Friday, April 27, 2018

RIP Russell E. Truelove

RIP Russell E. Truelove Russell Edward Truelove, 93, crossed the final finish line on April 25, 2018. He was born in Waterbury, Conn., on Jan. 14, 1925, to Russell and Edith (Richardson) Truelove. He attended Crosby High School. He served his country during World War II on the destroyer USS Isherwood. 

Russ Truelove talks with fans before the annual Legends Car Parade (Feb. 2018)
Russ Truelove talks with fans before the annual Legends Car Parade (Feb. 2018)

From his earliest memories, Russ was obsessed with cars and racing. He was one of the “living legends” who raced on the beach at Daytona during the formative years of NASCAR. His spectacular crash during the 1956 Grand National Race on the beach was documented as Life Magazine’s earliest coverage of a NASCAR event.

Truelove had qualified fifth in a ’56 Mercury, which sported the No. 226.

“A fellow by the name of Jimmy Reed was in a Chevy and was coming down the straightaway on the sand. He got ahead of me, so I thought as we approached the north turn out here, I’m going to pull a fast one and I’m going to go under him.

“Jimmy was running very close to the tide where it was nice hard, and I moved into the inside where it was nice and soft. That was a big mistake because once you start a little bit of fish tailing, you’re done. And that’s what happened to me, the front wheel dug in and I took a flip. I dumped and ended up in the hospital.”

His last Daytona race was in 1957, where he blew out the engine. He went on to race a few more times at northern tracks but his stock car career was soon over.

What did he think of the sport now?

“That’s a tough one to answer. The philosophy has changed. It’s no longer a show room car. They use the word Chevy and Ford, but those are race cars from the ground up. There isn’t any of the individual innovations like they used to have back when we ran. But that’s technology.”

Russ was a salesman who could sell anything. From Sikorsky Aircraft, with no prior experience in the field, he later moved on to Lear Inc. and then Plessey Airborne in the U.K. and several others.

He is survived by his daughter, Robin Truelove Stronk (John), of Westmoreland,; their children, Justin Stronk (Alicia) of Lee, Joy Fletcher (David) of Westmoreland, Amber Stronk of Newport, R.I.; and his great-granddaughter, Marin Stronk. Also a son, Eric Truelove of Madison, Wis. He was predeceased by his wife, JoAnn Longo Truelove; sisters, Lois Montville and Marilyn Hakli; and his grandson, John Fletcher Stronk.

A memorial service and celebration of his life are planned at Prospect Memorial Funeral Home in Prospect, Conn., at a date to be determined.

Russ in the driver’s seat at the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in Sept. 2009.
Russ in the driver’s seat at the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in Sept. 2009.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to any Veterans Administration cause.

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