Top Fuel Champion, Again, the Always Innovating Jim Murphy

When the 2013 Nostalgia Top Fuel season began at the March Meet in Bakersfield, California, Jim Murphy’s name came up in the talk about who could be a factor for the 2013 World Championship.  Was he a favorite? It could honestly be said, no, not a favorite -- but a factor, yes.

Murphy at last fall’s California Hot Rod Reunion  (Tim Marshall photo)

Murphy was running a car that he and his crew had built a few years ago, and, always the innovator, Murphy was always tinkering with many different things. Murphy worked on a different configuration of fuel injectors, different engine placement in the car, among other things, always looking to do something just a little bit better.

This year Murphy was again working on something that would make not only his top fueler better, but safer.  In the past nostalgia top fuel dragsters have been plagued with oil downs. Oil downs caused by various anomalies, mostly by burned pistons over pressurizing the oiling system and pushing oil out of the engine. Resulting in a mess on the racetrack and resulting in downtime for cleanup.

Therefore, Murphy, ever the thinker, started to tinker and fabricate and reached out to another innovator and engineer in the sport, Jim Head. The two Jims collaborated on a system to relieve the pressure in the engine block when a piston burns.

The system turned out to be an unqualified success. The system saw action a couple of times and both times no oil ever hit the racetrack.

Then, after a less than stellar March Meet, another opportunity came to Murphy in the form of a new (to him) car. Frank Ousley whose “Crop Duster” car won the March Meet with Jimmy Young at the control, had made the decision to step back from dragsters and concentrate on nostalgia funny cars.

This was a tipping point for Murphy’s year, in two aspects.  First, a new car that was a proven winner, one that was more technologically advanced to his old ride. Second, in this same time frame, long-time tuner and close friend, Tim Beebe, had told Murphy that he would not be going to the races anymore. There was no ill will on either party, and today they are still the best of friends, but Beebe, just wasn’t feeling it anymore and decided to call it a day.

As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and this is what happened for Murphy.