Historian, journalist, promoter, PR expert
The Syracuse, NY native’s impact on the sport was so great that there are two awards named for him, our own Bob Russo Heritage Award and the Bob Russo Founders Award, bestowed by the American Automobile Racing Writers and Broadcasters (AARWBA). After a stint at Speed Age, Russo started AARWBA, one of the most successful organizations of its type. In 1956 he helped Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Tony Hulman form the United States Auto Club (USAC), replacing AAA as the category’s sanctioning body. After a successful stint in the early ‘60s doing publicity for the NHRA, he joined 2009 inductee Les Richter at Riverside as director of PR and marketing before taking on similar responsibilities at Sears Point (now Sonoma) and Ontario Motor Speedway. Next, Russo promoted Miller Brewing’s involvement in IndyCar and unlimited hydroplane racing, then helped 1990 inductee Mickey Thompson launch “stadium” off-road racing in the 1980s. After retirement, Russo researched the history of American open wheel racing. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2000.