Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 91

Chassis Engineering , which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021 .
“ Business-wise , we ’ re doing 100 times better ,” Murphy says . “ My wife got involved in the business and that ’ s helped tremendously . I ’ m going to say she still allows me to go racing , but it ’ s not like that . I can understand why she wouldn ’ t want me to , but she also knows I ’ m with guys that are on the same page and basically keep me in check .”
Stewart gave Murphy complete control over the race program , from choosing manufacturers to the crew members who join Stewart and Murphy at the races .
“ It makes it to where you want to do this ,”
Murphy says . “ You ’ re not forced into anything . If you want to use this part , you just grab it and go do it . Again , [ Stewart ] has a lot of input . It ’ s not like he just gives me the keys and walks away . It ’ s nice because it ’ s all of us – Chris , Johnny , everybody – is on the same program : have fun , then win . We ’ ve sucked some this year and we ’ ve done good some this year . It ’ s always the same attitude on the flight home .”
Always humble , Murphy is quick to deflect credit for the team ’ s immediate success .
“ It ’ s not a me group , it ’ s an us group ,” Murphy adds . “ That ’ s the way I like it . They label me the crew chief , but I don ’ t feel that way . It ’ s just a bunch of guys out here racing and having fun . I think it ’ s easier that way . It ’ s easier to blame a guy if you have a crew chief . But you have to take it as a team . At some races , the driver won rounds for us all day long because I sucked . But
December 2021

LABOR OF LOVE

Chassis Engineering celebrates 40 years in business
By Nate Van Wagnen

CLAYTON MURPHY started working at Chassis Engineering in 1985 , just a few years after Bill Edwards started the business in 1981 . It was one of the first dedicated mail-order chassis shops on the East Coast , giving racers an alternative to waiting on parts to come in from the West Coast . Convenience was one of the company ’ s key factors to success from the beginning .

“ In 1983 , Chassis Engineering partnered with other industry leaders to offer a complete line of axles , spools , rears and related components , as well as adding the facilities to assemble these components for virtually any application ,” says Edwards , who counts the company ’ s 1996 SEMA Best New Product Award as one of his proudest accomplishments . “ This offered our customers the added convenience of complete components .”
“ At the time , there wasn ’ t anyone [ in the chassis business ] that packaged stuff ,” Murphy adds .
“ Everyone had all their single , individual parts for sale . Nobody really packaged anything . That was one of the things I think Bill did really well in the marketing side , putting all these kits together so people only had to buy one part number instead of multiple . A lot of the other companies followed suit .”
Chassis Engineering rapidly expanded , growing from their 2,000-squarefoot shop to eventually working out of a building nearly 20 times larger . Product lines grew , and the company even started building complete cars , from street rods to high-level doorslammers . But personal customer service has always remained important , no matter how big the company became .
“ We have always had on hand technical support for racers to call and ask questions ,” Edwards says . “ We always wanted to help the racers determine the best parts for their application and changing power .”
The recession in 2008 led Edwards to scale the company back a bit to its current 10,000-square-foot operation in Riviera Beach , Florida . He then sold the company to Murphy in 2013 .
“ I always thought Clayton was the right person to take over ,” Edwards says . “ When my son had other goals , it was a good decision to sell it to [ Clayton ], despite other offers .”
Since owning the company , Murphy has worked to grow the business again , though he ’ s taken a slow , sustainable approach . His wife , Kelley , manages the business side of the operation , allowing Clayton to focus on the areas where he shines : fabrication , R & D , and tuning customers ’ cars .
“ I ’ ve always liked making stuff better and making stuff faster , trying to learn how to get things more consistent ,” Murphy says . “ My dad was a mechanical engineer , and I think I get a little bit of that from him .”
Murphy admits that the supply chain issues that are affecting businesses across nearly every industry are also felt at Chassis Engineering , but as engineers , solving problems like that comes naturally to Murphy and his team .
“ We ’ ve been spending around 80 percent of our focus trying to source materials , which has led to having to think outside the box and come up with different ways to manufacture ,” Murphy says . “ We ’ re revamping some of the products , making them better .”
With 40 years in the books , Murphy is proud of Chassis Engineering and everything it ’ s accomplished . With a renewed energy , he ’ s passionate about continuing to provide track-tested chassis components and exceptional customer service for years to come .
“ My biggest thing has always been quality ,” Murphy says . “ We try to make sure that when the customer gets the product , they ’ re as happy with it as we are when it leaves . I race almost every weekend , so I know what it ’ s like to get somewhere and not have what you need or a part failure or something like that , so we try to get all that stuff worked out before we even ship it out the door .” DI
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