The Humans of NASCAR: Camden Murphy

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.

The Humans of NASCAR: Brett Moffitt

I’m very excited to announce my new series: The Humans of NASCAR. I’ll be asking drivers the same 13 questions (or variations of them). The goal of this series is to take a look at the drivers behind the race cars you see on track in order to better appreciate the personalities of our sport.

My first victim was Brett Moffitt. Moffitt, who won the Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway last weekend, has faced more than his share of adversity throughout his career. He has overcome it with flying colors, though, and looks to make his way up in the sport.

This interview took place on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at Chicagoland Speedway.

How was your trip to Chicagoland?

It was good. Obviously our race team had a heck of a battle to get here this weekend, sponsorship wise, but once we got that all figured out earlier this week, it was a short flight up here this morning, and I’m ready to get on track.

How did you get into NASCAR?

I started racing go karts when I was a kid, actually as a hobby, because my mom told my dad we needed a hobby together, and I started racing go karts with him. My dad was never really into stick-and-ball sports, so that’s what we started doing, and it just slowly developed, and I had success at all the rankings coming up, and one day we finally figured out a plan that we might be able to make this into a career and into a job. Thankfully it all worked out, and we’re still here.

What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

It’s always fun coming to these mile-and-a-halfs, we’ve been really strong on them. I think we’ve everywhere, but it seems like our mile-and-a-half program’s really good. I’m really just looking forward to getting back to a mile-and-a-half, and we’ve got a new sponsor on board this week, Fr8 Auctions, so it’ll be fun to have them here, and hopefully take them to victory lane for their first time.

Who’s your favorite driver?

Jimmie Johnson, for sure.

Yeah, I’d imagine you grew up in that seven-time era.

I did, I did. When I was really young, I was a big Jeff Gordon fan. I’ve got signed clocks, a letterman-style Jeff Gordon jacket, [one of] the big puffy ones. Then as I got older and matured, I kind of transformed into a Jimmie fan, because of his work ethic, and his dominance. Most people hate when somebody wins all the time, but, as a competitor, even if you don’t like it, I think you have to respect it.

If you could have anybody as your teammate, who would they be? They don’t have to be a driver.

Probably Selena Gomez [laughs]. She’s my celebrity crush. As a driver, though, probably Jimmie, just because I look up to him, and every time I’ve asked for information from him, he’s been very generous and given it to me, even though we’re not teammates. As a teammate, I can only imagine how much he could help.

Tell me something unique about yourself that’s not related to NASCAR.

I love golfing. That’s about it. I like lake surfing, I just like being outdoors.

What’s the most emotional you’ve been while watching/competing in a race?

[In terms of] Watching, I would say watching greatness happen. Whether it be watching Jimmie winning seven championships, or at the end of the year, I’m happy for whoever the champion is in each series, because I know how much work goes into it, and to see a season-long effort pay off is huge, especially with the new format, where you’ve gotta go to Homestead and perform. You can’t just go and start the race and be the champion. I think watching the final races at Homestead is always pretty emotional. As far as driving, winning at Iowa a couple weeks ago, being my home state, and on father’s day weekend was huge. My eighth place finish in Atlanta in the Cup car was right up there with it, just as a breakthrough race.

If you could change one thing in NASCAR, what would you change?

The race lengths. I think the Truck Series has really good racing because it [has] short races, and you’ve gotta go. Some of the Cup races are a little too long. I think you keep the staple races, like the Daytona 500, or Indianapolis, or the Coke 600, but some of the others they could shorten up. I think it would make a little better racing, because you’re not just biding your time, you’ve actually gotta go.

What do you want your signature “thing” to be as you grow your racing career?

I don’t really know if I have a signature thing, [but] I like when people appreciate my work ethic.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome thus far in your racing career?

Oh, there’s been a lot of them. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs for sure, with MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) shutting down. I was under a multiyear contract with them, so that was pretty heartbreaking and left me with no direction to go. It was really tough to find a team after that. I’d made my bed with them, and I was planning on being there a while, so I wasn’t looking for anything else, so that was tough. Red Horse [Racing] shutting down last year was another hard one to get by, because I was finally in a great opportunity in the Truck Series, and thankfully everything has worked out to come here.

What’s your pre-race jam?

I don’t really listen to music pre-race. I do listen to rap, though, if I’m trying to get pumped up. I would say anything rap.

What’s the most awkward conversation you’ve had with another driver?

[Laughs] It’s always awkward when you wreck each other, but in fairness, some of my better friends at the racetrack are those that [I initially got into it with], which is how we even started talking. I wouldn’t say drivers talk a lot, and after you yell at each other, you gain respect for each other.

Is there anything else you want to tell fans who read this?

Keep watching. The Truck Series has great racing, and make sure, whether we’re racing Thursday night or Friday night, to tune in and cheer for the 16 truck.