NICK SCHWIEN â ¢Â Hays Daily News David Murray Jr. helps pack the track before races earlier this season in Hays.
I stood on the wooden platform that doubled as a photo stand for an older woman in Boone, Iowa, during last year's IMCA Super Nationals.
The woman was kind enough to share space on the stand she specifically had built for her own personal use. As I stood there, she also shared a few thoughts on racers from the northwest Kansas region.
One of her favorite drivers, she told me, was David Murray Jr., the modified driver from Oberlin.
What surprised me, though, was she said Murray wasn't one of her favorite drivers from our area, but throughout the United States.
It was a firm reminder of just what Murray means to the sport.
Sure, he lives up to all the expectations that are put on his shoulders, and if you think otherwise, look no further than his record-setting 500-plus feature wins he's snagged in his illustrious career.
But Murray sticks out in the country because of the type of competitor he is. Sure, he could turn up his nose to everyone with a holier-than-thou attitude -- heck, he's earned it.
He's not that way, though. He's won big races, he's won four IMCA national titles and he's won a Super Nationals crown.
Still, he enjoys helping younger drivers when they come calling.
Take the Tubbs brothers, for instance. Jeff and Nick Tubbs learned many things under Murray's tutelage when they used to compete in the modified class years ago. Now, both are phenomenal drivers in the stock car class and a candidate to win every time they hit the track.
"Any question you had, he would answer," said Gerald Tubbs Jr., the father of Jeff and Nick. "Even today, you can go over and ask him anything, and he'll tell you the truth."
Some might not like the way Murray wins all the time. But he's not cheating his way to the front. Instead, its years in the driver's seat and trying just about everything possible that has propelled him to the front.
He's been blessed with a great family and crew, helping him along the way.
When he notched his historic 500th win at Hays, he was the same guy who won races earlier this season at RPM Speedway.
His wife, Nikki, was holding back the tears -- and that shows just how emotional of a ride racing can be.
That monumental win couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy, and more fanfare probably should have been paid to Murray from other racing circles.
But he shrugged it off as just another win, then went out later that weekend and won again at another track.
He's the type of driver than can drive others batty when he bolts his way through the pack to the lead smoother than a piece of silk. When you win a lot, others can get a tad jealous.
Drivers should be thanking Murray for what he's done for the sport of racing, not only in the area, but also the IMCA world. Younger drivers should follow his example of how to handle a car and what lines to drive when they get passed by the champ.
It's a treat for fans to watch him weave through traffic and blast around a pack of cars by riding the high line around corners when you don't think there is any way he can keep the modified on the track.
He does things in that car you wouldn't think are possible, and he's beat some big-name drivers as well.
Murray never will toot his own horn, but he's got driving talent like no other.
It will be a treat to see him hopefully battle with Kenny Schrader and Clint Bowyer, both NASCAR drivers, on Aug. 7 at RPM.
If those guys aren't careful, Murray just might put a whoopin' on them. He's that talented, especially on area tracks.
Maybe that will get him some recognition he deserves.
* NICK SCHWIEN, HDN