|Interview With a Champion:
Andrew Murray, AHRMA 2004
1st Place Battle of the Twins F2
2nd Place Vintage Superbike Middleweight
3rd Place Battle of the Twins F1
|Andrew Murray of Woodbury, Connecticut just ended the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Assn.) season with the national #1 plate in Battle of the Twins (BOTT) Middleweight F2, and the #3 plate in BOTT Heavyweight F1. He earned these distinctions mostly by riding the Guzzi Sport 1100 that was built, maintained, and managed by Stan Friduss of Stanís BMW and Guzzi in Gainesville, Florida. Whatís even more amazing, though is his #2 place in Vintage Superbike Middleweight on a mostly stock Lemans III. I recently had a chance to speak with Andrew about his spectacular year racing Moto Guzzis.
Ed Milich: So the majority of the points that you earned in the F1 and F2 races was on Stanís Sport 1100?
Andrew Murray: Yeah. I also ran my old Guzzi, a Lemans III in some of the F1 and F2 races.
EM: Iím familiar with Stanís Sport1100. So what can you tell me about your other bikes?
AM: The Lemans III is just a great bike. I raced that for a long time- 5 seasons at least. Itís got to be about 95% stock. The wheels, forks, handlebars, frame, tank, seat, and everything in the engine-cam, carbs, timing chain, pistons, con rods, etc. are all stock. The only changes were a light aftermarket clutch, rear sets, racing valve springs, a boxed [braced] swingarm, Dyna Ignition and a 2 into 1 pipe. Transmission is stock. Gearing is stock. I put new cartridges in the forks, and thatís it. No cam, no porting, no timing gears, no crank, no rods. The bike is amazing. I canít say enough about that bike. I bought it as a basket case for $600. A guy had run it out of oil and the crank seized on the rear main bearing. There was aluminum stuck on the crank, which I scraped off with a razor blade. I put new bearings and rings in it and that was like 12 years ago. Itís never been apart since then. Iím using 18Ē Dunlop race tires that they use in Europe a lot, available through Barker in Florida. Those tires are awesome. Theyíre only about $110 a piece. I used to run Avon 18Ē. Which I thought were great, but they get old and thenÖ. The Dunlops are always right there. I canít recommend those enough.
EM: And some of the F2 races were on the Lemans III as well?
AM: I think it was just the Pennsylvania races that I had the Lemans out. And I had the Raceco bike [formerly built and owned by RACECO U.S.íS Manfred Hecht] out at Mid Ohio. That was the first time I raced it.
EM: The last I saw, that bike belonged to Chris Deminco. I think it was also spotted at Mid Ohio swap meet a few years back with a $5000 price tag on it. Howís that bike now?
AM: Yeah, I bought it a while back. Itís great. It handles great, and Iíve been pushing it really hard. It feels like a modern bike. Itís not as strong as Stanís bike, though. The ring gear blew up in Alabama and took out the engine and tranny cases, so itís out of commission right now. Stanís took it back to Florida and heís working on it right now. I like riding Stanís bike better, though. Itís long and low and runs strong.
EM: Any memories from last season that stick in your mind?
AM: Itís just exciting to be riding the new bike and going to new tracks. I went to Louisiana, and some other places that I donít normally get to. A couple times, I just flew in with my helmet and leathers and raced. I also got to travel and hang out with my Brothers and my family, which was great.
EM: I think you torched a crankshaft at Beaver Run [after the bike went down and stayed running on its side]. Any other mechanical failures this year?
AM: Well, beside the crankshaft and the Raceco bikesís ring gear, I had a rear tire go flat at top speed at Grattan. Everything came out fine, but that was kind of interesting. Other than that, everything held up well.
EM: Any big rivalries on the track this year?
AM: Not really. Jeff Hinds was a great competitor. He went all over the place to race. He crashed a couple of time, got hurt, but came back. He worked really hard and deserved the championship and heís a real nice guy. Jan Svenson worked really hard in F2 and overcame mechanical problemsÖitís a tough row to hoe with these championships because of the travel all over the country, but he worked really hard. We had some really close races, and he beat me a number of times. He was a great competitor.
EM: So what are the goals for this year. Are you going to chase championships again?
AM: Iím just taking it one race at a time. Weíll see what Stan wants to do. I pushed hard last season and was a little burnt out, but now itís winter time and weíre not riding and Iím thinking about racing, soÖ you never know whatíll happen.
EM: Any significant crashes or injuries this season?
AM: I crashed my Triumph in cold, freezing practice in Florida in the beginning of the season. That was pretty hilarious. Stanís bike stayed up most of the time.
EM: So are you stuck on vintage racing, or are you interested in getting into more modern .
AM: I love the old stuff- Triumphs, NortonsÖI race a sidecar, too. The Raceco Guzzi is a much more modern design compared to the old stuff. Thatís modern and fast enough for me.
EM: So whatís your day job?
AM: My brother and I own a business called Murray Brothers garage in Woodbury Connecticut, a little colonial town. We have 12 people who work there- itís pretty busy. We have a great crew and a great time and we fix cars. It allows me to have to be able to travel and to race. Racing is my big excuse for traveling and racing and seeing the country. My wifeís into it. We have an Airstream trailer that we haul around. For the past few years, weíve gone away for 6 weeks at a time to travel and race. We make a real vacation out of it. We usually hit the races that my brother Craig Murray organizes in New Mexico either at the beginning or the end of the season.
EM: So how was the event that Moto Guzzi North America put together for you down at the Barber Motorsports track?
AM: It was great. They had a tent and a band and food and a bunch of people rode down and camped. Josef rode Stanís bike that weekend, and there was also the Airhead BMW races that weekend. I got to race Frank Shockley on my Triumph and he was really fast and a really good rider.
EM: Any tips for people who might be interested in racing a vintage bike like a Lemans III?
AM: Donít worry about tricking your bike out with exotic stuff. Do some track days. Take your time with improving your riding skills and the bike. A lot of people have these bikes laying around, and you can definitely have some fun with them.
EM: So what was it like working with Stan for the past year?
AM: Heís a legend! Heís been racing at Daytona since they raced on the beach! It was a real pleasure to work with him. He has the enthusiasm of a 16 year old when he gets around those bikes.
EM: So is there anything youíd like to add as we end this interview?
AM: I want to thank Stan and my wife for letting me do this. I want to encourage other people top get out there and raceÖI mean, my Lemans III is a great bike and itís basically stock. You can get out there and ride whatever pace you want. The vintage bikes are plenty fast and with todayís tires, you can go fast and drag your knee all day long. 50 horsepower is plenty on a tight track or any track for that matter.
If you havenít seen it already, stop by the pits and see Stanís Sport1100 at the next AHRMA event in your area. Stanís racer is quite the reflection of his ďold schoolĒ approach to race bike building. Among other things, Stan bored the engine case and reinstalled a distributor so that he can more easily manipulate timing. Rumor has it that heís also having a magneto ignition wound (!), presumably so that he doesnít have to use a battery. Congratulations again to Stan Friduss, Andrew Murray and teammate Josef Brenner for their successful year of racing in the United States.