Russ Clendenen, longtime USAC Official, succumbs at 94. Russ Clendenen, the genial official of AAA and USAC Midwestern oval track racing for over 50 years, died at a nursing home in Dayton, Ohio on Monday, July 15 at the age of 94. He was born...
Russ Clendenen, longtime USAC Official, succumbs at 94.
Russ Clendenen, the genial official of AAA and USAC Midwestern oval track racing for over 50 years, died at a nursing home in Dayton, Ohio on Monday, July 15 at the age of 94. He was born March 24, 1908.
Russ had been involved in racing since the late 1930s when he was a mechanic for 1937 Central States Racing Association champion Everett Saylor and he was on the pit crew when Saylor competed in the 1941 Indianapolis 500. By 1946, Russ had turned to officialdom, serving as an assistant to AAA's Midwestern Sprint Car supervisor, Bob Martindale and eventually to succeed Martindale in 1958, two years after USAC had been formed to fill the void of the departing AAA. Russ had charge of the Sprint Car series for the next 11 seasons until 1969 when he took over the USAC National Championship series for two years. In 1971, with the spinning off of the Championship dirt track cars into a separate series - now known 30 years later as the Silver Crown series - Russ was named to head it up. The Sprint Cars also came back under his wing in 1972 and he was to oversee both entities until 1978 when 1973 Sprint Car champ Rollie Beale hung up his goggles to take charge of the Sprints with Russ as a consultant.
It is estimated that Russ had probably officiated at more than 1,500 events when he finally stepped down in 1985, but even then he continued to serve as a consultant for the next several years.
In 1982 Russ was honored by USAC with the prestigious Eddie Edenburn Award for his lifelong contributions to the sport of auto racing.
Russ was, above everything else, a racing enthusiast and he was regularly seen at racing events, old timers meets and fan club gatherings. He was exceedingly fair, even tempered, compassionate and optimistic and had the ability to defuse a stormy situation by placing his arm around the shoulder of a disgruntled participant and calming them down with some fatherly advice.
He is survived by his wife, Geneva "Jennie" Clendenen.
Visitation will be Thursday night from 5-8 pm at the Gilbert Fellers Funeral Home, 3 Hay Avenue, Brookville, Ohio, with funeral services at 10 am Friday.
The above is courtesy of Donald Davidson, IMS.