The original king of Pukekohe, Greg Murphy’s success in a Supercar predates the official first championship round in 2001 and continued into this new era.
Murphy was a rising star in Formula Brabham and Super Touring before being picked up by the Holden Racing Team ahead of the 1995 Sandown 500 to partner young gun Craig Lowndes.
It proved a disappointing endurance campaign, but this was reversed in 1996 as the duo tasted victory in each resulting in Lowndes completing a clean-sweep of the Australian Touring Car Championship, Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000.
Off to Europe Lowndes went leaving Murphy to take up the role as teammate to Peter Brock during his retirement season in 1997. But before this, Murphy’s dress rehearsal for the role occurred on home ground and boy did he impress.
In a sign of results to come, Murphy won the Mobil New Zealand Sprints held across the summer months and featuring leading touring car drivers from both sides of the Tasman.
Pukekohe hosted the first round and it was a Murphy benefit as he clean-swept the three races, while another win on the streets of Wellington sealed victory from John Bowe and Glenn Seton.
The events demonstrated New Zealand’s thirst for Supercars racing, but it took another five years until the category returned as Pukekohe played host to a V8 extravaganza.
Murphy had endured a mixed campaign in Supercars up to that point, although another Bathurst victory highlighted some lean years at Gibson Motorsport following being replaced by a returning Lowndes at HRT.
Now racing within a satellite Walkinshaw Racing squad sponsored by Kmart, Murphy dominated at Pukekohe in a clean-sweep of proceedings as the passionate New Zealand crowd crowned their king in style.
In 2002, Murphy was finally beaten at Pukekohe, but still took the round on the way to second in the title.
More success followed in 2003 as he returned to dominating the event by taking two wins and a third as Holden rival Mark Skaife ruined Murphy’s chance to take two clean-sweeps in three years.
A move to Paul Weel Racing in 2005 failed to continue Murphy’s position as a title contender, but it did provide the base for another Pukekohe sweep.
Stints followed at Tasman Motorsport, Paul Morris Motorsport and Kelly Racing, but the Pukekohe magic never followed, neither did it transfer to the Hamilton street circuit where the New Zealand round was held between 2008 and 2012.
Finishing as an endurance driver for the Holden Racing Team in 2014, Murphy returns to co-drive alongside Richie Stanaway as part of the Boost Mobile-supported Wildcard at this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000.
Murphy goes down as one of the great New Zealand drivers and can lay claim to inspiring many by his early achievements at Pukekohe.