The Russell family – Wayne and his sons Drew and Aaron – have pulled off a remarkable performance in their first endeavours in the World Racing League – powered by Hagerty Motorsports.
The Australians were participants in two eight hour races on consecutive days at the Circuit of The Americas and finished fourth in one and second in the other.
“If you told me a couple of months ago that we would get this result, I would have said you were dreaming,” said Wayne.
The trio raced in the outright GT4 class in a recently purchased Mercedes AMG GT two and a half months ago. It had been looked after by DD Autosports in Houston and the Russells were keen to continue that arrangement with the fully rebuilt car as they planned this venture.
Drew and Wayne finished equal first in the 2022 Australian Production Car Championship with Aaron third, all sharing the same Class X BMW.
“We decided not to run this year with the introduction of GT4, we did not want to run seventh, eighth or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I think GT4 is great and is the future in Australia.
“So, we came into COTA and you wouldn't believe it, we are sharing a garage with RCR and Will Brown.
Their cars had gearbox problems with 49th and a DNF in Saturday's race, and it didn't go much better on Sunday with a 43rd and disqualification due to the event's rules on contact.
Meanwhile the enduro inexperienced DD Autosports team were finding their way through the pitstops with refuelling and driver changeovers in the first race. The Russells finished two laps behind the winning NFC Motorsports team in the only other Mercedes in the race.
The fastest laps determined the starting order for the following day's second eight hour. The Russell Mercedes started sixth and finished just 2.5s behind NFC in second place.
“We made a bad pitstop call at the first Safety Car and it put us behind a lap. If not for that I think we would have won the race. The Americans were blown away by our performance.
“They do it so well over here. At the presentation they include the whole team, not just the drivers.
“Also, I am very proud of my kids as they drove so well, five to six seconds faster a lap faster than me.”
The car will remain in Houston and the Russells are looking to do two or three meetings a year at places like COTA and Road America. “These cars are race cars and are meant to do these long distance races, eight hours or more, four at a minimum. We did two thirds of an Australian race season in one weekend!”