The Cold Hard Truth

By Author: Paul Herrold, Date: Apr 26, 2018
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Going from 8 Years Old to NASCAR Racer

Back in 2005, there was a little 8-year-old boy who would watch NASCAR every Sunday with his father. They would sit on the couch, just the two of them, and watch the fun, the drama and the excitement of 43 racecars driving around an oval at speeds of 200mph – just inches from each other – all for the glory to be the first across the finish line.  NASCAR became their thing.  One Sunday, however, for no particular reason, the boy’s father had a thought, and that one thought would set his son on a life-long journey to follow in the footsteps of great men like Dale Earnhardt, Benny Parsons and Richard Petty.  “Hey,” his father said, “Let’s go take a look at Go-Karts!” And at that, a new racecar driver was born.

The 8-year-old could hardly contain his excitement as the thought of Go-Karts, helmets and checkered flags were almost too much to comprehend.  They went down to the local track and, as they walked through the pits, his father noticed something that he didn’t like at all: parents yelling at their racer kids.  And not the type of yelling to encourage little Johnny along; no, what he heard were parents demeaning and insulting their own kids.  The boy’s father wasn’t going to be any part of that scene, so together they left.  At a nearby car-show a few months later though, they saw a half-scale NASCAR car that kids could actually race. With the father taking note of how inexpensive it was, how much safer these cars were compared to karting and, not to mention, no yelling from over-bearing parents – the racing dream was back in gear!  Little did they know, however, the uphill journey and challenges that laid ahead.

Sure, the winning kept on coming, that was the easy part.

It was 2006 when things started coming together.  They had a half-scale race car and a trailer to tow it around, and they were ready to go racing!  The now 9-year-old started off great finishing second place in points in his very first season.  You could say he was now officially hooked on racing – and it showed.  Everything revolved around how to go faster, how to turn better, and how to shave a second off the lap time.  His life became all about racing, but the more things seemed to progress, the more this father and son team struggled on what to do next.  Sure, the winning kept on coming, that was the easy part.  The hard part – and what they didn’t realize – was that with winning came more opportunities to drive bigger and faster vehicles; but those opportunities kept getting more and more expensive.

Thankfully, with support from local sponsors and partners, the boy was able to pursue his racing dreams and continued having success.  At 12 years old in 2009 (no longer “just a boy”), the young man started driving full size 150+mph race trucks – completely unheard of for his age, especially considering he was still 4 years away from being legally allowed to drive across a public street!  Being just 12 years old and driving full-on racing trucks will get you noticed, and unfortunately this is where the ugly side of the racing industry started to reveal itself.

In this business you get to know many people – from mechanics and promoters to spectators and sponsors – and sometimes these people are good and sometimes… let’s just say they’re not.  You think you find someone you can trust to help, only to discover they are stabbing you in the back the entire time to enrich themselves. Seeing the desperate need of more financial backing, a close friend and fellow racer stepped in to split the season’s costs with them which helped fund the racing and, most importantly, provided a new race truck through a so-called “middle man.”  Well, as it turns out, this middle man was a con-artist who never delivered on what was purchased.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, a motor was stolen along with the trailer, truck parts and everything that came with the truck. Talk about a middle man deal gone horribly wrong!

It is expensive to race – like REALLY expensive.

With the mistakes behind them and people they thought they could trust now gone, the father and son team moved on, wiser and stronger.  The year is now 2010 and the young man is realizing that not only is he winning races, but he truly has a knack for this.  Gone are the mere hobbyist days; this has now turned into his career.  Unfortunately, though, this is where he began to learn a cold hard truth: it is expensive to race – like REALLY expensive, and finding sponsors is very difficult.  For the young man, it seemed no one wanted to sponsor him. Even the local sponsors from years gone by wouldn’t return any phone calls.  It seemed before when the racing was “just a game,” it was fun to back the little boy; but now that things were serious, the same affluent Chicago suburbanites saw NASCAR as something that “hillbillies” and “rednecks” did, not something worthy of their support.  Despite feeling upset and defeated, the young man vowed to himself that he would continue to race and be a success.

And a very successful racecar driver he was, continuing to win races, but there was one thing continuing to hold him back from hitting the big time: money, or rather, the lack of money.  In the racing industry, cash means better equipment and more opportunities, and without it, you simply don’t move on.  But even having no money could not stop this young man from turning his professional racing dream into a reality.

Compelled to do whatever it takes, the young man drove to North Carolina, home of all the NASCAR race shops, determined to get his foot in the door – any door – even if it took sweeping floors or donating his time to any race shop that would take him in.  Still racing back home from time to time, he continued to knock on doors until the day finally came where one of the race shops gave him the break he so desperately needed – a seat in a real NASCAR race.  But even then there was a catch – he had to buy his own racing tires.  Determined not to fail, he started a Crowd Funding campaign and raised the money needed to cover a few sets of tires.  That day will live in this young man’s mind forever: his very first (and incredibly successful) NASCAR start of 2014.

Unfortunately, it was hardly smooth sailing after that.  Although he made a great impression in the NASCAR world and more driving opportunities appeared, there was always that same one thing keeping him back – money.  Even though the racing teams saw the talent and drive in this young man, it was always the lack of funds that stood in the way of achieving his goals.  But the story does not end here.  To this day, despite working in race shops 16 hours a day, driving himself to the race events and even sleeping in his own car, this young man has made a total of 15 starts between NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and also drives his very own Monster Jam truck touring the country and the world.  Additionally, to tap into all forms of auto racing, he is a full-time driving coach and is currently a TV co-host on Fox Sports 1 as well.   All this because they told him he couldn’t make it.  All this because they told him he didn’t have what it takes.  All this because they told him money was the only way – now, does money still stand in the way of accomplishing your racing goals? Yes it can, but in that journey you never know who you are going to meet along the way.  You might just meet someone that wants you to succeed just as much as yourself – so let them in and enjoy the ride – you won’t regret it! Okay, enough with all this chit-chat, Camden Murphy has a lifelong goal to achieve and nothing is going to get in his way – has anyone seen his helmet?

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