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Scott Russell talks Daytona, career highlights at annual fundraiser

March 21, 2013

Yamaha's Bob Starr introduces Scott Russell at the 25th Annual Yamaha AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Breakfast at Daytona, presented by Motul.

Motul's Dave Wolman and Russell.

Starr, interviewer Ben Cheatwood, Russell and American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation Chairman Jeff Heininger.

The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame is pleased to thank its sponsors and guests for a successful Bike Week tribute to Mr. Daytona, Scott Russell, as the featured speaker for the 25th Annual Yamaha AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Breakfast at Daytona, presented by Motul.

Yamaha AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Breakfast at Daytona, presented by Motul photo gallery

Nearly 200 supporters enjoyed a morning of great stories from Russell's career that touched on everything from his five Daytona 200 wins to textbook rental car fiascos to an infamous evening in downtown Daytona and more.

The breakfast kicked off with an introduction by Yamaha's Bob Starr, who kidded Russell a bit by offering interviewer Ben Cheatwood a book on "How to Speak Southern," so that people would have no problem understanding Russell's famed Georgia accent.

"I kid, of course," Starr said. "We're just pleased to count Scott as part of the Yamaha family of champions."

For his part, Russell was at turns the brash Daytona 200 winner and racetrack star he was known for during his racing career, and the more thoughtful and thankful TV commentator and esteemed former racer he is today.

When you were on top of the racing world as Russell was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was tough not to enjoy the success.

"For whatever reason, and I don't know why, every time, I just knew I was going to win the Daytona 200 when I turned off the interstate onto U.S. 92 in Daytona on race weekend," Russell said. "There's just something about this place that always clicked for me."

Daytona clicked so well, in fact, that not only did Russell win the Daytona 200 five times on two different brands, the two second-place finishes kept him out of first place by a combined total of 0.06 seconds.

Russell was thankful for the support of the people and companies that had supported him over the years, including Yamaha, Muzzy Kawasaki and Motul. "I couldn't have done any of that without them, and I really appreciate it," he said.

One audience question from Motul's Dave Wolman on the subject of rental cars drew plenty of laughter from the crowd with Russell's response.

It was an innocent mistake, Russell noted, but when he climbed into a the passenger seat of a rental car with Rob Muzzy at the wheel after meeting at an airport near a racetrack, Russell inadvertently told Muzzy to take the wrong exit from the parking lot—across a set of one-way tire shredding barriers.

"We went over it, and sure enough—boom—the front tires just blew," Russell said. "Then he just looked over at me, and drove the back wheels over the same thing—boom, Then we were just sitting there in the parking lot on the car rims.

"I had to buy him four new tires after that one!" Russell said.

Then there was the time Russell was a high-profile no-show at the Daytona 200 after getting in an altercation at a Daytona nightclub the night before the race. Telling what can only be described as "the rest of the story," Russell noted, laughing throughout, that the altercation started after a guy at the bar took exception to Mr. Daytona being in the establishment. Things escalated, and finished with Russell taking a punch in the parking lot that broke his jaw.

In the end, he says, it was probably for the best, as his chance of winning the race the next day were not in his favor, anyway. "Truth be told, I'd rather get beat up downtown the night before, than come out here and get beat up on the track," he laughed.

Through it all, Russell said, he never realized he would one day wind up in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. "It's humbling," he said. "I never thought something like that was possible, that I'd be on TV as a commentator or sitting in this chair right here today. It's pretty amazing, really."

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