Ranking The Top Ten SuperBike Champions - No. 9
NEWS January 21, 2014
Photo by Larry Lawrence
Written by Chris Martin:
January 21, 2014 - Simultaneously easy-going and feisty, flashy and humble, Scott Russell stands as one of the most popular AMA Pro SuperBike Champions the sport has ever produced.
While Russell's enduring claim to fame remains his historic five Daytona 200 wins -- triumphs which rightfully earned him the moniker 'Mr. Daytona' -- his career exploits extend much further than just the checkered flags he took on the high banks.
The charismatic Georgian quickly rose up through the ranks, missing out on the '89 SuperBike title by a narrow five-point margin in just his second full season as an AMA Pro. He jumped ship from Yoshimura Suzuki to Muzzy Kawasaki the following year and kicked off an epic five-year (plus) stint on green machines.
Russell came up just short of the AMA Pro SuperBike crown again in '91, falling two points shy, all while notching up every single 750 SuperSport race win available en route to the second of three consecutive undercard titles.
Scott enjoyed a tremendous 1992 campaign, which he opened in style by claiming the first of his Daytona 200 victories that would eventually come to define him. He carried that momentum through the season, earning the AMA Pro SuperBike title and snatching three World Superbike podiums in wild card duty.
Russell graduated to WSBK competition full-time the following season and won the world title in his first attempt, becoming the first and only man to win the title for Kawasaki until Tom Sykes earned his championship this past season. In the process, Russell demonstrated that he would back down from no man, proving the perfect foil to Britain's caustic Superbike superhero, Carl Fogarty.
As a result of his '92 AMA Pro SuperBike championship and '93 Superbike World Championship triumph, Russell stands as one of an elite group of five riders to have taken the title in both series (the others being fellow racing legends Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Troy Corser, and Ben Spies).
Despite his status as a global icon, Russell never forgot where he came -- and he regularly reminded both the fans and his former rivals of that fact. During his '93 world title season, Russell also found the time to return to his roots to win the AMA Pro SuperBike national at Loudon.
In '94, Russell finished as the World Superbike runner-up -- while also winning the Daytona 200 and the Road Atlanta National. While 1995 would eventually prove to be a tumultuous season that saw him split w/Rob Muzzy and jump ship to the Lucky Strike Suzuki 500GP outfit -- it started in what was quickly becoming standard Russell style -- with yet another Daytona 200 triumph.
While Russell's one-and-a-half seasons in Grand Prix are not remembered as an overwhelming success, a reexamination of the fact shows that the Georgian actually acquitted himself quite nicely. Despite learning the ropes on a two-stroke 500cc racebike that was not exactly the most fancied machine in the paddock, he earned eight top-five finishes in 19 races, including a pair of podiums, and took fast lap honors at the 1996 British GP.
Russell returned to World Superbike in 1997 -- this time with Yamaha, who he would repay with his fourth and fifth D200 victories.
Five of Russell's 14 career AMA Pro SuperBike race wins came on the big stage of the Daytona 200 and those victories remain the stuff of legends. He won the series' most prestigious event in just about every way imaginable, from flat-out domination to photo finish wins to the unthinkable -- coming from behind following an early-race crash.
These days Russell remains a constant presence in the AMA Pro Road Racing paddock, both off the track where he serves as a color commentator and rider mentor, and on the track, where he's represented by his Screaming Chief helmet design, which is frequently sported by riders inspired by his unique blend of style and substance.
Next time: #8…
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