Event Preview: Drivers gearing for Doug Murphrey Memorial

VIVIAN, Louisiana (June 6, 2024) — He was one of the region’s top talents behind the wheel, and every year they pay tribute to his stellar career with a special event. Donnie Powers and his staff are preparing to host the 18th annual Doug Murphrey Memorial this weekend at Ark-La-Tex Speedway. 

While tonight’s practice sessions (Thursday) have been canceled, plans for two full complete shows on Friday and Saturday evening are still on schedule. Headlining this major event are the mighty USRA Modifieds; racing for $3,500 to win on Friday night, and an impressive $5,000 to win on Saturday. 

“Gene Boyter put this thing together with the Murphrey family years ago, and it’s definitely a premier event for us,” Powers said on Thursday. “I’ll admit, our grounds are saturated, but we have a track surface that is good-to-go, and we can get to it. So we’re going ahead with our plans for this weekend. 

CLICK Here To Watch Every Lap LIVE!

“We had good sunshine yesterday, and we’ll have plenty again today. We’ve put the money out there, now let’s see if people show up and go after it. This should be a great event; I’m hoping for lots of cars and a full grandstand. We’re hoping for two nights of exciting racing, and lots of happy race fans.” 

Also on the card this weekend are the USRA Limited Modifieds, USRA Factory Stocks, USRA Tuners, Pro Mods and Sportsters. The Limited and Factory Stock teams will compete for $1,000-to-win each night, adding to the excitement those ground-pounding Modifieds will provide. 

Jeff Hammitt drives the No. 13 Patriot Racing Factory Stock machine and is making his plans to attend. In 2023, he was ‘Mr. Consistency’ with two wins and 22 top-five finishes in 33 starts overall.  

“I was pretty proud of the speed and consistency we showed last year,” Hammitt said via telephone on Thursday morning. “But the start of this year has been a completely different story. One that has been a little hard for me to take, to be honest. I’ve completely rebuilt this car’s suspension looking for a cure.

“When we ran the car last week at Southern Oklahoma, it was the first time on-track since I put all new components underneath it. Man, it’s where it needs to be now. I passed a ton of cars before the motor overheated with five laps to go. We’ve cured that temp issue now, and I’m excited about Ark-La-Tex.” 

Zack Clark has been on the Microphone for over a decade in the Ark-La-Tex region, and spoke about at length Thursday morning about the rich history of this event. 

“Ark-La-Tex Speedway was really on a roll back in the day,” Clark explained. “Gene Boyter was very good at preparing a racing surface, and the Doug Murphrey Memorial was always a huge event. The cool part was that it was never a sanctioned event; just a rich, $10,000-to-win independent show. 

“And some of the top Modified drivers in the country have competed in it; even Terry Phillips has won this thing. His battle down to the wire against Kelly Shryock in 2012 is legendary, you can still find it on YouTube. This event is what put Ark-La-Tex on the National map back in the day. It’s huge.”

Hot Laps for Friday’s night’s program are set to get under way at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it out to Vivian this weekend, you can catch it all Live with a Membership at RaceON.com. With over 400 events set for 2024, it’s home to some of the best racing content available. Click here to order/watch live!

By Phil Whipple, RaceON.com Staff Writer