Paula Murphy Obituary, Remembering the "Fastest Woman on Wheels"

Paula Murphy Obituary, Remembering the “Fastest Woman on Wheels”

Early Life and Racing Passion

Paula Murphy, the trailblazing female race car driver renowned as “The Fastest Woman on Wheels,” passed away at the age of 95. Her extraordinary journey in motorsports left an indelible mark on the racing community.

A Remarkable Start

Starting as a secretary at Marquardt, an aerospace engineering firm, Murphy’s racing journey began after attending the 1956 Santa Barbara Memorial Day Race. She joined the Women’s Sports Car Club, an organization promoting women’s involvement in racing.

Land Speed Record and “Miss STP”

In 1963, Murphy set a women’s land speed record of 161 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats with the support of STP executive Andy Granatelli, earning her the moniker “Miss STP.” This marked the beginning of her record-breaking career.

Breaking Barriers in NHRA

In 1966, Paula Murphy achieved a groundbreaking milestone, becoming the first woman licensed by the NHRA to compete in any nitro class. She fearlessly competed in Funny Car competitions alongside male counterparts, breaking gender barriers in motorsports.

Triumphs at Indianapolis and NASCAR

Murphy continued to make history, becoming the first woman to drive at high speeds alone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1963. In 1971, she broke the NASCAR women’s closed-course record at Talladega Superspeedway driving Fred Lorenzen’s STP Dodge, later surpassing her record in Richard Petty’s car.

Speed, Injuries, and Resilience

In 1968, Murphy broke the 200 MPH barrier and achieved speeds exceeding 250 MPH in drag racing. Despite a crash at Sonoma Raceway resulting in serious injuries, including a broken neck, she remarkably returned to racing.

Legacy and Recognition

Murphy’s achievements led to her induction into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2017. Her life and career were recently chronicled in the documentary “Paula Murphy: Undaunted,” which premiered on FS1 earlier this year.

Farewell to a Racing Legend

Paula Murphy’s racing legacy transcends gender boundaries, inspiring generations of racers. As we bid farewell to “The Fastest Woman on Wheels,” her impact on motorsports will forever be etched in history.

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