The Russell family has a long legacy in short track racing in the state of Florida. David Russell was a proven winner in the Sunshine State and he fielded cars for Pete Orr and Lee Faulk before providing the opportunity for his son, Tim, to drive.
Now that his racing career is over, Tim Russell is still following in the family footsteps away from the racetrack.
“The family business is an automotive repair shop and we have been in business 38 years now,” Russell told Speed51. “We do everything from engines, transmissions, brakes, oil changes. Everything but paint and body. It got time to where I had to learn how to run the other side of the business and I had two little boys who were growing up too fast and it was just time to walk away.”
The second-generation Russell won just about everything in Florida during his racing years. He won the FASCAR Sunbelt Super Late Model Titles in 2007 and 2008. Those same years he won the Bright House Challenge Series to post four championships in two seasons. Later it was the FUPS Late Model title in 2011.
Russell Racing was continuing its success into a third decade with Tim at the wheel.
“We had a really good team and we had fast cars all the time and that made my job easier,” said Russell. “We got to do a lot of neat things. I think we won at every track we raced at in Florida.”
Tim looked to expand the team with development drivers and saw success with younger talent and won several races.
“Looking back now it seems like it was a blur,” added Russell. “I gave it my best shot to get to NASCAR and we had some good opportunities to make it there, just funding fell through. We added the driver development program and got a chance to get a lot drivers wins in a Late Model.”
His fondest memories were accomplishing the same feats that he had seen his father do years before. Tim won the Florida Governor’s Cup 200 in 2009 to become the second father-son winner combo in the race’s history.
Another crowing moment came in 2011, when he won the World Series of Asphalt title in a Super Late Model like his dad before him. Russell had an average finish of 2.75 in eight nights of racing.
“It was cool to win the same races my dad had won with our team,” said Russell. “From the Red Eye 100 to the Governor’s Cup, it was special. To win the World Series title in our backyard was a huge accomplishment as well.”
Ironically, Russell is probably one of the few people that can say he’s been to the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing and the baseball World Series.
Tim’s brother-in-law is Jonny Venters, a relief pitcher who has spent several years at the Major League level. The family watched Venters’ Washington Nationals play in the World Series last fall.
“Baseball is really big in our family’s life now,” said Russell. “My wife’s brother plays for the Washington Nationals and we got to take the family to the World Series in 2019 and it was cool to do that with my boys, who love baseball so much. That’s pretty cool for a 9 and 7 year old.”
Russell explains that the weekend are very much the same as they were at the racing level.
“My kids are only young once and I wanted to spend time with them on the weekends playing baseball and football. We are always going to travel tournaments or games, so it’s like the racing deal in some ways.”
Despite not being at the track, it was tough for the family and Tim personally to hear about the loss of David Rogers last month.
“He was an inspiration and I grew up watching him race with my dad and I knew him for a long time,” said Russell. “I got to talk to him a bit this year and It hit pretty good when we heard the news. We will miss him.”
Tim has not stayed away from racing completely. He was helping Jesse Love in Super Late Models and Connor Mosack in Pro Late Models this year at Speedweeks.
“I do miss it a little bit, but I was at the World Series this year helping some young guys who were quick to learn and run well.
“I am not officially retired,” added Russell, “There might be a day where I go back to it, but for now it’s not a part of the plans.”
When asked about a third-generation driver coming out of the Russell racing stables he said only time will tell, but right now the focus is on baseball.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Russell Racing Team Photo