Johnny Murphree, the hard-riding Californian who earned the 1997 AMA Grand National Rookie of the Year award, and then accepted it at the annual dirt track awards banquet in a neck brace due to a crash at the Del Mar Mile on that day, is out of action again.
This time it is far less serious, Murphree breaking his left foot while practicing on his motocross bike on his first day back on a motorcycle since suffering a badly broken left arm in the "Black Sunday" crash at the Du Quoin Mile last July.
"I just came up short over a double," Murphree said. "I was out riding with some friends, and I didn't know this until after it happened, but they apparently had lengthened the distance of the jump by about 10 feet. It still looked the same to me."
Murphree said that he expects to be in a cast for four weeks and that he will also probably miss Daytona in an effort to concentrate on the rest of the upcoming Progressive Insurance AMA U.S. Flat Track Championships series. Murphree will once again be teamed up with Tim Coziahr and the Coziahr Harley-Davidson team, although who else might be on that team has become a recent source of speculation. Rumors abound that Pennsylvania rider Kevin Varnes may be the newest man to join the fold, but nothing is confirmed as of yet.
"I haven't heard anything, and it really doesn't matter to me what happens with that," Murphree said when asked about a potential new teammate. "I will still have one of the best deals I could possibly have. We have more than enough equipment, and I couldn't ask for a better team owner than Tim. He really takes good care of me. I can't wait for the year to get started."