As one of the competitions which require strength, extreme levels of concentration and quick reflexes, touring car racing is has its drivers at their peaks until their mid-thirties. Russell Ingall is not one of them.
The London-born Australian, who retired in 2015 at the age of 50 is a true legend of V8 Supercars, the most extreme touring car series in the world. His racing career started early when he was just twelve, and like most drivers, he made his first steps in karting. After winning both Junior and Senior Australian championships, Ingall moved to Europe, where he continued competing in go-karts.
As a late bloomer, already in his mid-20s, Ingall was racing in Australian Formula Ford championship from 1987 to 1990, and his two best results came in 1989 when he finished as the runner-up, and 1990 when he was crowned a series champion. That year, Ingall co-drove a Holden Commodore VL at the Bathurst 1000, driving for Bob Forbes Racing. After conquering the Australian Formula Ford series in a Van Diemen formula, he moved to the United Kingdom, where he finished the 1991 British Formula Ford season on second, behind Marc Goossens. In 1992, Russell drove in two series: during the northern summer, he drove in F3 Germany, and then moved south, to New Zealand, claiming the New Zealand Formula Ford championship with ten wins out of twelve races.
Video: V8 Hot lap 2015 Bathurst with Russell Ingall
For 1993, Ingall returned to Europe with the determination to claim the title he missed in 1991, and he did it in great style, with 13 victories out of 16 races. To this day, Ingall is a Formula Ford record holder when it comes to scoring the most wins in one season. From there, the Enforcer traveled around the world, participating in various national formula competitions such as F3 in Japan, Germany and UK, Macau GP, Indian Madras, and the Monaco GP in F3 class. In 1995, Russell drove in British Formula Renault Championship, scoring third overall. However, his biggest success that year came in Australia, on the Bathurst 1000 race, where he and Larry Perkins went on to win the race after climbing from the very last place to the top of the grid!
That huge recovery paved Ingall's way to racing in V8 Supercars full-time. He signed with Perkins' team and started competing in Australian Touring Car Championship, driving different variations of Holden Commodore. During those seven years he with Perkins, Ingall managed to snatch third place overall at the end of the 1997 season, winning one more Bathurst 1000 race, and one runner-up finish in 1998. In 1999, ATCC changed its name to Shell Championship Series, and Ingall was again the runner-up. The following year didn't go well for him, but he returned as the runner-up in 2001 as well. After finishing the maiden 2002 V8 Supercars season with Castrol Perkins Racing, for 2003, Ingall moved to Stone Brothers Racing and started racing Ford Falcons. With SBR, he was the runner-up to his teammate Marcos Ambrose in 2004 and he conquered the 2005 V8 Supercars season, winning his first and only V8 Supercars championship title. In 2006, he missed the title due to his car's bad performance in the closing races of the season.
During his most successful years in V8 Supercars, Russell Ingall earned his nickname, The Enforcer, because of his on-track aggression and off-track outspoken persona. His enforcing performance reached its peak at Eastern Creek in 2003 when he pushed Mark Skaife into a wall. The crash resulted in a fierce rivalry between the drivers and this photo that sadly isn't as widespread and famous as it deserves to be.
Ingall's affiliation with Stone Brothers Racing and Ford ended in 2008. That year, he signed a contract with Paul Morris Motorsport and returned to racing Holdens, but sadly with no memorable season finishes. In 2012, Ingall signed with Walkinshaw Racing, but he decided to spend 2014 V8 Supercars, his last full schedule season driving for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
In 2015, Ingall joined his former rival Mark Skaife in Fox Sports' V8 Supercars coverage booth but decided to appear in three V8 Supercars events. The first was Wilson Security Sandown 500 where he and Jack Perkins finished ninth after starting from the twenty-fourth place. Ingall drove one more race with Perkins a replacement for injured Holden Racing Team driver James Courtney. It was the Bathurst 1000, where he and Perkins finished eleventh. His appearance was Castrol Gold Coast 600 where he again replaced an injured driver. This time, it was Chaz Mostert, Prodrive Racing Australia's top driver.
With a total of 583 starts, 27 wins and 90 podium finishes, the loved-or-hated Aussie veteran is a true legend of V8 Supercars, a series that is gaining popularity outside of Australia, especially due to its uncompromising and exciting racing. As one of the drivers who understands that crazy and unpredictable series the best, Russell Ingall is certainly going to make it even more popular as its presenter and worldwide ambassador.