Jim Murphy is president of Jim Murphy and Associates, a construction company located in Santa Rosa. “I started in the drywall business when I was 23 years old,” says Murphy. “When I was 27 or 28, I started building some single-family homes, then when I was 30, I sold my drywall business. I’d been drag racing and was approached by Coca-Cola to race under their banner. I did this for four years all over the United States.
“I’ve always liked making things with my hands,” says Murphy, who also lives in Santa Rosa. “Seeing a challenge, figuring out how to solve it, then making it happen was something that came easily to me. I believe it truly is a gift, and I just love it. I find it gratifying to be a part of creating something and being able to look back at the result many years later.”
Are you a North Bay native?
I was born and raised in San Francisco. When I was 17, my family and I moved to Wisconsin. I met the girl of my dreams, we eventually married and moved to Santa Rosa when I was 21.
Do you have a big family?
My wife, Judi, and I have been married 54 years. We have two wonderful daughters and four outstanding grandchildren.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I started drag racing on the track as a young man and am still deeply involved today. I’ve stopped a few times to try other hobbies, but always return to the drag strip. I love the challenge and the building of all the parts needed for the racecar, assembling everything and seeing if we have been able to improve. It’s just so measurable, as the race times are recorded down to one ten thousandth of a second.
What was an act of kindness you offered or received?
Through racing, I got involved with the Christian Rodders and Racers. Judi and I felt led to build a prayer center for them at their headquarters in Branson, Missouri. I chose a local contractor, had him do the construction and I would visit the job site once a month to oversee the work. It was a gift that has truly kept on giving.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Never give up,” That was from Mr. Spicer, a special friend I met while racing full time for Coke in the ‘70s. One morning while we were enjoying breakfast, he told me he thought all a retired person would need was 15 acres of grapes to enjoy his retirement. He was 94 years old at the time. I brought up the fact that it takes about three years before you start making revenue from the grapes. Now mind you, he had been very successful and did not need the income. However, he went on to single-handedly clear his property, cutting down the trees to use as perimeter fence posts; then he built the fence around the property. He planted the vines himself, too. He lived to be 103 years old, time enough to see the grapes harvested from his efforts. Mr. Spicer would always say to me, “Jimmy, don’t ever give up.” I really respected him.
If you could go anywhere for a one-day visit, where would you go?
I’d like to go back in time, to the Wild West. I love the pioneer spirit of reliance on oneself and making things happen.
What’s the most adventurous or daring thing you’ve ever done?
I’d never had the desire to parachute, but my granddaughter asked me to go with her when she turned 18, so I did. Another time, I drove my dragster 260 mph into the dark with no lights on at the end of the racetrack. That one was spooky.
Where’s your favorite place to go when you want to be alone?
My racecar shop. There, I’m able to tune everything out and work on building parts for the racecar. It’s very peaceful there.
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