RPW Column: Orange County’s 50/50 Team Ready To Log Many Miles During The ’22 Season

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – WALKER VALLEY, NY – When you attend your first race of a new season, there are usually some subtle changes at your local track. There are usually some driver roster changes. There may be some facility upgrades.

But for the most part, things usually stay pretty stable from the year before. Positions like the announcer, flagger and officials for the most part carry over from the previous season.

As the new season begins at Orange County, there will be two people back at their usual duties, doing a job that not many would want to partake in. It’s not a position that gets them any publicity, say in the manner of a writer who gets their name in a column header or a photographer who has their name on a logo.

But they are familiar faces to the racing family at the Orange County Fair Speedway. And if they didn’t do what they do throughout the season, they would be missed.

They are the OCFS 50/50 sellers. Karen Morris Murphy and her daughter, Shelby-Jo Murphy. For more than a decade, they have loyally walked all through the large Orange County facility at every event, doing a job that they have come to enjoy.

“I’ve been doing it for 12 or 13 years now. It started when Pam Van Dunk from the OCFS staff asked me at a World of Outlaws show. And I just continued on after that. And Shelby has been working with me for 10 years now.”

With Orange County having a large pit area, drive-in section and grandstands, the miles can quickly pile up on a race night.

“Each week, we start in the pits and we head up to the drive-in before warmups start. We go through all the rows. one by one. Then we head on over to the grandstands. Shelby-Jo wore a monitor once on a Saturday and it recorded 8 miles.”

And for the most part, it has been just Karen and Shelby-Jo for all these years.

“It’s hard to get any extra help because of all the walking that’s involved. But we’ve had some help through the seasons. We have had help from Jessie Meyle for a year and Taylor Rogosich for two years.”

The busiest night for the 50/50 team is the annual Eve of Destruction. It’s a shorter duration event than a race night with the grandstands at full capacity.

“Shelby’s friend, Caitlynn, had never been to the track, but she came that night. We just handed her an apron and a roll of tickets and told her to do her best. She loved it.”

And Karen has done 50/50 work at other tracks also.

“Sometimes, the sellers from Lebanon Valley have come down to help out at Eastern States. They were like, ‘how do you do this every week, that’s a lot of ground to cover’. I’ve also gone up to the Valley to sell. Jay, who runs the 50/50, said that he never saw me stop moving. I’ve also worked at Accord and sometimes Bethel when OCFS was off.”

Eastern States Weekend is always a test of endurance for Karen and Shelby-Jo.

“With the 4 day format, by Sunday, we are exhausted. But we enjoy the work. We have supported the track for years. You will never find a better group of friends. It’s like I told Shelby, your school friends and your work friends come and go. But those racing friendships can last a lifetime.”

And Shelby-Jo echoes her mother’s thoughts on the interactions with the fans.

“I really enjoy being around the racing scene at OCFS. Even when it’s really hot and I melt into a puddle, I enjoy selling the 50/50’s. I love talking and joking with all the fans. Even that crazy party crew in turn 2 under the trees.”

Karen’s family has long been involved in racing at OCFS. Her father, Joe, worked at the pit gate. Her brother, Joe Jr, helped out with track prep. Her brother, Cookie, made those great car patches that were very popular at the photo stand underneath the grandstands back in the day.

And her mom, Doris, did the Carl Van Horn Fan Club in the drive-in section for many years. Sadly, Doris passed away on 2/27/22. It’s a loss in the OCFS Racing Family. Race Pro Weekly sends our condolences to the Morris and Murphy families.

What Karen and Shelby-Jo do is an important job at the speedway. In addition to sending a lucky fan home with extra cash each week, the other half of the 50/50 goes into the driver’s point fund or in some cases, goes to a charity. They are always familiar, friendly faces at the track. They are part of the fabric that makes up the racing experience at OCFS. And they do a great job. Karen has said that if anyone is interested in joining their team, to contact her. They would welcome some help.

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