I received word yesterday that my good friend and mentor Russ Paradise passed away. I was looking forward to seeing him this Thursday at an AMCA meet in Pennsylvania.
The attached crappy pictures I snapped from images of an old VHS tape on my TV. Russ raced dirt track in the 60's until Uncle Sam interrupted his career by drafting him off to Vietnam. He resumed after he returned.
The pictures above are from 1991 at the Fulton County Fairgrounds in Western Ohio. Russ is on his old 45" WLDR Flathead. As I looked through the view finder I realized that this is the exact moment that I decided that I had to Flat Track race before I die. It took me almost ten years to make that a reality.
Russ loved to "get right up in the loose stuff" and spray the crowd with pea gravel (his favorite racing surface) as he went by the Grand stands.
Russ shared a lot of his experience and wisdom with me over the years. Trying to teach me the art of broad sliding, tuning my Flathead and drinking Jack and Ginger at 7 AM when it's "Crackin' Cold"! I only mastered the latter. He recently sold his Knucklehead to another friend and I got to ride it around his property this past fall.
I will definitely miss this (sometimes cranky) old bastard! I learned a lot from him...now I just need to put it to some good use!