David Russell: “If it has four wheels and goes fast, I’ll drive it”

Whether you know him as D-Russ, Davey, or just David Russell–either way, there’s no doubting he can steer a car.

If one thing’s certain, it’s that David Russell is no stranger to motorsport. The New South Wales, Australian-born driver will take part in his ninth SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in a few week’s time, co-driving with Simona de Silvestro in the number 78 Harvey Norman Nissan Altima, as he will do so in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Pirtek Enduro Cup.

The Pirtek Enduro Cup will take the pairing to some of the best circuits in Australia, from the first round at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, to the iconic Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, and then capping it off on the streets of the Gold Coast, right next to world renowned Surfers Paradise beach.

The Bathurst regular says he is excited to jump back into his annual Supercars co-driving duties and confident in his ex-IndyCar co-driver De Silvestro for a combined strong result between each of their efforts.

“The continuity is there with the team,” Russell said. “There’s no awkwardness, I obviously know the team owners, team manager and all the staff, so it’s going to be easy to settle in. Simona [De Silvestro] is new to the category and she’s doing a very very good job, she’s having a strong season too [in Supercars].

“You think about a rookie driver coming in, and they’ve done Super2 [the development series for Supercars] or whatever, as its been shown year in year out, when someone is elevated into the main series it takes a couple of years to get going. She hasn’t had a couple years; she’s only had a few rounds.

“She’s very professional and she’s had a very successful career in open-wheel racing, there’s a lot of learning to get into a Supercar and change that. That professionalism is engraved in her, she can translate a lot of things across to the engineer and start working the car out. I’ve been very impressed and look forward to working with her in the enduros, that’s for sure.”

While juggling his beloved–but rather expensive–hobby, D-Russ also has a beautiful young family to look after, as well as a separate job. The Bathurst 12 Hour class winner says he tries to keep a balance between family, racing and work, as well as his other interests.

“For me I have two young kids: a 4-year old daughter and a seventeenth month old boy. Already he’s got a toy steering wheel in front of him and showing interest in cars or having something to do with cars, so I’ve probably got trouble there.

“Other than that I enjoy running and cycling, but it’s all about keeping the work and life balance between motor racing, work and family. I like to spend as much time with my family as I can outside of racing and work.”

Born in 1982, Russell grew up in a country town called Casino on the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. Some would just consider him a rural racer, but his story is far more unique.

Russell started out in motorsport like most young racers do, through karting, but quickly discovered the unfortunate nature of growing up in a rural area. Despite that, the ex-Porsche Carrera Cup Australia racer has moulded an extremely successful career in GT racing and has participated in world-renowned events like the 24 Hours of Spa, on top of his Supercars co-driving duties.

“I can be very proud of what I have achieved. I have come from two very supportive parents and being a second generation racer, it doesn’t set you up for greatness.

“In motorsport, you of course need a decent budget, for me I learnt some lessons early trying to get my way through. It’s obviously a very expensive thing and to come from a regional area, it’s quite difficult because every time you had to go away for karting events, you had to travel a fair distance.

“Look, I can be proud of where I’ve got to. If I had been down in Melbourne or Sydney as a young karter, maybe there would’ve been more opportunities, but I can’t change that so I’m only looking forward on things.”

Russell started out his circuit racing career in Production Car Racing, driving a Suzuki Swift in the 2000 Australian GT Production Car Championship. In 2001 he transitioned to a Proton Satria and raced it in the same category, participating in multiple Bathurst 12 Hour and 24 Hours as he went along.

When the year of 2006 struck, Russell leaped into one of Australia’s most prestigious one make series: Porsche Carrera Cup. The young racer spent three years in Carrera Cup with Sherrin Motorsport, culminating with third place in the 2008 series, which also then led to various endurance race drives in Europe and Asia with Juniper Racing and Lago Racing.

His further years were spent within the Supercars paddock as well as forging a successful career in GT racing overseas and on his home continent.

“It has been fun and a good journey where it’s relied on opportunity rather than having to front to teams with a whole lot of backing. I have enjoyed it. Obviously, things haven’t gone my way, if they did go my way I would’ve been in the main series–Supercars–by now and been in a seat there, as it was very much looking like the case a few years ago.

“You are just rolling with it. I have had some good success overseas in GT racing and I’d like to think I can continue as a co-driver in Supercars, although I’d like to be back in Carrera Cup and doing something more and keep doing the GT racing as well, that would certainly be the plan for 2018, that’s for sure.”

Russell spent February of 2016 driving one of the most iconic and unique cars to ever set its wheels on a race track. An expedition that he spent over a year securing: a drive at the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour with Bentley Team M-sport in their Bentley Continental GT3 alongside factory drivers Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet. The all-star trio finished up the grueling race in seventh place. Russell returned to his loyal squad at Lago Racing the next year to get back behind their Lamborghini RE-X. 

Russell says he is aiming to do more world-class GT3 racing around the globe, but he is open to any country, any series, any race track, and even any car.

“I’d be excited to race under the GT banner more. I’ve done a Blancpain GT Endurance race at Spa. I think I’d have a lot to offer in that series, whether that be in the Sprint or Endurance championship. Obviously, I have been in the ADAC GT Masters previously, but also I’d like to do the Asian championships as well.

“So, I think definitely in the GT world I’d like to do more. That being said, if there was an electric touring car with electric motors soon and they needed someone to drive those and develop them, I’d be excited for that too. But look, if it has four wheels and goes fast, it doesn’t matter–I’ll drive it!”

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Slade is a young, aspiring motorsport journalist from Australia. Next to contributing to GT REPORT, he also runs his own blog featuring content such as race write-ups. Slade regularly attends Australian GT events.

Slade Perrins

Slade is a young, aspiring motorsport journalist from Australia. Next to contributing to GT REPORT, he also runs his own blog featuring content such as race write-ups. Slade regularly attends Australian GT events.

  • Nice work, Slade. I got to talk to Dave at this years Bathurst 12 hour and he was very, very welcoming and accommodating – Top bloke!