Two minutes with: Greg Murphy

by Listener Archive / 10 November, 2012
Known on both sides of the Tasman as “Murph”, the motorsport veteran is fronting the MTA’s “Hands Off the WoF” campaign.
Motorsport veteran Greg Murphy

You’ve got a bit of flak over the MTA campaign. Does that bother you?
It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m trying to save people’s lives. People don’t have to agree, but people are so lazy and they don’t want to look at the information available. Of the 25,000 people who have gone online to have their say, 65% say “Leave it alone”.

Is it true that you’re doing it for free?
I’ve got a contract with the MTA. I do road safety campaigns and I visit high schools. I’ve visited 16 high schools this year. This campaign came out of the blue. So it’s not part of my agreement with them but it’s something I’m incredibly passionate about. I think it’s quite pathetic that we’re looking at changing something that is potentially going to cost people’s lives. I find that incomprehensible.

That was a pretty spectacular weekend you just had at Pukekohe.
It was fantastic. It was great to be back in New Zealand and at Pukekohe and to be able to be competitive. To be pushed by a couple of cars and put it on the limit and do the best job I can, and succeed from doing that, feels great.

It’s been a while since you’ve tasted victory.
At the moment I’m not having any fun in Australia. It really is quite demoralising, to be honest – to not be in control and not do your job to the best of your ability. We are struggling with the equipment we’ve got and the whole process is just not at the level required.

What attracted you to car racing?
I got attached to it at a very young age with karting. I think it was the competition of it, but also having that control over something. I wasn’t very good at physical sports, but with motorsport you’ve got a piece of machinery that you’ve got to control and you’ve got to try to do that better than everyone else. When you’re able to do that and get a win, it’s a huge thrill.

Isn’t it pretty un-PC these days, from an environmental perspective?
I haven’t heard that. Cars are pretty efficient these days and motorsport is a very small part of the overall motoring world. Comparatively, what we use in our sport versus what’s emitted into the air by industry and all sorts of other things – we’re a very tiny blip on the radar.

How do you handle the amount of risk involved?
There certainly is a risk but it’s not the risk that everyone thinks it is. People need to understand that we have a lot of safety things built into what we do. I’d rather have a crash in any of my race cars that I drive at twice the speed limit than have a crash in any road car at any speed at any time.

How much longer are you planning to be involved in the V8 Supercars series?
At the moment it’s at the forefront of my mind because it’s coming to the end of the year and it’s the silly season and teams are trying to lock away their teams for next year and sponsors and all that. Unfortunately at the moment in Australia I don’t have the power I used to have. We’ve just got to wait and see how it plays out.

If you couldn’t be involved in motorsport, what else would you like to do?
I love aviation. I tried to get into the NZ Air Force a long time ago. I wanted to be a pilot. I love flying. I’ve got my helicopter licence and I love that. I don’t do enough of it at the moment but it’s certainly a relief from everything else I do.

Helping to host Top Gear Live must have been a blast. Did you get up to any mischief with the Top Gear boys?
From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep at night is mischief. Working with them I actually generated a six-pack from laughing so hard. As soon as they were gone it disappeared again. It was even more fun than it looks.

What’s your favourite stretch of road?
That’s difficult to answer because I love driving in New Zealand. It’s not like driving in Australia, which is so boring and mind-numbing because the roads are so straight. One of my favourites is the Napier-Taupo road. I used to travel across there a lot. I also love the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown. Once you’re inland of Christchurch and [on] those roads through Tekapo, it’s spectacular and changes so much.
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