Racing school founder Jim Russell celebrated with historic race meeting

Racing school founder and treble British Formula 3 champion Jim Russell will be celebrated in a new two-day historic race meeting at Snetterton next spring

Racing school founder Jim Russell celebrated with historic race meeting

Former racer Russell, who died in March aged 98, played a key role in the early career of many future stars including Emerson Fittipaldi, Derek Bell and Jacques Villeneuve.

Russell lived most of his life in Downham Market in Norfolk and started his racing career at Snetterton in 1952.

He won the British Formula 3 Championship three years in a row from 1955 to 1957 but ended his career after being injured in an accident at Le Mans in 1959 while partnering Bruce McLaren in a Cooper.

In 1956 he set up the first motor racing school at Snetterton and became a founding father of the global racing school movement.

Thousands of people had their first experience of a racing car at Jim Russell Racing Drivers' Schools.

He used the success of the school to launch a racing team which steered future Formula 1 champion Fittipaldi to the British F3 title in 1969 (pictured below). Just before, in 1966, Russell had provided many of the cars for the infamous Hollywood movie Grand Prix.

The Jim Russell Trophy Meeting (April 4/5) will feature 10 Formula Ford races to honour the memory of the racing school pioneer and also the early heritage of the Formula Ford Festival.

Before moving to Brands Hatch in 1976, the first four Festivals were run at Snetterton from 1972 to 1975.

Andy Dee-Crowne of the event organiser, the Historic Sports Car Club, said: "We are delighted to be able to honour the memory of a man who did so much for the sport.

"Snetterton is also the ideal place to celebrate Formula Ford and we will have races for cars spanning 50 years of the category."

The spread of races will form a journey through Formula Ford history, from the earliest Pre '72 cars in the Historic category via the cars of the 1970, 1980s and 1990s to the latest Kent-engined cars in two Champion of Snetterton races.

The HSCC plans to stage a display of cars relevant to Jim Russell's life and is keen to hear from anyone with a suitable car.

It is hoped that Russell's widow Jenny, who was a nurse in Norwich hospital when Jim was being treated for his Le Mans injuries, will attend the event along with other people with connections to this motor racing pioneer.

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