A Boys Dream/
As a little boy, Dan had dreams of being a drag racer from his first moments of seeing these amazing new machines shaking the ground at race tracks near his home. These will be cherished memories of a little boy for a lifetime.
Growing Up In The Epicenter/
What will turn into some irony, the family home was just 5 miles from the legendary Kieth Black Racing Engines and a 1/2 mile from Moon Equipment Co. So of course, he was bitten by the racing bug early.
His interests were further nurtured when he was 10 going to the Moon Equipment company and garnering all the decals he could. And who wouldn’t, right? Dan would ride his bike once a week to Moon and get decals for his buddies making him a wanted friend indeed.
It was a new and fascinating sport, in the beginning, throws of its evolution, design, and creation of its fast-growing fan base. These early experiences will shape Dan’s life and career forever.
History Being Made/
Places Dan frequented like Lyons Raceway, Orange County International Raceway, Irwindale Raceway, and Pomana will become legends in his lifetime. There was history made at nearly every event. It was common in those days to witness records being broken and re-established at each event. For organized Drag Racing, it will be a truly thrilling time. It will also prove to be an equally exciting time for this inquisitive young man.
Just after the Don Garlits crash at Lyons Raceway Dan discovered a piece of flywheel stuck in the cyclone fencing which in those days was literally just a foot or two off the track. Dan has kept that piece of flywheel for 50 years. To this day Dan often wonders if it was from Garlits near-fatal explosion and subsequent crash resulting in the car being cut in half and the great one, losing half of one foot.
Old School Entertainment/
In those days events had exciting support shows for added entertainment. Promoters were always looking for a new act. After all, this is where the legendary Evil Knevel will get his act started.
Evel Kenevel will later become a staple for these kind of promoters packing the grandstands.
There were motorcycle jumps along with jet and rocket cars that were the newest phenomenon of the time.
However, even bizarre one-off acts were equally exciting like the rocket go-cart, and rocket roller skater.
Yes, the rocket roller skater !
The Family Move/
After graduating high school the family moved to Lodi California and, as Dan lamented, land of the grapes. He quickly made new friends and had a posse of motorhead friends all enthralled with this new speed sport, drag racing.
Street Racer Days/
Being of age to ‘legally’ drive a vehicle he bought his first car, a 1967 Mustang with a monster 427 cross bolt main ford. Although it was an incredible car, there would be many more like his 1969 428 Cobra Jet. In those days Dan was a street racer pounding the pavement racing anything that wanted a go.
The Speed Equipment Industry/
Dan was a young man immersed in the art and knowledge of speed and power. He read all kinds of books including the hottest literature and a new monthly called Hot Rod Magazine. Dan credits learning how to build his first motors by reading Hot Rod Magazine.
Later Dan would toil under Mark with Russ Hall of Hall Bros in Fair Oaks California.
He dutifully reported to that machine shop located on Folsom Blvd for 5 years.
While at that machine shop he continued to hone the intricate knowledge of performance engine building and would no longer be a street racer.
It was the drag strip that was to be his calling now.
One day the Hall Bros. ask Dan to take their SuperModifified to the Placerville Speedway dirt track in Placerville Ca. He qualified the SuperModified racer, made the show, and had a finish of 4th which was pretty outstanding when you consider he had only been in a SuperModified once before at the world’s fastest sticky icky clay quarter-mile track, West Capitol Speedway in Sacramento California.
It was SuperDan rock’n and roll’n in a SuperModified and he loved it !
Now Dan wanted more speed so he bought an Altered drag racer that had a fuel-injected Boss 302. But even that was not enough, so he pulled the 427 Ford out of his mustang and dropped it into that lightweight Altered he acquired earlier in that year. This was an extremely powerful combination of lightweight and gobs of raw horsepower.
Dan now had 2 race cars but as a hardcore true racer, he had no streetcar !
Dan worked for several machine shops further expanding his unique knowledge base an aptitude for pure racing engines.
Dan The Man Wheeling for another win !
This was his Altered with a 302 Boss fuel injected. It was a nine-second car. Later Dan will drop in a 427 cross bolt main Ford Bad ‘Bouy’. This combination was exceptionally fast. Lightweight and huge torque. This configuration was to achieve the speed Dan craved. Notice not only the fronts off the ground but the rears too ! Dan was leaving around 6,000 RPMs. The tube framed demon with motorcycle front tires mounted on Hildebrand spokes was his favorite racer.
Hired By A Legend Of Speed/
Since moving to northern California Dan was often in Rex Hutchison Racing Engines for parts and more specialized knowledge about a wide breadth of racing engine knowledge.
Rex Hutchison Racing Engines in California, a family-based business for over 50 years by Lorraine and husband Rex was a spot he loved to frequent. Rex was a kind and gentle man who always help racers even if they couldn’t afford his work. One day Rex called Dan personally and hired him to work for the legendary engine builder.
Dan was told if you don’t know the answer ask Rex. Rex took a real shine to Dan finally offering him the position as a permanent full-time job. A job as head counterman for a true race engine building company.
Dan was able to full fill his life long dream of being involved in the building of some of the most exotic engines in the world. Dan worked on Indy Car engines, drag racers, drag boats, circle track, Bonneville streamliners, including an infinite number of other engines by every manufacture in the world. After 30 years, Dan is still running the front office and is ready to strap up on a moment’s notice.
The Family Man/
Dan married and raised a family with his wife Darlene, raised their son Matt, a lovely daughter Megan, and of course the family dog, Avery.
Dan also took his family to the races as his father had. The family was and is an important part of his life now.
Here is the original Don Garlits T-Shirt he bought for his youngest son, Matt. Notice the autograph by the legend himself, Big Daddy Don Garlits !
Well, you can’t be more American that can you !
Dan in A Funny Car/
Brad Virga a long time friend of Dan’s is putting him in the seat to drive a Funny Car and you can expect Dan to have a smile ear to ear. What else is Dan going to drive, stay tuned ! [Word has it, a Hemi powered SuperModified]
As is the case for most people, Dan had heroes that inspired him to strive for his goals in life. Some of those heroes were and still are his father, the great Don Prudhomme and Big, as in Don Garlits for his tenacity and innovations brought to the new sport of Top Fuel Drag Racing
Dan Murphy has lived a life witnessing the evolution of a sport, a sport that still boggles the mind with 11,000 horsepower engines, and 335 mph runs that literally change the air pressure around the track.
Dan is the George Plimton of Rex Hutchison Racing Engines, all of us toast the man who’s seen it all.
Dan Murphy, Vice President Worldwide Operations, SuperDan not just a Counterman.