Was that an attempt to hold the female Land Speed Record?
Murphy: No, it was just
quarter mile stuff, oh and then after that we went to the
Winternationals in Pomona and I got to make a pass, in Pomona.
How much maneuvering and diplomatic rhetoric in getting you
licensed in a rocket car?
Murphy: NHRA didn't care,
'cause I first started drag racing with a funny car. Originally,
I had my Funny Car license for 6 months or something like
that and NHRA pulled my license. They said it was an unsafe
category for women to participate in and the only thing we
could drive was super stock. Shirley Muldowney and myself
were in more or less dragster-type cars: funny cars, fuel
cars. At that time, Shirley didn't have a (nitro) license;
she had a dual engine Top Gas car...
Anyway, Andy Granatelli and STP put up a great deal of contingency
money. I guess Andy said, okay, Wally (Parks of NHRA), if
you don't give our girl her license back; we're going to pull
our contingency money.
Very shortly thereafter I got my license back.
Do you think Andy Granatelli’s motives were for women's
Murphy: He was the PT Barnum
of the Automotive World.
But he had to be somewhat progressive on order not to take
any guff, you know from the NHRA in the 1960s.
Murphy: Oh right.
When did you first go over to England with the Miss STP funny
Murphy: 1972. We raced not
only there, two weekends in Santa Pod, then another weekend
we went down to a RAF base near Brighton. But Brighton got
So in ‘64 you went to Indy and so you were doing Bonneville
and Indy. When did it lead to Super Stock cars?
Murphy: In '65. I was in
a ‘65 Oldsmobile that Dick Landy had driven and prepared.
Then I had a ‘66 that he prepared and we ran C/Stock
Automatic. We kept getting protested because he put in a 4-speed
station wagon transmission in the thing and it was really
supposed to be just a 3-speed. The Buicks had the 4-speed,
and they just killed us all the time. Then Landy put the 4-speed
in. They would say, “I can hear another shift... We
can hear another shift.” But the tech people never tore
the transmission out of the thing, because it looked just
like a regular 3 speed.
That's classic - So you guys were touring with this car?
Murphy: No, we just ran
locally in California.
So what was it like doing all these different things and all
of a sudden you're on a blown 392 on nitro?
Murphy: Well, the first
time I ran the (funny) car I was at Lions, and I forget how
long it took to get a license. I think it was three times.
Don Garlits and Tom McEwen signed my UDRA license, that was
the first license I got, and then I got my NHRA license. It
was different, sitting in the middle of a funny car with that
weird outfit on. It made a lot of noise and burned your eyes.
Did it scare you?
Murphy: No. It was just
You’ve had so many different forms of propulsions.
Murphy: I prefer sports
car racing to any other racing I've done. You're in the car
for a little while and you get turn right and left it takes
greater skill to be a good competitive road racer than to
step on the pedal and go a quarter mile. You're only as good
as your mechanic -- and how much nerve you've got!
So you drove an IndyCar when women weren’t allowed on
Gasoline Alley. Did you realize what a real trailblazer you
were when this was happening?
Murphy: Oh yeah. Being first
one out on the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway that was a tremendous
Janet Guthrie did okay there, but there really hasn’t
been much of feminine presence there, compared to say, Top
Fuelers in drag racing.