.
"When I was growing up as a kid, there was all kinds of 'em just sittin' around," said Moore.
Moore does all the work in his garage and has rebuilt more than a dozen automobiles himself. Moore does it all; from body work and mechanical work, to upholstery and painting. Moore said he finds most of his parts on the Internet. In years past, he has drag raced, mud bogged and street raced his cars.
"They're more or less just toys," joked Moore.
Moore first street raced and drag raced cars, and eventually delved into mud bogging. Not only did Moore participate in mud bogs, but he also helped build the mud pit at Stillwell Park in Marlinton, where a mud bog race is held annually during Pioneer Days.
Moore's friends have testimonials to his aptitude and artistry.
Pat Beck has known Moore since he was a teenager, and said over the years he has learned a lot helping Moore work on his vehicles.
"I first met him when I was about 14 years old. We always had a lot of fun together. He's a good friend. He was the best man at my wedding," said Beck. "I've learned a lot of stuff off him as far as mechanics. We used to go racing a lot back in the '70s, drag racing.
Beck remembers when Moore would work on his drag racer in town.
"He used to come down to the Gulf station when it was here in town and work on it. We'd go to Waynesboro, Virginia every weekend and drag race. We did that for a few years, and I guess he got tired of doing that. That's when he started mud boggin'. He tore his drag racer apart and made it into a four-wheel drive. We went through two or three mud boggers until he built the fast one, 'Pam's Headache.'"
'Pam's Headache' is a mud bogger Moore built and raced and is affectionately named after Moore's wife, Pam.
According to Beck, Moore has always had a talent for working on vehicles.
"He can fix anything. He used to be a heavy equipment mechanic in the coal mines and stuff like that. He can fix about anything that needs to be fixed," he said.
The racing circuit provides stories, along with dents, scrapes and broken glass.
"He's had a lot of mishaps. One time he was racing and the throttle stuck on him coming out of the end of the pit. There was a creek down on across this farmer's field. He went all the way through the field, hit a big tree and then flipped over and went into the creek. I asked him, 'Man, what were you thinking when you saw that tree coming?' He said 'I wasn't worried about the tree. I can't swim. I was worried about going in the creek!'
Beck recalls traveling around with Moore to different race events.
"We'd travel all over West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. He was well known all around the state. Him and 'Pam's Headache'. He might not have always had the fastest car, but it was always a good-looking one," Beck recalled.
Mike Hollandsworth has also known Moore since he was young, but he insists he never helped Moore when he was tinkering.
"I've known him almost all my life, as far as running around with him, probably the last 30 or 35 years. I've been huntin' with him a lot; he's a good friend. I always said I never worked with Jack, because I always felt like I was in the way, but I would hand him tools or whatever. It was always so natural for him. He's very talented," he said.
Some of the stories shared by Moore's friends almost sound unbelievable, like the time they built a truck from the frame up in a single weekend.
Hollandsworth said he remembers that time in particular; it was the Friday before hunting season.
"Hunting season came in on Monday," said Hollandsworth. "So he was going to build a truck to take hunting. So he went to Bogg's Junkyard Friday and told them, 'I need this frame that you got here.' 'They said well can you come back and get it Monday?' Well Jack said 'No, I want to build a truck to take huntin' Monday.' The guy said 'What!?'"
Hollandsworth walked into Moore's shop that evening after work, and the project was already waiting.
"There was a front end with wheels and springs here and a rear end with wheels and springs there, and we got started," said Hollandsworth. "I'm talking about puttin' the cab on, putting the motor in, putting the bed on, put the doors on, the fenders, the brakes; and we went huntin' Monday morning in his truck."
Hollandsworth also remembers his time spent with Moore in the mud bogging circuit.
"I went to mud bogs with him, it was an experience. That's another thing he decided he was just gonna do, and he sat down and built his first one, a '64 Nova I believe," he said.
Jerry Gum refuses to acknowledge that he is the cause of Moore's interest in mud bogging, but he does concede that Moore is one of the most skilled mechanics around.
"He claims I'm the one that got him caught up into mud bogging, but that's just not true," joked Gum. "He helped me build one though, and we'd work on 'em together. He's one of the most talented mechanics I've ever seen. He really taught me a lot."
Moore's racing evolved from street and drag racing to mud bogging. Nowadays, Moore spends his off time rebuilding old muscle cars.
"Since he quit racing, he's taken an interest in restoring old cars. He's always had an interest in cars, hot rods, classic cars; he likes to go fast," laughed Beck.
Some of the vehicles in Moore's current collection are true American classics: a spotless 1972 Chevelle and a pristine 1968 Chevy Camaro, but the jewel of his collection would be his 1967 Chevelle Super Sport.
"I went to Pennsylvania to get that one. It had a pretty good body on it, but I repainted it, put some new bumpers and chrome on it, reupholstered the seats," he said. "That's my favorite one; I had one when I was a kid. It runs pretty good."
"I think he [taught] himself most of that stuff. He's just got the talent. Some people got it, some people don't. Jack, well, he's got it," said Hollandsworth.