Jim Russell (racing driver)

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Jim Russell (born Herbert James Russell, 28 May 1920) is an English former racing driver, garage owner and founder of the Jim Russell Racing Driver School.[1]

Jim Russell Racing School Snetterton.JPG

Early life and garage[edit]

Russell was born at his parents fish and chip shop and lived most of his life in Downham Market, Norfolk. His first job was selling ice cream.[2] After serving with the RAF during World War II, he became a garage owner,[2] aided by his brother Peter.[3]

By 1960, the garage, filling station and race schools were employing over 100 people.[2] The car garage closed and was demolished in November 2007 with the land destined for new housing.[4] In late 2013 the first units were marketed on an exclusive, gated development called Russell Gardens.[5][6]

Racing career[edit]

Ex-Jim Russell Cooper T45 at Donington in 2007

Russell's driving career began at the age of 32, when a friend invited him to go to his local Snetterton race circuit.[7]

Starting with a 500 cc Cooper with a J.A.P. engine, Russell quickly progressed to a Manx Norton engine fettled by established motorcycle tuner Steve Lancefield. He then moved up to Formula Three and Formula Two.

Between 1953 and 1959 he won 64 Formula Three races, 11 Formula Two races and 6 sports car races. He won the British Formula Three Championship for three successive years from 1955 to 1957 in the company of established drivers Les Leston and newcomer John Surtees.[7]

Russell's racing career ended after suffering injuries in a crash at Le Mans in 1959, meeting his future wife Jennifer who was a nurse at a Norwich hospital.[2] They married in 1965.[8] He went on to run a stud farm from his house at Bardwell Manor, Suffolk.[2]

Racing driver school[edit]

In 1956, Russell set up the first motor racing school at Snetterton. It was very successful and Jim Russell Racing Driver Schools have played a role in the development of many young drivers including Emerson Fittipaldi, Derek Bell, Danny Sullivan, Tiff Needell and Jacques Villeneuve.

In 1966, Russell was responsible for the cars and much of the action in John Frankenheimer's film, Grand Prix, with actor James Garner learning to handle a race car for his starring role.

The 'Jim Russell' name continues with franchised schools carrying the name.[2]

Racing team[edit]

Emerson Fittipaldi in a Jim Russell Racing Drivers School Lotus 59 in the 1969 Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch

With the success of the driver school, Russell entered promising drivers in Formula 3 races in a Jim Russell Racing Driver School sponsored car. This included Emerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus 59 who won nine F3 races in the MCD Lombard Championship to become the 1969 champion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] England and Wales records Retrieved 2014-01-10
  2. ^ a b c d e f [2] Jim Russell Garage from Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2014-01-10
  3. ^ [3] England and Wales records. Retrieved 2014-01-10
  4. ^ [4] Treadfast Services Ltd, dissolved 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-10
  5. ^ [5] West Norfolk planning applications, site services. 0.61 ha. Treadfast Services Ltd, Jim Russell Honda and Esso Garage. Retrieved 2014-01-10
  6. ^ [6] Morris Armitage estate agents. Russell Gardens, London Rd. ...small and prestigious development of brand new houses Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  7. ^ a b [7] Jim Russell Profile at The 500 Owners Association. Retrieved 2014-01-10
  8. ^ [8] England and Wales records. Retrieved 2014-01-10

External links[edit]