Former national champion Russell Norden has died, aged 67, after a short battle with cancer.
In an era when open-wheelers in general and small capacity categories in particular struggled to maintain their previous premier position in the sport, he graduated to Australian Formula 2 and was a front-runner in the 1980 and 1981 national championships.
He helped fund his racing by working as one of the late Peter Wherrett's advanced driving instructors. Norden then coached students in the art of high performance driving in his latter years.
Norden retired from active competition in 1982 after a cameo debut in the opening round of the Australian Drivers' Championship.
Nevertheless he scored a championship point, driving an unsorted Ralt RT4.
Thereafter he pursued a successful career in medical publishing, specialising in advertising sales – a field to which his ebullient character was ideally suited.
In recent years Norden returned to the racetrack spasmodically, with typically spirited appearances in Historic Formula Ford races in borrowed cars.
He also competed in Regularity time trials, driving his road registered Porsche 911 ST replica.
Norden was Driving Standards Officer for the NSW Production Car Championship for the past few seasons.
Despite his involvement with tin-tops, he was a passionate campaigner for open wheel racing with the notable exception of the CAMS-promoted Australian Formula 4 Championship.
He believed strongly that it was inappropriate for CAMS to use members' funds to underwrite a national race series, especially one that duplicated the existing Formula Ford national series.
Despite being a self-confessed luddite with computers (in fact anything technical) Norden learned to use social media to lambast CAMS senior management over Formula 4.
He also took the Formula Ford Association executive to task for its inadequate defence against CAMS.
Norden was due to be reunited with his Formula Ford series-winning Mawer 004, which is being restored by long-time friend and 1980s Formula Ford front-runner Geoff Walters, at the category's 50th anniversary later this year.
Norden is survived by his partner Clare, son Alex, and daughter Katherine.