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Living Legend, Russ Truelove

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Russ Truelove

Living Legend, Russ Truelove

Jeremy T. Sellers
Jerm's Joint
February 21, 2007

Granted, he only raced from 1953-1957 and over that time made a mere 13 starts, Russ Truelove is one of the last remaining drivers that raced on Daytona's legendary beach/road course. He qualified 5th for the 1956 race and landed five top tens in his short career.  Not impressing numbers, but to see his eyes light up when he begins to talk about those days and any question you want to throw at him and get a half-hour answer, it's easy to see this old timer still has a zest for the sport.  At 82, and with a slight hunch in his neck, Russ stands proud next to his reconditioned Mercury which still carries the number 226 on the door panel.  The cold air had us all a tad chilled, and Mr. Truelove continuously had to wipe his nose.  However, he greeted each fan with a hand shake, a smile, and when asked to pose for a picture with me, he told ME he'd be "proud to".  It will prove to be a an experience I'll never forget as he signed an autograph of an 8x10 of how he appeared "back in the day" and then the photo of me with him now.  The years have graced him with a sound mind, an enormous story-telling ability, and the time he allows himself to spend with each person that wants to give him theirs.

Russ quit racing in 1957 after somersaulting his car six times after downshifting and having the drive-wheel dig into the sand, citing that the cause of his retirement was not the night spent in the hospital, but the expense, even then, that NASCAR's small teams couldn't endure.  He picked it back up again in 1989, racing 4-cylinders, but after a hard crash into the wall, the doctors told him to hang up his helmet, and he "figured" he'd "better listen".  It was truly amazing to speak with someone who hob-knobbed with Big Bill and remembers when the "north turn" was just that, not the bar and grill it is today.  I hope Russ is around for next year's Living Legends which meet at the Ponce Inlet lighthouse every Friday before the Daytona 500 to show their cars, pictures, sign autographs, and tell their stories.  It is indeed, something that no true race fan should miss.

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