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Thu, 20 Sep 2007, 01:36 PM

Darrell Russell Book a Tribute to Beloved Drag Racer




Rising drag racing star Darrell Russell lost his life at the height of his professional career in an on-track accident at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis in the summer of 2004. During his all-too-brief three-and-a-half-year stint as the driver of legend Joe Amato's 330-mph dragster, no one was closer to Russell than NHRA.com Senior Editor Rob Geiger.

In Darrell Russell: Broad Smiles, Quarter-Miles, Geiger memorializes his best friend and fellow Texan by exploring the person he was, from his boyhood years in Houston to his life in the fast lane of NHRA Championship Drag Racing.

Filled with stories of Russell's early days with his beloved family on through to his numerous successes on the racetrack that made him one of the most sought-after racers on the circuit, Geiger's book already has garnered some high praise in media circles.

"I loved this book. I thought I would take a week and read it in my spare time, but once I started I could not put it down. We always knew Darrell was a great person and now I know why. An absolute must-read whether you're a race fan or not." -- Mike Dunn, ESPN color analyst and former NHRA racer

"Rob Geiger does something special with his biography of the late Darrell Russell -- he makes you feel as though you lost a friend. Rob's unique perspective and close personal relationship with Darrell gives the reader a chance to get to know Darrell on a very intimate level. It's obvious that those who knew Darrell wished their time with him had lasted a lot longer; that the ride had gone a little slower." -- Erik Arneson, Speed TV

"You don't need to be a drag racing expert to appreciate this book. Geiger's message goes much deeper than racing. It's story about a young man with a dream and a burning desire to reach his goals." -- Terry Blount, Senior Motorsports Columnist, ESPN.com

"Rob Geiger writes about Russell's life and death like someone who was close and cared. That's because he did." -- Joey Richards, Galveston Daily News

In the following question and answer session, Geiger discusses his personal journey producing Darrell Russell: Broad Smiles, Quarter-Miles as the book becomes available for purchase.

Q: What was the impetus for writing this book?

Rob Geiger: In its purest form, I wanted the book to be a tribute to a very special friend. I wanted to put down in words the kind of person Darrell was as a friend, a brother, a son, a husband, and a drag racer. He was just an awesome individual; probably the kindest person I've ever met. The guy simply didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was incapable of saying or doing anything negative. That alone made him special.

After he died, I realized that he touched so many people in his life and they all felt the same way that I did. From boyhood pals, to his family, to fans that maybe only met him for a brief moment for an autograph or a picture, everyone truly loved the guy. I wanted to capture all of that so that we never let our memories of Darrell fade away. We should all strive to be like Darrell.

Q: What will readers take from this book?

Geiger: Hopefully, they put the book down and remember what a great guy Darrell was and maybe it will encourage people to be a little more like Darrell in the way they live their lives. I spent some time with his adoring family, his parents Burnell and Gwen, who are absolutely some of the most special people on earth, and his younger brother Chris, who spent his whole life with his brother and perhaps suffered the biggest loss of all when Darrell passed away.

I had some very emotional times with his longtime sweetheart and wife Julie, who shared a side of Darrell that only the love of his life would know.

The interviews with his close friends and teammates out on the circuit were also very special. I tried to capture all sides of his life and as varied as they were, they all pointed to the same basic person.

Q: Where can this book be purchased?

Geiger: I'm selling it exclusively at JEGS.com, and it's important for people considering buying the book to know that 100-percent of the proceeds will be donated in Darrell's name to DRAW, the Drag Racing Association of Women, the non-profit charity that helps injured racers and their families. Those ladies were phenomenal in the days and weeks following Darrell's death and together with Julie we selected them as beneficiaries of the book.

This was never about money for me. It was always my way of eulogizing Darrell and perhaps it was something that I had to do personally to help me deal with his loss.

The deal with JEGS.com is a real blessing as people can order the book and have it delivered right away. In most cases it will be in their hands the next day. I can't thank Jeg Jr., Troy, Mike, and John Coughlin enough for donating all of the time, cost, and effort involved in distributing the book for me. It means a lot.

I'm looking forward to giving DRAW a big check in the very near future.

Q: How do you handle the accident and subsequent fallout?

Geiger: I tell the story of the day exactly how I remember it and I write it first person. The chapter about the accident was the first one I wrote because it was very raw and fresh in my mind.

I follow it up with the incredible response from the racing community. The way people reacted to Darrell's death speaks volumes of how much he was loved and respected in our little world.

I get asked a lot about Julie Russell's pending lawsuits against NHRA and Goodyear. I don't discuss this matter in the book for a couple of reasons. First, I really have nothing to do with the lawsuits other than the fact I'm named as a witness in both cases and have undergone a few depositions with the lawyers involved in the cases. Secondly, the cases are still pending. They've been delayed and pushed back on the calendar more times than I can count. All that stuff will come out in the courts.

I wrote this book about Darrell. I wanted the content to be about him. I'd be thrilled if someone picked up the book 20 years from now, maybe some young kid coming up through the drag racing ranks, and they read the book and said to themselves that they should aspire to be like Darrell. If that happens even one time, I'll be satisfied.

Darrell Russell: Broad Smiles, Quarter-Miles
Geiger Media -- $24.95 US





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