May 16, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Before I even started kindergarten, my family lived in Liverpool on Salina Street in an upstairs apartment rented by Mary Landers and squeezed between two thriving businesses, Steve’s tavern to the north and Irish Jack Murphy’s auto repair shop to the south.
Jack was a master mechanic, but I knew, even as a 5-year-old, that he was much more than that. Jack was a champion race-car driver!
On May 2 at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Jack crossed his final finish line. He was 85 years old.
Six Laps for Jack
Whether he was steering modifieds or supermodifieds, Jack’s cars were easy to spot. They were painted green and white and decorated with a shamrock on both sides. He always ran the number 6.
I remember him endlessly tuning up his iconic Shamrock 6 at his two-bay garage there on Salina Street. He must’ve turned that wrench the right way because he won the inaugural International Classic at Oswego Speedway in 1957. At the time, Jack was already a star in the Port City where he had excelled ever since it opened as a dirt track in 1951.
As a tribute to Murphy’s life and legacy, Oswego Speedway added “6-Laps for Jack” to its May 4 ‘Steel Palace’ SuperSeries opener, increasing the distance from 50 to 56-laps.
Murphy’s racing career actually began in 1949 when he returned from the service and teamed up with Fred Sass to build a sportsman stock car to compete at Brewerton and Lafayette tracks. During the 1951 and ’52 racing seasons Jack dominated on the dirt in Oswego, and in 1952 he captured the track points’ title.
Throughout the 1950s Shamrock 6 was a fixture at Brewerton, Canandaigua, Dryden, Oswego and the Monroe County Fairgrounds racetracks. Jack was proud of setting a world’s record for fastest time in Trenton, New Jersey. He took the checkered flag first in the annual New York State Fairgrounds Labor Day Championship in 1959 and then again as a last hurrah in 1970.
After finally retiring from racing, Jack and his wife, Delores, took over the old Steve’s restaurant and turned it into Murphy’s Trackside. Of course, Jack had a special affinity for “tracks,” and the bustling beer joint was located adjacent to the railroad tracks which still run through the village.
In the late-1970s, my dad, Russ Tarby, worked in the kitchen at Murphy’s Trackside. Not only did I enjoy visiting my dad when he flipped burgers there, I also dug the live music that Delores booked, including such aptly named bands as Freewheelin,’ The Mercurys and Reckless Drivin.’
While the bar and grill did well for all concerned, Jack remained an important cog in the area auto-racing community. He served as a pit steward for and later president of the International Supermodified Association even while holding down a day job as a heavy equipment operator. He also provided methanol for the race cars at Oswego Speedway and wherever ISMA cars were running.
In 2000, Jack was inducted into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Internationally known motorsports writer Norris McDonald summed up Irish Jack Murphy’s life this way: “He was a hard-charger to the core and a wonderful contributor to the sport of supermodified auto racing.”
‘Beneath the surface’
Five teens who live in Liverpool, Amanda Hebblethwaite, Penny Lane, Nicholas Peta, Emily Stott, and Lexi Bruening, have created a fantastic video that won the New York State Library’s 2013 Teen Video Challenge. Chosen from three dozen entries from across the state, the winning clip, “Alice in the Maximum Potter Games,” vividly reminds teenagers that reading fiction can be fun.
Fueled by a ghostly guitar-driven rock’n’roll soundtrack, the hyperkinetic video depicts four girls who individually choose books from the library shelves: “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games,” “Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment” and “Alice in Wonderland.” As the girls read their books, they’re magically transported into the plots.
To view the video, visit summerreadingnys.org/teens/teen-video-challenge-winners-2013/.
Submitted by Liverpool Public Library, The winning video was chosen for its creative and interpretation of this year’s theme, “Beneath the surface.” An awards ceremony is set for 4 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Liverpool Public Library’s Carman Community Room at 310 Tulip St. Liverpool; lpl.org; 457-0310.