IN MEMORY OF BERT MORELAND
By Floyd Busby
Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame member Bert Moreland passed away in
early December. Bert drove midgets with BCRA beginning in 1946 and was
seriously injured in 1950 when he flipped over the wall at the Contra Costa
Speedway. Prior to his injury, he won two main events in 1947, placing 14th in
points. He placed 19th in '48 out of 131 drivers and the following year again
scored two feature wins and placed 12th. Along with other BCRA competitors,
Bert raced at the famed Gilmore Speedway in Southern California. His accident
in 1950 paralyzed him from the waist down and he spent the rest of his life in
a wheel chair.
The goodness of his fellow competitors came to the fore after the accident.
Many midget and hard top drivers built Bert's home on property in Santa Clara.
This is where his two sons, John and Lester were born and raised.
As soon as Bert became mobile, Bob Barkhimer put him to work at the pit gate
at Cal Stock races. This continued when Barky, along with Margo Burke, created
Bob Barkhimer Associates with more than 20 race tracks in California.
Eventually Bert became manager of the Watsonville Speedway and continued his
association when Ken Clapp and Burke purchased BBA from Barky and created
CARS, Inc. After he retired from CARS, Inc., Bert worked the back pit gate for
John Soares at Petaluma before final retirement.
A few years ago, with the passing of his wife Gay, he sold his Santa Clara
home and moved to Ripon to be with his son John.
I remember as a youngster in 1949 riding as a passenger with Bert and my
father, towing a midget to race at Fortuna. As we were taking one of the many
turns through the coastal mountains, all of a sudden I saw a wheel pass us and
bounce up the steep hillside. It was the left wheel from the midget trailer.
Bert and dad secured it back onto the trailer and we were on our way.
Former BCRA champion Gary Koster has restored the rail midget that Bert drove
for owner/builder Freddie Agabashian. In 1948 he ran 14 races and in 1949
campaigned the car nine times at the Oakland indoor races. In the Tom Motter
book, "BCRA - the First 50 Years", a photo of Bert in the Agabashian
car is on page 64.
A long and distinguished career....Bert Moreland will be missed.
PHOTO: Bert Moreland was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 2000.