|Bob Muravez started driving professionally in
1961 for the John Peters and Frank Quincy Automotive Special, a twin
engine gas dragster, later to be known as The Freight Train, that ran
185 MPH in 8.50 seconds. In early 1962 he won his first major championship
race in Top Gas at the Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championships. Bob
stopped driving in June of 1962 due to pressures from his family.
He continued to crew on The Train to try to help the new drivers with
the handling characteristics of the car - these drivers included Craig
Breedlove, Tom McEwen, Mickey Thompson and Bill Alexander. After five
months of The Train not qualifying for a single show, Bob got back
in the seat, setting a new Top Gas speed record on his first run.
To hide his identity from his family, he drove under the car owner's
name of John Peters and won the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona in
1963. Three months later, with Bob at the wheel, The Freight Train
became the #1 Top Gas dragster in the nation.
was dubbed Floyd Lippencotte, Jr. by Steve Gibbs and Mel Reck in November
of 1963 and won 6 national events under this alias*. He won two NHRA
Springnationals in 1967 and 1969 and NHRA Summernationals in 1968,
driving The Freight Train. In 1967 Muravez drove The Freight Train
to a new speed record of 200.44 MPH at Lions dragstrip - the first
Gas dragster ever to go over 200 MPH, winning the UDRA Championship
and setting an ET record of 7.31.
In 1964 he drove Nye Frank's Top Fuel streamliner,
The Pulsator, which won the Best Engineered car at the 1964 NHRA Winternationals.
In 1965 he drove the Sandoval Brothers' Top Fuel dragster and won
many Top Fuel events at Fontana, San Fernando and Lions dragstrips.
In 1966 Muravez drove for Don Johnson's Beachcomber Top Fuel dragster,
winning the Las Vegas Invitational and the Mickey Thompson 200 MPH
Championship at Lions dragstrip - beating out a field of 75 Top Fuel
Muravez retired from drag racing in 1971 and didn't drive again until
John Peters restored The Freight Train in 1993 and ran exhibition
runs at four national events. Bob started driving Jon Halstead's Western
Hoist Special nostalgia Top Fuel dragster in October of 2000 and competed
in all of the 2001 GoodGuys events, winning the B/Top Fuel field in
Las Vegas in May, Top Fuel Eliminator at Indy in June, and the B/Top
in Fomosa in November. He also took the B/Top Fuel money at NHRA's
10th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion in October.
Bob lives in Burbank, California. He and wife Sharon have been married
for 29 years and have two sons, Mike and Peter, who crew on the dragster.
Bob is the owner of Ralphs Maytag Shop, which explains why he has
always had so much time to go racing.
The Birth of 'Floyd' According to Sharon - Basically
Muravez did it only to hide his identity from his hard-ass father.
In 1963 his dad said he'd proved himself as a 'driver' when he won
his first championship, and told him that he wanted him to stop driving.
Bob did step out of the cockpit, but continued to go to races as part
of the 'crew'. After 5 months with various drivers at the wheel (some
rather notable!), the Train never even Qualified for a single event.
. . it was a hard car to handle. I think Bob said the car always pulled
to the left (I think -- don't quote me), so he actually had to turn
the steering wheel the other direction at the line to compensate.
John Peters kept making changes to the car, and Bob kept trying to
help the new driver(s) with the characteristics of the car. Finally,
I think it was Bill Alexander driving the Train at Lions, and got
really frustrated. . . He blew off at Bobby that with all the changes
to the car even he, Bob, couldn't get it to perform any more. With
that, after 5-6 months out of the cockpit, Bob put on Alexander's
fire suit and helmet and made the pass in disguise. Guess what --
he set a new track record! The stands erupted.
The seed of Lippencotte was planted. . . Bob went to the tower,
writers, photographers, etc etc and asked to keep his identity a
secret. They identified him as John Peters for awhile and then a
couple announcers dubbed him Floyd Lippencotte, Jr. so he could
have his own identity. All photos were taken with his face mask
on, and in trophy photos, Rex Slinkard, a crew member, got to accept
the trophy and kiss the trophy girl. In these old photos, you can
almost always see Bob in the background, snickering knowingly. After
he won a big race, I think either in Orange County or Riverside,
he was personally interviewed by Keith Jackson (I think) on Wide
World of Sports. He was so shook up that his dad would see it. .
. His father had a boat at the time, and that weekend his father
was set to go to Catalina. Bob went to the boat and 'borrowed' the
TV for the weekend. All went okay and he was undetected, until one
of his father's cohorts at the Elk's Club told him about the Lippencotte
appearance on TV. . . Oops.
That's about it, Don. As you know, there are records for wins under
John Peters' name, and many under Lippencotte's -- misspellings
and all. Yes, it's "Floyd J. Lippencotte, Jr."