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An Interview with Darrell Russell
- Posted May 18, 2011 -
We started this website for our Bracket pictures and to let people look at photos of the few National Events that we get to go to. In addition to the pictures, we decided to try and do some very informal interviews and to try and have fun with them. This interview was done at the Nitro Warm-Up in February at Firebird Raceway . We had planned to publish Darrell's interview later in the year, but after the great loss drag racing suffered at St Louis we wanted to present it at this time. We had the great honor of meeting Darrell and what we found was, what had to be, one of the nicest and most down to earth people in the sport. Lynn had only done a few interviews so far and she asked Darrell if he would do one for our website. With that great big Texas smile of his he told her that they could go into the lounge as it would be quieter and that they would not be interrupted. He made her feel more at ease and this is what we got. Darrell, we are honored with the great privilege of meeting such a wonderful person. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife Julie, his family and Amato Racing.



Q. Who is the real Darrell Russell?

A. He's just a regular guy with an opportunity of a lifetime.



Q. What are some of your hobbies and interests?

A. I love to spend time at home with my wife Julie. I like to build things and to fabricate things. I play guitar a little bit. I like to work out. We have a little ranch outside of Houston and I like to work on that. We raise mini donkeys and Jack Russell terriers



Q. How did you get started in drag racing?

A. Just interested and fortunate enough to have parents who supported me and were able to finance a great deal of it.



Q. Tell us a little about your family life.

A. I kind of grew up in a motor sports family. My older brother raced Motocross and I raced BMX bicycles, so as a small child I was always going to the races. I always had an interest in race cars. When I was 15 or 16 years old my dad took me to my first drag race and I have been hooked ever since then. When I graduated from High School my Mom and Dad gave me a graduation gift to go to the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School. I got my license in Super Comp and we started racing as a family, it just evolved from there. We raced Super Comp for 3 or 4 years and then went to an Alcohol Dragster and raced it for 9 years. At that point, I got the opportunity to drive for Joe Amato and that's how it all came about.



Q. Would you encourage the children coming up in the Junior Dragster ranks?

A. Absolutely I would, it's a great place to be. There are a lot of great things to do in this sport and you don't have to be just a driver. It's very technically involved now and we need people out here that are good with engineering and mathematics to be able to make these cars go faster. There are so many different areas out there so don't just look at driving.



Q. What advice would you give a new driver?

A. Just take your time; it takes a long time to become competitive and to learn how to win. It doesn't happen over night, I've been doing this for 17 years total and still every time I get in the car I learn something new, and it's pretty amazing. It's like traveling in the universe you never get there, but you have to constantly be working at it.



Q. Who are some of the people you look up to in the sport?

A. I've always looked up to the guys I'm racing against. Joe Amato, Bernstein, Don Prudhomme, pretty much the greats in the sport, there are a lot of teachers out there.



Q. Where is your favorite place to race?

A. Actually Pomona, there's a lot of excitement there and it's the first race of the year. It's just a great place, the fans are fantastic and everyone out there has real nice time, it just has a different feel to it.



Q. Would you say you've made any big mistakes in your career?

A. No, I don't think so; I mean, I feel I've made all the right decisions as far as where I'm at today. I'm very proud of those decisions. If I were to do things over I'm sure there would be something I'd do different, but for the most part I'm very satisfied the way things have turned out for me.



Q. Do you get along with your crewmembers?

A. Yes very well, they are a good group of guys. I try to stay involved with what they are doing in their personal lives. That's what builds a team, when you have all that stuff together, and work on it all the time and just being friends with these guys.



Q. What's your relationship with Joe Amato?

A. It's a good relationship. It's like anything else, relationships take time, you don't become friends overnight. Joe and I both have the same interest in Drag Racing and we are both drivers and I think that helps our relationship a lot. I can talk to him very candidly about things in racing or about things outside of racing. I feel comfortable around him and I think he feels comfortable around me. I think we have a real nice relationship.



Q. Does he lets you do things your way?

A. One thing I like about Joe is once he found out that I could handle the race car he kind of took a back seat. He let me develop my own style, my own rhythm and my own routine. He was always watching and if I had any questions he was right there to help me out. It's not his way or the highway, he definitely lets me develop as a driver and to do the things that let me feel comfortable.



Thank You Darrell



In closing, I truly do Thank You Darrell for being just you. Always a huge smile as big as Texas and a special connection with everyone that had the pleasure of watching you race and the way that you always took time for the fans and media.

YOU WILL TRULY BE MISSED.
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