Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Exclusive

DI 30 Under 30 2022: Kelley Murphy

Rick Belden photo

Kelley Murphy is the prime example of the generational nature of drag racing. Murphy’s father, Tim, raced with veterans Mark Ingersoll and Steve Schmidt in the 1990s, so the younger Murphy has been around Pro Stock for most of his life. Today, he drives the hauler for the JEGS-branded Chevrolet Camaro wheeled by Troy Coughlin Jr. and handles the back-half and transmissions for what the Elite Motorsports team affectionately refers to as “the yellow car.”

Murphy works alongside Elite Motorsports crew chief Ingersoll, who also grew up in the sport. World champion driver and innovator Buddy Ingersoll was his father.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #179, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2022.]

“Mark is one-of-a-kind,” says Murphy. “His passion level matches mine, and I’ll be honest – sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. Every once in a while, there’s some head-butting because we’re around each other all the time. But most of the time, I shut up and listen so I can learn something. He worked with my dad, so it’s cooler than cool how everything has come full-circle. Mark is the man.”

Murphy certainly wasn’t handed his position because of who he knew. He attended tech school at UNOH, and the school sponsored the Dodge entries driven by Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders in 2016.

“[The team] was looking for help, and I kept pushing and pushing,” says Murphy. “So they brought me out at Indy in 2016, and I ran the last five or six races with them. I got to do some part-time stuff with Alex Laughlin in 2017, then in 2018 I moved over to the JEGS car. The rest is history.”

So far, one of his most treasured moments has been winning with Troy Coughlin Jr. The team claimed their first and second wins in 2022.

“We really struggled for about the first year and a half with this car, but we finally broke through in Seattle, and it was unbelievable,” Murphy says. “We’d been trying for so long, and it finally happened. We were happy, for sure.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

As one would expect, Murphy is also a racer.

“I race my dad’s car when we have time – which isn’t very often, but when we can do it, it’s great,” he says, referencing the ’69 Shelby clone that’s outfitted with a small-block Ford and 5-speed Lenco transmission, similar to a nostalgia Pro Stocker.

“I’d like to drive Pro Stock at some point, for sure. Even if it’s just a one-and-done deal, that would be good enough. But long term, if Mark will teach me something, I’d like to eventually be a crew chief. We’ll see, but I’m in it for the long haul.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You May Also Like

News

Tony Christian, one of the pioneering drivers of the Pro Street movement, passed away Thursday, June 9. Christian was infamous for his battles with...

News

The Mid-West Drag Racing Series (MWDRS) is saddened over the passing of Pro Mod driver Ronnie Hobbs following an on-track incident during Friday night...

Exclusive

Leah Pruett scored the first NHRA Top Fuel win for her and husband Tony Stewart’s professional drag racing team this past weekend in Denver,...

News

Drag racer Sean Serra has passed away in a tragic car accident. He was 27 years old. Serra was involved in a single-car rollover...

Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.