When you look at a map and see Volusia Speedway Park, many will point to Dick Murphy as the man who placed it there.
While the Florida native didn’t build the facility, he helped build its national attention. Whether an asphalt track featuring NASCAR events or a dirt track for the World of Outlaws, praise has been sent from every corner of the racing industry to Murphy for his dedication to grassroots racing and helping grow Volusia Speedway Park into the nationally known World’s Fastest Half Mile.
That praise has echoed louder recently as Murphy passed away on Thursday, May 11.
Along with serving as a previous owner of Volusia, and other tracks, Murphy was also a legendary car owner, having won the World 100 at Eldora Speedway and an NDRA championship, and continued to field a Late Model in weekly racing at Volusia. Murphy was also inducted into several motorsports Hall of Fames.
Through his years of accolades, Murphy made several connections and created unforgettable memories for those who met him.
“Dickie Murphy has been an important part of grassroots racing in Florida for a long time,” said Brian Carter, World Racing Group CEO. “Whether it be as an owner or operator of Volusia Speedway Park and all of its various configurations, via NASCAR or dirt racing, he was an important part, most recently as a car owner. He will be missed as part of the racing community.
“I will personally miss taking every opportunity I got to sit down and have lunch with him as he would give me words of wisdom, even through the years. We appreciate everything he and his family did for racing. Dickie Murphy will be missed.”
Murphy, already established in the motorsports community as a successful car owner, purchased Volusia Speedway Park in 1982. He took it from a dirt track to an asphalt track seven years later. With the change came national attention as the track began hosting NASCAR-sanctioned races, crowning winners like Kenny Wallace and Steve Grissom.
Murphy sold the track in 1992, but it only took five years before he repurchased it and converted it back into a dirt track — reestablishing its national reputation in the dirt racing world.
“He was obsessed with the racetrack,” said Bobby Kay, a childhood friend of Murphy’s, who also worked with him throughout his life. “He was there seven days a week. He was that way all the time I worked with him. He always had to have people around him. He was always thinking of doing this or bettering this. Same with the racing.”
After suffering three strokes, Murphy eventually sold Volusia to World Racing Group in 2005.
During his time as owner at Volusia, Murphy was a mentor to many, including DIRTcar Director Sam Driggers, who worked at the track for several years.
“He was a good guy and had the right things in mind,” Driggers said. “I’ve known him since I was 15 years old, a long time. He treated me really good down there. He always kept an eye on me. It’s a shame to see him go, but I know he had a good life.
“People thought the world of him because he would do anything for you. Anything … I just loved him. He was like my family.”
Murphy’s legacy will be honored at Volusia Speedway Park on Saturday, May 13, during the tracks weekly racing event — which can also be watched live on DIRTVision.