I don’t remember quite when I first met Murray Fowler. It had to be sometime in the mid-1990s—probably through San Diego Chapter member Dennis Damon, as he had twisted my arm into organizing a LA Chapter wash-and-shine event and put me in touch with Murray.
Who was this guy Murray, anyway? He owned a coupe—a pretty nice one—nicknamed the Blue Max. Interesting, I thought—but the primary reason I was talking to him was to twist his arm to help out at the LA Chapter event I was helping to organize.
I got to know Murray, and would see him on a regular basis at Club events. Our friendship developed over the years, and I now consider him to be a pretty good friend. Murray always has a good story to share—most often about BMWs.
Perhaps one of the best memories I have of this gentleman—the Grand Coupster—is from a drive to the Monterey Historics sometime in the early 2000s. It was a Thursday, and I was travelling north on Highway 101, a bit north of Santa Barbara. I was in my E30 M3, cruising along at a reasonable pace; in the rear-view mirror, I saw this dark-colored box-like car back in the distance. It didn’t take too long before I could tell it was an 02 (nope, not a Rambler) back there—slowly but steadily gaining ground on me. Okay, no problem; I’m in no rush, the weather is nice, and I am enjoying the drive.
A few more miles pass, until we’re north of the rest stop, in one of the lovely sections of the 101. The 02 is closer still—constantly getting closer. Soon enough, it’s near enough for me to figure out that it’s Murray—as usual, making better time than I. Hey, that’s okay; he has plenty of miles under his belt!
Murray and his 02 pull up alongside me; he waves at me and drives past. I pick up the pace a bit and just tag along, a few car-lengths back, enjoying the drive and the view. We cruise north for a while, the four of us: Murray and his 02, my M3 and me. I am getting down a bit on fuel, so I close up, wave, and take the next exit somewhere near Atascadero.
The next day, at Friday’s Concorso Italiano, Murray catches up with me and chides me for being a slowpoke. He calls me Speedy. We laugh.
Flash-forward to last August: Thursday again. We are on our way up to Monterey for the vintage races. After leaving our breakfast stop in Santa Barbara, I get stuck at a stoplight, and the rest of the group, including Murray, get a few miles ahead of me. I roll onto 101 North, figuring I’ll make up some time. I’m in the right-hand lane, a bit—ahem—above the posted speed limit, and the darned Valentine 1 is screaming at me, displaying multiple hits. What the heck, I think, must be just a ton of those darned automatic door openers triggering all these alerts.
I close in on a car ahead, flick on the turn signal, and begin to move over to overtake it. That’s when I notice the motorcycle officer. He pulls down his radar gun, stores it in its holster, and begins rolling about the time I drive past him. I’m already coasting down, thinking for just a moment that maybe, just maybe, he’s going to get the car that I was pulling out to pass.
The CHP unit pulls in behind me and flicks on his lights. Yep, I’m toast!
After receiving my Certificate Of Achievement, I use my hands-free phone to call and let the gang know that I am going to be a bit late to the next stop. Several hours later, when we all pull off in Big Sur to stretch our legs, Murray comes over to me and says, “So, Speedy, what’d he write your for?” We laugh; guess I’ve earned it now, eh?—Fred Larimer