Russell exited our world just
as he was reaching the top
NHRA.com's Rob Geiger, one of Russell's closest friends, remembers, "I think Saturday night might have been one of the happiest nights of Darrell Russell's life. He had just locked up his second career No. 1 qualifying effort by having the quickest car of the last three qualifying sessions, and third quickest of Round 1, and that smile of his was even bigger than normal.

"As we left the track and searched for a late snack, which ended up being Steak & Shake, we headed back to our hotel in downtown St. Louis to get some rest. Darrell said to me that he couldn't remember a time in his 19 years of drag racing when he felt so much confidence in his car. 'For the first time ever, I know we have the quickest car out there,' he said. "'It's a great feeling.' "

Online portion of Russell auction pushes grand total to $300,000
The online portion of the Darrell Russell Memorial Auction pushed the grand total of all three benefit auctions to $300,000, with all proceeds going directly to Darrell's wife Julie. Combined with the $225,000 raised in an historic live auction at Pomona Raceway during the season finale, and the $45,000 posted early that day in a silent auction, the $30,000 raised on the Internet helped organizers more than triple their expected tally.

Prepare to bid: Darrell Russell Auction goes live on the Internet
Due to a huge response from NHRA drag racing fans from around the world, the final segment of the Darrell Russell Memorial Auction will be offered live on the World Wide Web via a special online auction site. More than 70 unique items are being placed on the auction block for the next seven days and bidders are encouraged to visit www.nhra.net/DRauction or click on the link below to view the items and make their offers.

Darrell Russell Auction nets more than $270,000
The Darrell Russell Memorial Auction absolutely shattered pre-event expectations as final tallies of Saturday's live and silent auctions netted more than $270,000.

Free admission, online items add to Russell Auction
Select items up for bid in the Darrell Russell Memorial Auction will be made available online, event organizer Larry Dixon said Saturday. Additionally, NHRA officials are allowing fans to attend the silent and live auctions Saturday, Nov. 13, at Pomona Raceway without having to buy a ticket to that day's racing action.

Darrell Russell Memorial Auction picking up steam
Larry Dixon and his wife Ally have been working overtime at organizing the Darrell Russell Memorial Auction, which is slated for 6 p.m., Saturday, November 13, at Pomona Raceway's Hospitality Village. The Dixon's report a flood of donated items that will be up for bids in both silent and live auction formats.

Dixon's organize Darrell Russell Memorial Auction for Pomona
Two-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and his wife Allison are calling on the racing community at large to help them make the newly-formed Darrell Russell Memorial Auction the biggest and best charity event of the year. The Darrell Russell Memorial Auction will be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Hospitality Village at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., at the conclusion of professional qualifying for the Auto Club Finals.

Darrell Russell Memorial Fund established
A trust fund has been established for the Russell family. Donations may be sent to Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, Partners Bank of Texas, P.O. Box 60369, Houston, TX 77205. Partners Bank of Texas phone number is 281-964-3000.

Darrell Russell website now online for fans to get goods
Due to an overwhelming demand, fans wishing to purchase Darrell Russell tribute T-shirts and/or the official "DR Star" sticker can now go to DarrellRussell.com.

Over 2,000 mourners attend Darrell Russell's funeral in Texas
TOMBALL, Texas – Over 2,000 fellow racers, friends, and family members mourned Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell's death Friday in this small country town on the outskirts of Houston.

An open letter from Darrell's wife Julie Russell
Julie Russell, Darrell's wife, has been absolutely overwhelmed by the out-pouring of emotion and love from around the world. The Russell home resembles a floral shop and the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund (c/o Partners Bank of Texas, 281-964-3000) has already received a few checks and several inquiries even though it was only created Tuesday. Darrell's personal e-mail box and the inmemoriam@amatoracing.com mailbox have been emptied several times but are always full again within hours.

Julie asked that NHRA.com post this note thanking everyone – friends, fans, sponsors, fellow racers, NHRA officials, members of the media, and regular citizens who were touched by this tragedy – for their kind words of encouragement during her time of unfathomable grief. Although told that it didn't matter, that everyone would understand, Julie promises that, while it may take months, she will respond to every letter, donation, gift, bouquet of flowers, e-mail, and phone call simply because "it's the proper thing to do."

"I've lost my best friend," she said. "And I see I'm not the only one. Darrell touched so many people, which I already knew. It's been so nice to see how loved he was out there. Thank you all."

Fans remember Darrell Russell, gentleman racer
The outpouring of remembrances and respects from the NHRA fan community for Darrell Russell was overwhelming. Several hundred e-mail messages were received at NHRA in the days following Russell's accident, recalling personal encounters with him and other emotions, just a small portion of which are reprinted here.

Gateway raises more than $12,000 for Darrell Russell Memorial Fund
Gateway International Raceway announced that over $12,000 was raised at a June 30 benefit for the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund during their Slick Tire Test and Tune. More than 1,000 fans attended the emotional ceremony to pay tribute to former Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell, who was fatally injured at the track during the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals.

Dee Zee fundraiser offers Russell diecast and T-shirt
In order to promote the legacy and memory of Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell, Amato Racing sponsor Dee Zee is offering a package containing a 2Fast 2Furious Darrell Russell diecast car along with a 2004 Darrell Russell Dee Zee Racing T-shirt for $100. The proceeds will be donated to the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, which has been established for the Russell family. To order this special package and contribute to the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, call Dee Zee directly at 1-800-779-2102. Click on the images above for full-sized versions.

Darrell Russell, 1968-2004: Living a drag racing dream
Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell's ascension to the elite ranks of championship contender in the POWERade Drag Racing Series was a testament to hard work, perseverance, and a simple desire to assume his father's role. Although his dad, Burnell, never reached the heights Darrell did winning six races in 17 final-round appearances and the Rookie of the Year award in three and a half pro seasons – his influence was hard to ignore.

Statement from Tom Compton, President, NHRA
NHRA President Tom Compton issued the following statement June 29, which reads in part: "Everyone at NHRA is deeply saddened by this tragic accident. We have lost one of our greatest ambassadors and rising stars. During his relatively short career at NHRA, Darrell made a positive impact on the sport of drag racing, as evidenced by the many lives he touched, both within the racing community and with his many fans. Follow the link to read the full text of Compton's statement.

Darrell Russell tribute decal and shirts available in Denver
A Darrell Russell tribute decal and T-shirts are being produced and will be available at the Joe Amato souvenir trailer at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver and beyond. All proceeds will benefit the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund. As a true testament to the closeness of the NHRA community, the idea for the decal and the design were done by Todd Myers, publicist for Kalitta Racing. Russell, a lifelong Texan, was a huge fan of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. Click on the image of the decal for a full-sized version.

Hotel availability for Russell funeral
NHRA's Division 4 office has reserved a block of rooms at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, 1601 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77380, for those attending Russell's funeral. The room rate is $92 a night; interested parties should call either (800) 262-1509 or (281) 367-9686 and mention Darrell Russell.

Darrell Russell photo gallery added
NHRA.com photographer Ken Sklute has uploaded a small gallery of images of Darrell Russell taken over the last two years, including him with team owner Joe Amato and some from the Sears Craftsman Nationals and another of Russell receiving his Budweiser Shootout low qualifier award at the event. See the gallery here.

Statement from Russell team owner Joe Amato
Joe Amato, team owner for Darrell Russell's car, issued the following statement June 28: "The whole Amato family and team sends its condolences to Julie Russell and the entire Russell family. The loss is a tragedy. Aside from being my driver, I feel I have lost a friend. I can't say enough about Darrell. You had to like him. I was proud to have him driving for me. He was like a member of the family. He raised Jack Russell puppies and brought me one for my own. I have so many memories. He was a rising star and had all the qualities of a champion. No words can describe in God's world what's fair. He's up there now probably watching us."

Russell funeral, viewing services set
Viewing and Services for Darrell Russell have been set. The viewing will take place Thursday, July 1, from 5-9 p.m. at Klein Funeral Home, 1400 West Main, Tomball TX 77375. Phone: (281) 351 7233. The Funeral service will be held Friday, July 2, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 400 West Oxford Street, Tomball TX 77371. Instead of flowers, the family asks for contributions to the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund (see information below). Russell will be laid to rest at Klein Cemetery, 32539 Highway 249, Pinehurst, TX 77362.

Fellow racers and fans remember Darrell Russell
Racing world from fellow competitors, fans, and sponsors was immediate and emotional in the wake of the death of Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell, who was fatally injured June 27 during final eliminations at the 8th annual Sears Craftsman Nationals.

Amato website offers fans chance to send condolences
The Amato Racing website (www.amatoracing.com) has set up an e-mail address for fans to send condelences and rememberances. The address is inmemoriam@amatoracing.com.

Video: Russell's first win at the 2001 Winternationals
When Darrell Russell won in his Professional debut at the 2001 Winternationals, he joined a very short list of those who have accomplished this feat. Click here to watch a video from his winning final round pass, or click here to read the review of the event.

Video: Russell's final triumph at 2004 Columbus event
Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell gave drag racing legend Joe Amato the ultimate gift for his 60th birthday with a huge win over points leader Tony Schumacher in the final of the Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment. Russell powered through the timers in 4.56 seconds, ahead of Schumacher's 4.60-second pass. Watch the video here, which includes great footage of Russell celebrating his victory, or read the recap of the event here.

Russell career photo collage
A photo collage of some of Darrell Russell's rides under the Amatao Racing banner as well as his Alcohol Dragster, along with other images, have been compliled into a photo collage. The collage can be viewed here.

Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell fatally injured in racing accident
Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell was fatally injured June 27 as a result of a crash during race eliminations at an NHRA national event at Gateway International Raceway. Russell, 35, of Hockley, Texas, was competing in the second round of eliminations when his dragster went out of control and crashed just past the finish line.

Career highlights
  • 2004
    Won sixth career Top Fuel title at event in Columbus, Ohio; posted second career No. 1 qualifying spot in Madison, Ill.

  • 2003
    Posted career-best 4th place POWERade points finish; recorded career-best speed; advanced to three finals, including Mac Tools U.S. Nationals; earned third-straight POWERade Top 10 finish; kept qualifying streak alive at 70 races (has never posted a DNQ in his career)

  • 2002
    Won three races, including back-to-back victories at Denver and Seattle; Earned first career No. 1 qualifying position

  • 2001
    NHRA Rookie of the Year; Became third driver in NHRA history to win in first professional start (Gary Scelzi, TF, 1997; K.C. Spurlock, FC, 1990); Advanced to seven final rounds with two victories

  • 1999
    Division 4 Top Alcohol Dragster champion

  • 1998
    Division 4 Top Alcohol Dragster champion

  • 1997
    Won at Indianapolis in Top Alcohol Dragster

  • 1996
    Division 4 Top Alcohol Dragster champion

  • 1994
    Division 4 Top Alcohol Dragster champion

  • Has 19 divisional event wins

  • Recorded seven Top Alcohol Dragster class national victories

  • Three-time Division 4 Driver of the Year

  • Six-time Top Alcohol All-Star representative