California Family Makes Thursday Thunder Pit Stop
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The phrase ¿Are we there yet?¿ took on a new meaning for the Murphy family last week.
Mom and Dad Murphy, along with sons Andrew (14), Austin (11) and Broc (9), left their Lancaster, Calif., home last Sunday, headed for the races. For the next four days, they covered more than 3,000 miles in their extended cab truck, three Bandolero cars packed into the trailer behind them.
¿Hurricane¿ Andrew Murphy was the Bandolero division track Champion at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2002 and ¿Awesome¿ Austin Murphy made his debut in Bandoleros last season after winning more than 20 mini-dwarf races. Broc ¿Bam Bam¿ Murphy made his Bandolero debut earlier this season.
Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway was just one pit stop along the Murphys¿ journey to Bandolero Nationals in Orlando, Fla., to see where they stack up against the nation¿s best Bandolero racers.
The racing trio hopes to hit tracks in North Carolina and Texas on their way back to California.
¿We really like to race,¿ said Austin. ¿We are getting to go to all of these new tracks and meeting a lot of new drivers, and it¿s been a lot of fun.¿
With mom and dad in the front seat for the trip, the boys packed into the back seat of the truck, stranding youngest Broc in the middle for most of the trip. Broc, however, didn¿t seem to mind.
¿It seemed like a long way, but not 3,000 miles,¿ Broc said. ¿We broke it up and stopped every night so it was OK. I just wasn¿t sure we were ever going to get here.¿
The Murphys spent two nights in Atlanta before continuing on toward Florida.
STEVENS ROARS IN MUSIC CITY: Three-time Thursday Thunder Pro division champion and current Pro points leader Doug Stevens will be piloting his blue No. 71 Jasper Engines and Transmissions stock car in the ARCA race on Aug. 9 at Nashville Superspeedway.
¿The ARCA series is a great place for me to grow as a racer, and Jasper has given me to opportunity to run several of those races this year,¿ Stevens said. ¿I love to race and as long as I have the backing, a car and a team, I¿ll be on the track.¿
Stevens, a native of McDonough, has more than 21 years of racing experience. He began his ARCA career in 2001 and has never finished outside of the top 13. In his first two ARCA starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stevens finished in 10th and 11th.
In addition to racing, Stevens also owns Advanced Technology Motorsports, a Legends repair shop.
DRIVER SITS PRETTY IN PINK: Some might say it takes a big man to drive a pink car, but Brad Shelnutt doesn¿t seem to notice.
Shelnutt, who claims he¿s five feet and six inches tall, is probably somewhere between his own boast and that of fellow competitor Sean Anderson, who estimates Shelnutt¿s height at ¿5-2, tops.¿
As for the pink car, Shelnutt isn¿t bothered by it.
¿I bought the car this color, but it¿s growing on me,¿ Shelnutt said. ¿It takes more of a man to stand a part from the crowd, so I¿m saying something by having a pink car, I guess. Every other car out here is red or blue. What does that say about their drivers? Sean¿s car is painted like Jimmie Johnson¿s. I don¿t want to know what that means.¿
While Shelnutt claims the mauve and green car is ¿raspberry metallic,¿ it tends to be seen as ¿watermelon,¿ ¿strawberry¿ or simply ¿pink¿ in the grandstands.
¿Call it what you want,¿ Shelnutt said. ¿If they¿re talking about what color my car is, I must be running good enough that they noticed me.¿
MOVIN¿ ON UP: L.J. Cover had only spent five weeks in the Semi-Pro division this summer, but he knew one thing - this was not the division for him. He hadn¿t left the race track with his car intact too many times, spending countless hours - and dollars - repairing the damage from Thursday nights. So with only one win and three DNFs, Cover decided to move up to the Pro division.
His competitors questioned the move, expecting Cover to flounder among the experienced drivers in the Pro division. Instead, Cover finished second in his first race with the new division last week.
¿We spent more money tearing up cars than winning in Semi-Pro,¿ Cover said. ¿I figure I was going to move up next year anyway and race in Pro, so I might as well get the experience and run with them now.¿
And as dad Joe Cover said before the first race, they weren¿t expecting to run up front.
¿We can run last in Pro and not have to weld the car back together every night,¿ Joe said. ¿Plus, you run with fast people and you¿ll get faster.¿