The Tragic Story of Rob Moroso

By: Drew Hierwarter

Times were good for Rob Moroso in 1990. He was young and life was full of excitement. He had made it to the big leagues of American stock car racing, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The previous year he had won the NASCAR Busch Grand National Championship, at the time the youngest to ever accomplish that feat. In just four years in that series he entered 89 races and won 6 of them, four of those coming in the championship winning year. After the first 25 races of his initial Winston Cup season he had one top ten finish to his credit and was looking like a shoe-in to be named the 1990 Rookie of the Year. Yes, life was good.


Moroso was used to good things. He was born in Madison, CT on September 28th, 1968, the same year that his father, Dick Moroso started a company called Moroso Performance Products. The senior Moroso was a nationally famous drag racer who saw a need for better engine parts and other products designed for racers. He pioneered such items as deep sump oil pans, tall valve covers, and electric water pumps. Racers soon realized that Moroso’s products were superior to what had been available and his company prospered.


Young Rob Moroso grew up surrounded by the high performance world and the many racers that were his dad’s customers. It was only natural that he would become a racer himself. His first race in the NASCAR Busch Series was at Orange County Speedway in 1986 and his first win came in a 200 lap race in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1988. He won one other race that year and then four more in his championship year of 1989. By this time his move up to the Winston Cup level was a foregone conclusion.


Moroso’s 1990 Winston Cup season was typical for any young driver making the transition to the top level. There were accidents and disappointments, but there was also a best finish of ninth and optimism about his chances to win the Rookie title. But just two days after his twenty second birthday, it all came to an end.


Earlier in the day, Moroso had finished 21st in the Holley Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. Driving on a road near his home in Mooresville, NC, Moroso, the young and talented race car driver who was used to driving at high speeds, approached a curve at what police estimated was 40 mph above the posted limit. He lost control of his car and collided with another car coming in the opposite direction. Both drivers died. A later test indicated that Moroso’s blood alcohol level was 0.22, more than twice the legal limit.


A bright light had tragically been snuffed out too early. The 1990 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award was given to Rob Moroso posthumously by NASCAR. And now no one will ever know how many more races or championships he could’ve won. Sadly, only eight years later, Rob’s father Dick Moroso would succumb to cancer. But the company he started more than 40 years ago, now run by another son, Rick Moroso, still thrives today and continues to produce innovative products for racers everywhere.  

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