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Elite Motorsports’ Kelley Murphy Fulfills Lifelong Dream

Kelley Murphy, who works on the / White Castle car of Troy Coughlin Jr. for Elite Motorsports, will be fulfilling a 28-year dream when he makes his Pro Stock debut at the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway March 8-10.

Murphy, whose father Tim worked with Pro Stock legends Steve Schmidt and Mark Ingersoll in the 90s, finished his Pro Stock licensing process on Wednesday, February 21st with two full passes of 6.64 seconds at 188 mph and 6.63 at 190 at Tulsa Raceway Park.

“Rolling up there on Friday for the first time I’m definitely going to be excited. Probably going to be nervous as can be,” said Murphy who will have Mark Ingersoll and Tim Freeman tuning his car with Matt Hasara on the engine and Steven Hurley on the clutch. “I know that as long as I do what I did in Tulsa, I’ll be fine. Just need to take a breath and just do what we know how to do. There are a lot of people who would love to get the chance to do this, professionally race, and I have the opportunity. There are going to be a lot of eyeballs on us, its’ the season opener.”

Murphy, a native of Indiana, has been around drag racing all his life with the U.S. Nationals, NHRA’s biggest race of the year, in his back yard, but he didn’t step into the driver’s seat until 2020. Murphy first drove his father’s 5-speed bracket car and then a retired 2006 Pro Stock Car and the well-known burnout car, “The Buggie”, from the Cuadra family before starting his licensing process late in 2023.

“It’s been an awesome experience. I’ve wanted to do this my whole life,” said Murphy who will be driving the Jim Butner Auto/Industrial Rubber Technologies/JEGS Pro Stock entry. “It all started with a conversation at World Series of Pro Mod last year. It got real when Richard Freeman gave me a number to rent the car that I knew I could manage. I’ve gotten a handful of passes under my belt and with the teachers I have in the Elite Motorsports camp, I’m ready to go.”

In addition to Bo and Randi Lyn Butner of Jim Butner Auto, Nick & Tammy White with Industrial Rubber Technologies and Jeg Coughlin Jr. with JEGS, Murphy’s dream of licensing and driving in a national event has also been backed by numerous friends and family.

“I really couldn’t have made this happen without the crazy amount of support I’ve received. The list is long but these people and companies are important to me: Joe Nott at Raabe Ford, Chris Avaritt with Cross Threaded Customs, Mike Morehead and his family with Lift Truck Service Center, Mike Harrell with Mike’s Fab Shop, Craig Sullivan at Sullivan’s Equipment Inc., Dane Ward and his family with Hatfield Lumber, Scott and Jennifer Woodruff with Benmit, Adam Lambert with PRS and Rick and Rickie Jones with Quarter Max and RJ Race Cars,” Murphy said. “And then there are what I’ll call silent investors who don’t have a sticker on the car but helped make this possible: Vincent Nobile, Erica Enders, Mark Ingersoll, Tim Freeman, Kyle Bates, Chase Freeman, and Michael Brotherton. I hope I don’t embarrass them out there, I know we’re going to have some fun.”

The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway will begin with four rounds of qualifying Friday at 2 and 4:30 p.m., and Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. with eliminations for the Pro Stock category beginning Sunday at 11:30 a.m. 

This story was originally published on March 1, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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