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“Running Wild” with Brendan Murry’s AA/Fueler

Vintage racing is where it’s at for this SoCal racer.

By Dale Wilson

rendan Murry lives in the past and loves it. He races a front-engine fuel dragster, for one. Its method of power is not the venerable Chrysler hemi but a 400 cubic-inch big-block Chevy --- a Donovan type, for those of you who came in late.

He races with a single MSD magneto, a “slow” fuel pump that delivers 20 pounds, and his 200-inch Stirling dragster is shod with 12-inch slicks. It’s so far a cry from today’s multi-magged, 16-sparkplug, computer-everything-driven Top Fuelers as to be almost a distant cousin.

Nevertheless, Murry, of San Jose, California, a racing parts dealer and seller, and restorer of muscle cars and street rods who is partnered with girlfriend Karen Oie in the business (Performance Motorsports / has gone a best of 5.87 at 243 mph in Goodguys and nostalgia fuel racing circuits from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Bowling Green. Murry claims his “Running Wild” FED is the fastest and quickest big-block Chevy ever. Four-hundred inches and a 200-inch-long dragster equals 5.80s! Unreal!

At the most recent NHRA Hot Rod Reunion, held this past June at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Kentucky, Murry beat the No. 1 favorite in AA/Fuel Dragster, Jack “the Sheriff” Harris of Kaysville, Utah, and lost in the final to Sean Bellemeur of Camarillo, California, only after suffering mechanical problems at half-track. It was Sean’s second consecutive win in two outings at the Reunion at Bowling Green. Murry says just you wait until the 2006 east-coast Hot Rod Reunion. “I’m gonna win,” he says.

It’s the way these fuel-fired FEDs look that gets Murry’s motor running.

“I like them for their visual appeal, plus we get to race a fast car. We’ll race 15 or 16 times this year, so there’s plenty of racing for us. We get to travel. The people are really great. I tell people this a lot: If I needed a kidney, I’d be better off going to the racers and ask to borrow one for a week than ask somebody in my family. These people will give you everything. It’s a big family. We’re all related in a perverse sort of way,” he says.

In 1968 or ’69, Murry, now 44, went to the AHRA World Finals at Fremont. He was eight or nine years old at the time. His next door neighbor took him, and he remembered that forever. “It was a good 10 years before I went to a race again, and when I went again, I was there every week. There were front-engine dragsters all over at that AHRA race, even then. It was a big deal.” A hook was set.

Murry has been vintage racing since the early 1980s, and to him, it had more of a visual appeal than with the late-model cars. His options at the time, he says, were bracket racing and Super Comp, not exactly appealing to a young “old head,” so a front-engine dragster it had to be. He soon had one. “Actually, I had the last car to go down the old Fremont Drag Strip. It was a 196-inch Shoemaker front-engine dragster with a blown big-block Chevy, in 1988. It was a Wednesday night, after Fremont’s last race,” Murry says.


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