Paula Murphy Obituary, Death – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHRA), Paula Murphy, a pioneering female race car driver who received the nickname “The Fastest Woman on Wheels” for her accomplishments across the world of motorsports, passed away on Thursday. Her age was 95.
After attending the 1956 Santa Barbara Memorial Day Race, Murphy, who had previously worked as a secretary at Marquardt, an aerospace engineering firm located in North Hollywood, California, developed an interest in racing. Subsequently, she joined the Women’s Sports Car Club, an organization that encouraged women to participate in administrative tasks associated with racing.
Beginning in 1956, Murphy began her career as a race car driver by competing in ladies’ races. Beginning in 1963, she began racing on a full-time basis, and she quickly rose to prominence after she established a record for the women’s land speed at 161 miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Andy Granatelli, an executive at STP, was the one who supported Murphy’s racing endeavors and gave her the title of “Miss STP.”
This provided Murphy with the support she needed to achieve her land speed goal. Murphy would go on to become the first woman in the history of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to ever be granted a license to race in any nitro class. She would compete with men in the Funny Car category. In addition, she would achieve a number of firsts that were noteworthy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as in NASCAR.
Murphy broke the NASCAR women’s closed-course record at Talladega Superspeedway in 1971 when driving Fred Lorenzen’s STP Dodge. In 1963, she was the first woman to drive alone at high speeds at Indianapolis while testing a Novi. In 1971, she also broke the mark for the most laps driven by a woman in a closed-course race. Murphy would return to Talladega five years later, this time driving Richard Petty’s car, and she would shatter her own record at a speed of 172.336 miles per hour; she would break her own record.
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