Greg Murphy was a bullish young Kiwi at the time Craig Lowndes was drafted into the #15 Holden Racing Team (HRT) entry in 1996.
He had similar ambitions to Lowndes with regards to open-wheelers, but the reality in Australia and New Zealand is that the money was in touring cars. When Lowndes opened the door for younger drivers, Murphy stepped through it.
Twenty years on, V8X Supercar Magazine reflects back on that season with Murphy, Lowndes and former Holden Racing Team (HRT) boss Jeff Grech interviewed for their recollections on that turning point season in issue #93.
Issue #93 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93.
"There was envy and jealousy when he [Lowndes] got the drive, but there was also excitement because he was paving a way for a lot of us at the time," says Murphy.
"Jeff Grech was bringing through a new era of drivers and Craig was already a star after that '94 Bathurst, but 1996 set the tone for moving forward. I was really fortunate to be drafted to HRT as well and in 1995 I joined CL for the endurance races.
"I watched him with interest and was keen to try and get on the bandwagon too. What he then did in '96 had everybody sitting back and taking notice of younger drivers and I could see that was going to be benefit for me as well.
"We had a championship full of icons who had played such a big part in the formation of this brilliant championship, but it needed to start looking at future proofing and that meant younger drivers. It was a change and everyone took convincing at the time, but it had to happen.
"With Craig achieving what he did and then heading overseas, the door opened for me to slide and have a crack in the factory team pretty early on and in my career.
"There is no doubt he opened doors and created opportunities for us younger guys at the time."
Murphy would replace the Europe-bound Lowndes at HRT in 1997, before Lowndes' return in 1998 eventually forced Murphy to move on to other Holden teams from 1999.
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