In this edition of the Humans of NASCAR, I interview Camden Murphy. Hailing from Itasca, Illinois, Murphy has competed for small teams in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Despite a lack of funding, Murphy has continued to obtain rides regularly in the Truck Series. Murphy also drives the Pirate’s Curse in Monster Jam, and won rookie of the year in 2017.
This interview took place on Thursday, June 28th at Chicagoland Speedway.
How was your trip to Chicagoland?
My trip here was very short! It’s about 40 minutes, depending on traffic. It’s awesome to be this close to home, and be able to sleep in my own bed. I didn’t have a whole lot of distance to travel!
How did you get into NASCAR?
I started racing when I was about 10 years old, in 2006. I had a love for racing. I really enjoyed watching NASCAR, and always loved watching Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and all the rest of the guys. One day my dad and I went to the World of Wheels car show in downtown Chicago and saw these Mini Cup cars there, and we were sold. So we got one of those, started racing, and I was fortunate enough to have enough success along the way to continue to move up the ladder.
What are you most looking forward to this weekend?
This is my hometown track, so I’m looking forward to having my hometown crowd here, and being able to have some friends and family out here this weekend in the stands, and just to have a great time here. I grew watching races here, and now I’m here actually racing.
Who’s your favorite driver?
I look up to Carl Edwards. I know he’s retired now, but I really look up to him. One of the main reasons why is because he’s the best when it comes to interacting with the fans and the media. He looks you directly in the eye, he always takes his sunglasses off, and he always has a personality when he talks. I find a lot of the new drivers that are coming in don’t have a personality. They don’t have the best personality for the new companies and sponsors coming in. You have to have that personality, and Carl Edwards was the best brand ambassador for any company out there, not to mention that he was a good race car driver too. I don’t necessarily have [a favorite active driver].
If you could have anybody as your teammate, who would it be? They don’t have to be a driver.
That’s a tough question! I don’t know if I can answer that. I’d love to have a bunch of fans ride with me. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so if I could just take a fan along for a ride and build a team together, I think that would be interesting. If I had to pick a driver, I don’t know what to tell you. If I could bring Carl Edwards out of retirement I would!
Tell me something unique about yourself that’s not related to NASCAR
My life is based around racing. I eat, sleep, breathe it. I live out of my car, I drive to all the races. This is my life. A lot of people might not know that I’m really heavily tied with the Ronald McDonald House charities. I’ve been with them since Christmas morning 2012 and have been donating my time with them. I’ve been trying to carry them through every form of motorsports that I’ve been involved with in the last twelve years of racing. I’ve donated my time in multiple cities. This year I was fortunate enough to visit a bunch of different Ronald McDonald houses all across the west coast with Monster Jam. A lot of people might not know that I do both Monster Jam and NASCAR. I’m the only one out there that does that, and that’s pretty cool.
What’s the most emotional you’ve been while watching or competing in a race?
Another tough one! I can’t say this is the most emotional, but one of them had to have been in 2014, when I made my first NASCAR start. I always set that goal, which was always to be there during the national anthem, next to a truck that I’m racing in front of all these NASCAR fans on TV. There’s that moment when they’re singing the national anthem, and the time when they say “driver’s, start your engines.” That’s a time that becomes very emotional for me, because it’s a goal that I set for myself, that I’m now achieving. I’m doing this for a living now! This is my job, and something I never thought would happen, but I set it as a goal, and I tried to make it happen.
If you could change one thing in NASCAR, what would you change?
How much it costs! There’s a lot of drivers out there that can’t get the opportunity that they deserve because they can’t afford it. It costs way too much. It’s not like football, baseball, soccer, or any of those sports where the best of the best get chosen. It’s not like that anymore. It really comes down to how big your checkbook is, and how much money you can bring. Unfortunately, that’s where I’m at right now. I can’t get these other opportunities because I don’t have the funding. If we could change that and make it how it was back in the day, I’d love to do it.
What do you want your signature “thing” to be as you grow your racing career?
I’d really have to think about that. I’d like for the fans to know my story. Where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, and how I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome thus far in your racing career?
Being able to do this every week, and get paid to do it. Being able to get phone calls from race teams every week to drive for them, and to be able to make a living doing it. I’m very fortunate be able to have that happening.
What’s your pre-race jam?
Honestly, I don’t have one. I just try to get in the zone. My pre-race ritual, rather, would be to put everything on a certain way, I give my crew members knuckles before I get in the truck, and then I go from there.
What’s the most awkward conversation you’ve had with another driver?
There was a conversation I had with another driver where we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye at a race in 2015, at Madison International Speedway. I’m not going to get into details, but there were no choice words or anything. It was just a conversation, and we just didn’t see eye-to-eye on a certain situation, let’s just say that.
Is there anything else you want to tell fans who read this?
Thank you. If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. I say it every single time, whether it’s a Monster Jam show, and every single time I get a microphone in front of me here in NASCAR, whenever I’m lucky enough to get that opportunity. It’s so amazing to see the support that I, a little guy, has. I’m nobody, and to have people supporting me, following me on social media, asking me how I’m doing, and asking me for my autograph when I’m out in public. I never expected people to recognize me, so thank you to the fans.