Tragedy Mars St. Louis Outing RICHFIELD, OH 7/2/04 "I'm still trying to come to grips with what happened," admitted Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk following the Sears Craftsman Nationals. "When you see something like this, where the sport -- no, not just...
Tragedy Mars St. Louis Outing
RICHFIELD, OH 7/2/04 "I'm still trying to come to grips with what happened," admitted Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk following the Sears Craftsman Nationals. "When you see something like this, where the sport -- no, not just the sport, but everyone -- loses someone as special as was Darrell Russell, it brings everything into a little sharper focus. Things like elapsed times and speeds, or who's got the left lane, become meaningless.
"Drag racing itself is a very big family, but within that larger group there are the racers themselves, and believe me, we're all a lot closer than it may seem. Most of us will do anything we have to in order to win, but when we lose someone like Darrell everything else fades into the background.
"This was clearly and obviously one of the sport's really good people, and I will never understand how we keep losing the best of the bunch."
Pawuk's remarks were in reference to Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell, 35, of Hockley, Texas, who lost his life in a finish line accident in the second round of eliminations at Gateway International Raceway on Sunday evening. Russell, who moved from a successful career in the sportsman ranks into the driver's seat of five-time points champion Joe Amato's dragster in 2001, promptly won his first outing at the Winternationals before going on to claim Rookie of the Year honors. He recently won his first race of the season at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing.
"I know a lot of folks at Summit probably met Darrell for the first time in the winner's circle at Columbus, but I'd like to assure them that the over-the-top happy guy they met at the race is the same guy we saw day in and day out. He was always smiling, and was deservedly one of the most popular guys in the fuel racing ranks. He was a very special person, and he's going to be missed by all of us.
"I know I'm speaking for every member of the Summit Racing community, from myself to Warren and Kurt Johnson, Larry Morgan, Tim Wilkerson, Dan Fletcher, Greg Anderson and Jason Line, when I say that our hearts go out to the Russell family. We can only hope and pray that they'll get through this. We know they'll never forget, but neither will we. Darrell Russell will be with us every time we go to the starting line."
Pawuk did not qualify his Summit Racing Pontiac in St. Louis. The team's next outing will be at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Denver July 16-18