Revving Up Motorcycle Racing in Paso
Motorcycle racing star Johnny Murphree remembers sliding around the Paso Fairgrounds in his first flat track race long before Paso became a dominant force in the wine and tourism industry. Way back in the 1980s when wine tasting was free, dirt-track racing became a way for Johnny to cope with the loss of his mother and focus his reckless energy on something constructive. With his racing days over and every bone in his body broken at least one, Johnny said that he and his wife Kary Ann felt called to bring back the joy and excitement of racing to the Central Coast with the Fast Times Moto Festival.
Remembering Joey Brown
Races have been held at the event center for the past two years in honor of Joey Brown, dirt-track pioneer, promoter and local shop owner. “A big group of us got together with Brett Butterfield and put a race together. Without much marketing, and just a great group of folks involved, we had a pretty good turn out!” said Johnny. As it grew and they realized the area would support something much bigger, Butterfield, owner of the Ravine Waterpark, turned the reigns over to Johnny.
Without quitting his day job as owner of Murphree Building Inspections, Johnny and his wife, founded the Ride It Out Race Promotions. With fellow motorcycle enthusiast and longtime friend, Greg Taylor they started planning The Fast Times Moto Festival occurring on Saturday and Sunday, September 14-15 at the Paso Robles Event Center located at 2198 Riverside Avenue, Paso Robles. Doors open at noon on Saturday.
Something for Everyone
Johnny stresses that the festival has something for everyone.
“The Bike show starts at noon and there will be plenty to eat and drink, so people can stroll through the bike show, vendor area and swap meet,” explained Johnny.
The two-day event features more than flat track racing. Johnny explained that getting local bike enthusiast to come is easy especially since there is no racing on the Central Coast, but Ride It Out’s goal is to bring the community together.
“We know what it takes to entertain motorcycle fans; good racing and beer,” said Johnny.
Kary Ann, daughter of famed Gary Nixon, 1967 and ’68 AMA Grand National Champion, has taken great strides to draw people unfamiliar with the motorcycle racing world to the event. More than just racing, the festival includes live music, camping, a vendor row with boutique shops, food, and a People’s Choice Motorcycle Show with the help of Dennis Camp. Kary Ann knows her Dad would be proud of them, keeping his love of motorcycles going and sharing that with others.
Racing opportunities for all
First and foremost, wanting the Fast Times Moto Festival to be a community event, the team added expert and novice races to all its classes on Sunday, featuring 22 separate classes for all sizes, ages and skill levels.
On Saturday, practice starts at 4 p.m. with races beginning at 6 p.m. Racing Saturday night will feature a compact show with a $5000 purse Pro Flat Track event with limited amateur, vintage, and kid’s classes. Saturday also features Hooligan racing. Increasing in popularity, Hooligan racing is amateur flat track racing on street bikes that are mostly stock (no racing bikes allowed) and are 750cc or larger engine. Following the competition, live music will play in the infield until everything closes down around 10:30 p.m. Crews will work overnight to create a rough scrambles or “Moto TT” track for Sunday’s races.
The Track opens at 7 a.m. on Sunday with the day hosting a ‘“Run-What-Brung” open traction knobby tire racing on a Moto TT, or rough scrambles course, with roller jumps for tight, fun racing, and a full range of age, size, and skill level classes,’ the website boasts in motocross speak.
Mulder named Grand Marshal
For its first Grand Marshal, the Fast Times Moto Festival chose motorcycle legend, Eddie Mulder. Starting his racing career at the tender age of 8, Eddie went on to win five Grand National championships. Eddie also maintained a prolific career as a motorcycle stunt man performing his feats in over 20 films. He also played the state trooper in the cult classic “Near Dark,” a vampire movie before the undead sparkled. Eddie was one of Gary’s best friends and a long-time mentor for Johnny.
In a phone interview, Eddie sang praises about the Paso community and their involvement in the success of the early races. As a professional promoter, he said that the town gave phenomenal support to the races both in offering a helping hand and by showing up and enjoying the events. “They were racing people,” said Eddie. Showing full confidence in his friend, Eddie called Johnny a ‘Shake and Baker’ meaning he’s a guy who can get things done.
Without a doubt, Paso has become a destination for wine enthusiasts and vacationers as well a place to relocate from Los Angles and the Bay Area. Now, the community has the opportunity to add to the city’s list of accomplishments by making itself the California Central Coast motorcycle racing destination.
For more information about the festival, visit rideitoutmoto.com.