Mike Murphy
Driver
Class of 2010

     

             If someone ever was the perfect image of a Saturday night stock car driver, it was Mike Murphy.  The Woburn, Mass., resident was ruggedly handsome, tough, competitive, self-assured, and very fast.

            The “Flying School Teacher” was on the gas from lap one in Joe Edwards’ gloriously pink #28 coupe in 1959.  Forty years later, when he hung up his NASCAR championship helmet, Murphy had over 100 features and eight championships.

            Mike’s races were largely in cars self-sponsored and self-maintained.  Certainly, he was aggressive on the track.  But more fundamentally, his success came from a cognitive approach to racing.  He spent hours of quiet time in his garage, often just looking at his car, thinking of setups.

            Weaving throughout Mike’s racing life was his family.  His wife Julie was always there, and so were the three boys, Steve, Paul, and Doug.  The cars were #M3.  Murphy 3, maybe; Modified 3, maybe; My 3 Sons, definitely.

            The family fielded cutdowns, home-style modifieds, Richie Evans modifieds, and Fred Rosner prostocks at the local quarter-miles. It was Hudson Speedway, though, where Teacher Mike really took everyone to class.  Likely the winningest driver in Hudson’s history, the crowning achievement came in 1985 when   he swept 22 consecutive mains.

            Mike took occasional rides with other owners.  Among them were Walter Burns’ super, a backup modified for Marvin Rifchin and Ronnie Bouchard, and Paul Stone’s late model.

            But the soul of Mike Murphy was that orange #M3, towed up Rt. 95 every weekend to southern New Hampshire behind that familiar white motorhome, Julie and boys on board.  It became a kind of a tradition, so emblematic of the best of old-time New England racing.

            When Mike died two years ago from cancer, so many racers and former students poured into Woburn for the viewing that the line lasted for hours and hours.


Photo From The Val LeSieur Archives