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Local race car drivers attend Paula Murphy tribute at Petersen Automotive Museum

Local race car drivers attend Paul Murphy Tribute at Peterson Automotive Museum

LOS ANGELES, Calif.-Racing Legend Paula Murphy, 94, reflected on her career during a tribute at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

After the screening of "Paula Murphy: Undaunted" she took part in a panel discussion.

When asked what kind of car she would like to race again, she quickly said "Porsche."

The tribute took place on a floor full of Porches including one used in the movie Top Gun: Maverick.

The documentary is part of the "Left Behind" series on Fox Sports 1 that has focused on amazing women.

Fans of Murphy said she is truly undaunted. She was the first women to drive a jet dragster, she set a number of land speed records at Bonneville, and she set a record at Talladega Superspeedway.

She soon became known as the "World's Fastest Women Driver" during her 15-year racing career.

She credits that late Montecito resident Andy Granatelli for putting her in the driver's seat at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and on the track at the Indy 500 where she was the first women to take a test drive on the track in 1963.

Thanks to Granatelli she also became known as "Miss STP."

"Well, it is just something I just kind of fell into, it isn't something I desired or thought about doing until I got to be about 30 and went to work in an aerospace company, " said Murphy, " I met a man who raced sports cars and he said, 'You should drive my car in the ladies race.'

She was reluctant at first but said people talked her into it.

"One thing led to another, I had a lot of opportunities."

Murphy didn't let a broken leg keep her away from the special event celebrating her career.

She fell and broke her femur on Friday, and had surgery on Saturday.

She arrived at the museum in a wheelchair and one her doctor's was in attendance.

Murphy didn't want to miss the opportunity to see her longtime racing friends and family.

"All the people, like everyone that is here, I owe a lot to them, they came to see me and they wrote stories about me, I have great friends."

Drivers from Santa Barbara County came to the tribute, including the Hammonds.

Tanis Hammond of Goleta was the first women to exceed 300 miles per hour at Bonneville.

Hammond arrived with her race car drive husband Seth and stunt driver daughter Tegan who was the first stunt driver for Ferrari.

"It is amazing to have so many accomplished women here that raced and were my heroes for so many years, Paula Murphy, it doesn't get any better than that," said Hammond.

Overhaulin' star and automobile designer Chip Foose of Santa Barbara said it was like a reunion.

"Seth and Tanis and Tegan are all great friends, they told me about the event and I thought I would love to go, no only to spend the evening, but I am a history buff and I love everything about cars, so this is history, it is cars."

Former Camarillo resident Louise Ann Noeth, known as "Landspeed Louise" took part in the panel and shared stories about riding with Murphy on a return trip to the Indianapolis Raceway.

"As far as I am concerned, Paula Murphy, she is the pioneer that allowed other women to put on helmets all over the world because she blazed the trail in so many different aspects in motor sports," said Landspeed Louise, " I would say I take my helmet off to Paula because she helped other women put them on."

Landspeed Louise turned it into a birthday party, too.

Since Murphy turns 95 on June 16, 2023, she led everyone in a round of Happy Birthday.

Proceeds from the tribute and silent auction benefit Women in Motorsports North America.

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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