Danielle Murphy-Ireland's number 1 female drifter.
Danielle Murphy, the only female Drift competitor in Ireland, competes across Europe and is currently ranked the Queen of Europe 2013 and 2015.
Danielle started life as the only girl in a family of 3, herself and her 2 brothers are both into cars. She is the only daughter of a haulier from Saggart in south west Dublin. Her love for everything with an engine came from her childhood, her family had a company.
Danielle tells me that her parents always had performance cars as they grew up, so it was always a normal thing for them to be driven to school in powerful cars! The interest was always there and from a young age she wanted to Rally.
So Danielle tell us Drivetribers that don't know you about yourself?
I grew up in a family Haulage and Mobile Crane business, my parents always had performance cars as we grew up, so it was always a normal thing for us to be driven to school in powerful cars! The interest was always there and from a young age I wanted to rally .
What was your first car? What age did you get behind the wheel,17 like many of us legally?
Don't judge me.... a Rover 200!! I had it a week after my 17th birthday in April, it took until August for my Driving Test date, so the day after passing my test I traded it in for a Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 so that I could tow my horses around in the horsebox and be independent as I was always relying on others to take me to horse shows etc.
I've been steering trucks since before I was walking and driving since my feet were long enough to reach the pedals!
What made you start in the drifting side of Motorsport?
I couldn't afford Rallying when I wanted to get into it. I got involved in the Modified Car scene from the time I was 18 and was fortunate enough to be able to insure performance cars over the kitted ones. I did a lot of demos at shows in a Pajero Evolution I had, I still have it, I suppose because it was so rare and I was doing donuts at car shows all over the Country, I became known as the the mad one in the white jeep. So when Drifting started in Ireland, I thought to myself, "I can do that!" So then I set myself a goal that I wanted to be the first woman in Ireland to put it up to the guys, needless to say, as I grew in the Sport, more opportunities came about so I took them all and built more goals!
Having known Danielle for 6+ years maybe longer I've always wondered what her first car was and how what was her first drifting event, she told me... My first car was a grey Nissan 180sx that I seen for sale in the UK. I booked a flight the day before going to see it and take it home, the owner called me later that night to say the alternator had gone, so within a few hours I had arranged for someone to meet me at Cork airport at 5am the next morning, actually now that I remember, it was Mike Deane, who met me with one!!
How long ago did that happen?
I think that was about 10 years ago, 2007 ish?
How did you fund it all? It must cost an awful lot?
When I knew I wanted to buy a car for Drifting, I knew I would need to have a van and trailer to transport it around, so I thought about how I could make it all work in a circle logically without it costing me a fortune to set up. I bought myself a recovery truck with a tilt and slide bed, and because of all the contacts I had within the Modified Car scene, a lot of them were importing cars from Japan at the time. I'd heard nothing but complaints from Import Companies because the transporters were causing hundreds of Euro worth of damage to bumpers by not taking care when loading and unloading lowered cars.
How many cars have you owed? Competition cars and non competitions cars?
I've had 2 competition cars, but have had a few 180's and S14's that I bought and sold too . When I started, Drifting was known as the "Cheap Man's Motorsport" as it was pretty affordable to get into it. But nowadays the Sport has grown to an incredible level throughout the World
When did you first start competing in the 180?
I arrived home with the car on a Thursday, had one of my brothers friends weld the diff in it and I continued on to Watergrasshill in Cork, sat outside the gates at about 4am, and waited for gates to open at 8am. I seen that gap in the market and I took it, I'd sold the 180sx a few weeks after buying it to put towards buying the truck as I realised I needed a better car.
When did you buy the green monster?
8 Years ago I think! The 180sx I had hit an end when we were involved in a crash en route to an event in Portugal, the car was hit by an articulated truck and centre reservation around the Le Mans area in France. I broke my foot in the crash but continued on to the event to compete.
I ended up breaking the 180sx for parts and put the money into the replacement which happened to be a Green S14a. There was actually no other half decent cars available in Ireland or the UK at the time, that's how I ended up with The Green Monster, I wouldn't mind I'd be a little superstitious with the colour green, but because the base was white, I overlooked that bit!
So when did all the drifting start with the s14a , what did you think when you seen it ? What was the first modification?
I had actually picked the S14a up from Dublin Docks when it was first imported on my truck, and I joked to the garage that imported it that I might accidentally lose it at my house! It was a year later that I bought it.
The first modification was to take out the bolt in cage and fit it with an FIA approved weld in cage.
Then steering modifications were made. To be honest, in the 8 odd years that I had the car, I was constantly improving and upgrading parts because financially I couldn't afford to do everything at once. A few days after I collected it! I brought it to the UK for the Drift Allstars licensing event in Silverstone
What was your first event with the green monster?
I competed in the British Drift Championship for a couple of years and had the car based in the UK as I wanted to further my experience outside of Ireland and try gather exposure for myself. I had my first podiums in the UK and I progressed fast with the track selections they had at the time.
The more I progressed, the more I found myself at the hands of jealousy which eventually turned malicious. It was then that I was about to walk away from the Sport because I had always made one promise to myself, that the day I didn't enjoy it, would be the day that I would walk away.
I left the UK in August 2012 as it had gotten to a point where my safety was being jeopardised. It took a lot to get over that Mentally and personally.
It was my mam who basically picked up the pieces of me that were broken and told me that I should give Europe a try, we couldn't afford it financially but she would get behind me 100% so at least I would no I'd never have regrets and also not to let those bully's win by me quitting.
So what happened next?
So Christmas in 2012 I got onto the owner of the King of Europe Drift Championship asking what I needed to do to be eligible to compete in the Series. He made my Christmas by telling me he had already heard of me and I was more than eligible and welcome to join the Series! That's when he told me that the Queen of Europe Championship was about to be launched. In the May was the first ever event in Bulgaria, it was too far for me to take my car and I couldn't afford to, the owner of the Championship offered me a Street Legal Drift car to use at the event should I wish to take it, I was very skeptical as I knew I couldn't afford to fix anything if I broke it! A ferry to the UK as foot passengers, myself and my mam were met in Hollyhead, Wales by a friend who collected us and raced us to Gatwick to get a flight to Sofia, we had made it by the skin of our teeth!
So it's 2013 what happened next, anything exciting?
I went and won that first ever QOE event.
At that stage had never believed possible I could have won.
Then I seen the possibility of winning the Championship.
When I first heard about the Championship, I'd said to my mam, "Can you imagine if I won that!" My own car was letting me down a lot, I knew to be competitive, I needed to completely strip the car and rebuild it. I did that in 3.5 weeks. On a whim and a prayer, my family and followers actually helped me out financially to make the final two events in Hungary & Croatia.
I won the first ever QOE and my first European title that year
What did u win for that just the trophy or was their cash with it?
Just a trophy!
So what happened next, surely only things can get better from here on?
I expected and hoped things would get easier! After winning the Championship, I took every opportunity to promote myself, as technically it could have been a once in a lifetime thing that happened. The Irish Media were great at the time, TV, Radio and Newspapers. I sold one of my trucks to fund a trip to Las Vegas for the SEMA show, the biggest Motor Trade show in the World, looking for opportunity and some new sponsors.
Do you ever get things paid for you? Not as much as I'd like to!
Moving onto 2014 surely this year was a better year for you?
Another year of struggling, begging and borrowing lol, then in the Final round I was robbed of the Championship and I finished runner up!
BUT, I did get the opportunity to test out for a GT3 DTM Team at Ascari in Spain!! That was definitely a life moment. I was invited over by a German team to test with them and race a Dodge Viper, with no prevous experience or advise, I won my first ever 3 races, never mind in a beast of a car to handle! That was definitely a bucket list item that I never even knew I had until it was offered to me!!
2015 had to be your year and the car's year?
2015 - The car challenged me more than ever. I nailed the styling of the car, I had always an image in my head of what I wanted the car to look like, and together with a friend, he was able to make it for me. We made the moulds and shap with a Lucozade Bottle and Coca Cola can, duct tape and cardboard!!
No fiberglass there then so Danielle.....
Mechanically, I invested money into upgrading the steering to Wisefab because the judges knocked me so much points for my previous setup. I also got a Quafe 69G Sequential gearbox fitted to the car.
Without testing, I arrived straight from the dyno in Ireland to the track in Budapest, Hungary. I won the first event of the season, qualified highest over 4 different Championship classes. Poland for Round 2 was in Karpacz, nicknamed Globally and well know better as "Crash Patch". The uphill mountain road with huge kerbs was without a doubt one of the toughest and most challenging tracks I've ever driven, you needed to be 100% brave and committed.
Early in practise, on one of the transition corners, my clutch stuck to the floor as I used the e-brake to transition, the car took grip and fired me over a kerb and between two trees.
It was a bad off with substantial damage to the drivers side front suspension and wheel.
The other teams and competitors were unbelievable, we lifted my car onto its side, removed the gearbox to repair the initial problem with the clutch, they managed to straighten the suspension and wheel.
God was definitely looking down on me that evening, as time was getting tighter and tighter to the close of qualifying, the local Authorities closed the track early and qualifying commenced the following morning, giving me more time to repair the car.
I won that event and proceeded to come 6th in the Pro men's class!
2015 is undoubtedly and will be the most memorable for me. One of my best friends, the guy who made the bodykit with me for the car, it was because he pushed me at about 02.30am when I was actually for the first time ever, about to give up.
Packie unfortunately died in an accident on my Birthday in 2016. It was the last event he shared with us.
Packie overheard a competitors pit crew cheering and drinking in early celebrations because they believed my car was finished for the weekend, he pulled me aside to also listen and told me, "as long as he was there was that person lifting that title the next day". We did!
After winning the Championship in 2015, I knew my car needed a full overhaul and redevelopment.
I decided to upgrade the engine to a 6 cylinder and completely strip the chassis back to start again.
Due to the financial nature to do this, my car never made it onto the track during 2016.
Following the untimely death of my friend, it set me back personally, in memory of him, I wanted to defend my Championship Title in 2016 and continue the fight.
I rented a fellow Irish competitors car and took it to France, I won that event! For the remaining 4 events, I rented a different car in each Country location to compete. I got podium in every event but just fell short of the Championship title by one position.
I was disappointed at the time, but then realised how incredible that result was given the challenges I faced and cars I never drove before, I actually think that result means more than the Championship Titles, as it proved me as a driver and my natural ability.
Girl power Danielle.
So onto this year 2017 what was this year to hold for you?
April 2017, The European Season started, my car was still unfinished in my Tuners garage, and things just seemed to be going backwards, it was taking longer and longer when it was due to be completed..
I didn't want to go renting cars again this year, I had proved I could do that by my results last year, and to be honest, financially I couldn't afford it, 22 months I was rebuilding my car, The Green Monster.
8 years of owning my car and constantly trying to improve it bit by bit each year, I'd finally built the car of my dreams. Estimated to run about 700bhp, the car was on level of Formula Drift. Everything was brand new in the car.
On June 9th this year, I had planned to take the 3.5hour each way trip to my Tuners garage to fit the Digital dash and oil pressure sensor, my car was just ready to give the first start up... It wasn't meant to be. At 4.30pm on Thursday the 8th June, as I had just left home to collect my mam from work, I received a phone call from one of my friends in Kerry to ask if my car was still in my Tuners garage, I said yes.
My heart sank with the words that followed next. The garage was on fire, and it was not looking good for anything that was inside the garage. My brothers Drift car was also in the garage and also a fresh new build.
We lost everything. Nothing was salvageable from either car.
9Years of work, taken from me, and the blows continued after that when we were given notification that the premises had insufficient insurance. We were literally left with nothing.
What's left of the green monster you ask....check out the link below.
Check back in a week for part 2 and see how Danielle has coped since this happened and what she has done since...