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Peter Giddings Racing

The Ride Of A Lifetime

-story and photo by Peter Darnall

"Now that was an experience!"

Ken Murphy's smile told everything you need to know about the CSRG Charity Challenge Rides event. He had just climbed out of Peter Giddings' 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 after a thrilling ride as a passenger around the track at Infineon Raceway. The CSRG Group has raised nearly half a million dollars for charity since the inception of the Charity Challenge Event in 2004. At this event, members of the public can purchase a ride in a sports car at speed around Infineon. Funds raised by these rides represent a significant part of the donations each year.

Is this activity dangerous?

Yes. that is why you sign a waiver and put on a crash helmet before getting into a car. You will be driven around the 2.5 mile course at speeds approaching racing conditions. Your driver has a competition license and the car has been inspected to insure that it is mechanically sound. The safety record for this event is perfect... the line to sign up for the car of your choice is longer each year.

Ken Murphy is no stranger to speed. He had spent many years involved in hydroplane boat racing and has the championship awards to show for it. The sensation of speed on those boats, according to Ken. is very different from the experience of speed in a vintage Alfa. Boats are aimed at distant points, while the car is on a narrow track negotiating corners with little room for error. Pointing to the crest on his jacket. Ken mentioned he‘d run a 1963 Dodge Dart with some success in the Carrera Panamericana recently. He still rated the Alfa in a class by itself!

"I'm eighty-three years old." he admitted. "That car (the Alfa) was winning races with men like Tazio Nuvolari at the wheel when 1 was three years old. I just can't believe how that Alfa handles. Peter was really manhandling that wheel and throwing the Alfa into power slides around the corners."

Kens initial concern over the security of the low cutaway doors disappeared as the Alfa accelerated out onto the track. He described being able to clearly see the large tachometer on the steering wheel with the needle hovering near the red zone. He remembered the heat rising up from the floorboards with the "wonderful smell of hot racing oil" and the "sound of a really thoroughbred engine." In the open cockpit of the Alfa, he could watch Peter‘s feet as he worked the pedals. "Double clutching." Ken said, "is a lost art today. I couldn't believe how Peter's feet danced on those pedals and his coordination with that long shift lever .. . I might have been watching Nuvolari!"

"That ride in the Alfa was the experience of a lifetime." he concluded "I’ll never forget it!"

Ken's Smile





Ken Murphy smiling after his ride with Peter in the Alfa.