Does it bother you that she has gotten more
credit as being like the barrier breaker?
MURPHY: I've done more than she's ever done. I've done other things - I started with sports cars, and then I got into drag racing and I did off-road racing, and twice set the Women's Land Speed Record, twice set the NASCAR Women's' Sports Car record...
Where was that?
MURPHY: At Talladega.
That had to be a thrill. So, the LSR, off road, sports cars -
MURPHY: I drove around the world in 1976 for a record. That was really a once in a lifetime experience. I got to do a lot of things that nobody will ever get to do.
How did it all start?
MURPHY: I worked
at an aircraft company in Van Nuys, and they
had a very active sports car club at work. I
met a couple that had an MG and I thought it
was a cute little car. I found one that was
for sale; I had never driven a manual-shift
five speed,. I bought one and I had to go to
Pasadena to get the thing and it was freezing
cold. They took the top down and drove the thing
home on the Pasadena Freeway back up there to
Granada Hills, and I said what have I got myself
into? I joined the Sports Car club at work and
my friend at work was very active at the Women's
Sports Car Club, which was an affiliate of Sports
Car Club of America. She said, "Come on
out to the sports car races with us." She
said it would be a lot of fun, make new friends
and all. I met a fellow who had an Alfa and
he said, "Why don't you drive my car in the
ladies race?" "No, no, no, no, no." They finally
talked me into it, and they almost had to pick
me up and put me in the car I was shaking so
bad, and I won.
So one ride leads to another, and I ended up
in a Ferrari and a Maserati. I got some really
good rides in the ladies race, and then I raced
a little bit in the men's race, but mostly just
the ladies race.
Then I got a call from the automotive editor
of the L.A. Times, and he asked me if that time
I would be interested in driving a car coast-to-coast,
border-to-border to try to set a transcontinental
speed record. I said sure. Andy Granatelli was
preparing the cars, and we had a Studebaker.
Bill Carroll, who was at that time editor of
Automotive News, came along with us. And we
drove coast-to-coast and border-to-border. One
of us would get in the station wagon and sleep
just a little bit, but we drove non-stop from
L.A. to New York and from New York to San Diego;
and then the Tijuana border to Vancouver and
then back to San Diego.
well, we stopped in New York; we spent a couple
of days in New York and a couple of days in
San Diego and then a couple of days in the Seattle
area and came back down, and shortly after that
Granatelli prepared twelve Studebakers to go
to Bonneville to set records. So then Granatelli
said, "Why don't you go for a Women's Land Speed
record?" So he put me in an 8-cylinder Hawk
and I went 151 (mph); I think it was something
and then he said "How would you like me to go
a little faster?" And I said sure and he put
me in an Avanti and I went 171. A year later
I went back and did the jet car.