Ray Russell Jeep CJ-7 Desert Race Jeep Photos

by Wes Kibble on January 5, 2010

I just recieved a great email from a gentleman by the name of Brad Russell. Brad is the son of Ray Russell, who raced a Jeep CJ-7 in the 70’s and early 80’s. I can remember reading about Ray in the magazines when I was a kid. From what I remember, he almost dominated his class (modified 4×4) in the 70’s and had some great battles with Don Adams later on in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Brad, thank you for the email and photos that you sent me.

I am sad to say that Brad tells me that his dad passed away on May 2, 2007. What can you remember about Ray? Anyone have some good stories? Feel free to leave comments below.

Godspeed Ray.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

offroadaction January 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I recieved an email from my friend Craig from http://www.bajanorth.ca

“Ray Russell was the man. The Jeep I had was built by John Deetz to race against him. I have some mgazines with him and his jeeps in them. 401 powered but everything else was super light he pretty much dominated class 4 and that was in the days of 20 plus entries. He even led the either the Baja 500 or 1000 overall at one point in his Jeep before he balled it up. I think that was in 78. I will have a look and see what I can find. I believe he was also one of the first drivers to be sponsered by Goodyear and did some testing of the first Wrangler radial.”


David Brooks May 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm

When I worked at the shop in the early 70s I remember some “hand cut” tires from Goodyear showing up one day for the up coming race. Those tires were the first Goodyear Wrangler radials! Goodyear was a sponsor of Ray and when we got Don Adams car to prep Coors sponsored him. We always had a shop fridge FULL of Coors! Great times.


Todd Zuercher January 15, 2010 at 12:46 am


In the latest issue of Dirtsports, they report that Greg Adler of 4WPW recently purchased this Jeep and will be running it in the NORRA 1000.

Todd Z.


offroadaction January 15, 2010 at 8:37 am

That is awesome! That Jeep is a classic…good to see that it was bought by someone that can appreciate it’s history.


stuart russell (brads brother-rays other son) January 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I hope that they restore it to the condition that i remember it in 1978 when I was four years and it was so loud it scared the hell out of me!


offroadaction January 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

Stuart, good to hear from you. I know what you mean…my dads Jeep was the same way.


Brad Russell January 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Hey glad to see the pics made it. My Email said it failed. I also have a box of 31 slides i will get them scanned and Emailed to you. I remember going to brian chachuas jeep when i was 5-6 years old to get that jeep. And the electric fuel pumps coming on ment that it was about to get really really Loud. Thanks Brad.


offroadaction January 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Once again, thank you for sending these photos. Karen has also sent me a few. Please feel free to send more!


Brad Russell January 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Im glad other people can enjoy them.


Mark Heiden April 23, 2010 at 11:49 pm

My Brother Eric Heiden will be racing the Jeep in the Norra race with Greg Adler. They are keeping it in the Conejo Off Road Schwelling paint scheme. Eric raced against Ray and Don Adams et al.. in our 401 powered Gadzooks Scrambler. They should have a ball in Mexico!


offroadaction April 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Mark, I really wish I was going to the race, but I am moving across the country in two weeks and had to choose priorities. I look forward to seeing lots of photos! I remember the Gadzooks Scrambler well…what happened to it?


Mark Heiden April 27, 2010 at 12:11 am

I too hope they bring back some pics. I won’t go to Mexico any more with all the violence and crime down there. I miss going but won’t risk my life or my family in that way until the country changes.
We’re not sure where it ended up. It moved around to a couple owners in the 90’s then we lost track. Those were good ol days for sure!
Best of luck on your Move!


JODY ABBOTT November 15, 2010 at 4:25 am



David Brooks May 28, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Ray Russell was my friend! He hired me as a shop boy in 1977 at Rays Four Wheel Drive. I didn’t have any mechanical experience, didn’t even know how to hold a wrench but when I saw that White # 401 race Jeep I knew I wanted to be part of the team. I was 16 and Ray started me out sweeping the floor, cleaning tools and washing cars. One day he told me to go home and pack, he was taking me to Mexicali, to be part of the race team for the Mexicali 250. Can you imagine that, 16 years old and working with the best class 4 driver in the world, going to Mexico and helping with the race car (I was in charge of cleaning it, ha ha ha)! I went to a lot of races with Ray (Baja, the Mint, Riverside….the list goes on) and stayed in contact with him for years. It was very sad to hear about his passing. I want Karen, Brad and Stuart to know how much their dad meant to me, he was a very dear friend!


offroadaction May 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

David, thanks for your comments. I would have loved to meet Ray back in the day. Everything I have heard about him has been great!


Warren Baird July 9, 2010 at 1:40 am

Hey Brad ,Lot of memories huh? How many times did you go prerunning with Ray and I straped into the back seat of his 70 cj5. Ray and I built that Jeep in 3 months. Ho bunch of sleepless nights. But the Mint win made it all worth while. 4 laps without so much as a flat tire. Started the motor,loaded on to the trailer, headed to Vegas. Never driven till start line at the Mint. 4 laps I will never forget. That started a long list of sucess for us in that Jeep. That history was the reason for Ray and I rebuilding Don Adams Jeep in 78.79 was a big year for Don winning the championship that year. He struggled to finish a race before that. Brad we should talk soon .Like to know if Rays wishes were carried out.


Wes Kibble July 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Does anyone have more photos of Ray and his Jeep?


Brad Russell September 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Wow what memories that brought back. I remember sleeping in the back seat of that jeep while dad was pre-running. Also my brother has the ’78 chevy stepside that was the pre-runner. Plans are too restore it as best we can remember..


Warren September 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Hey Brad. Let me know when you do that I remember that “Toy Truck” pretty well.


Brad Russell October 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Warren. Stuart has it at home. Safe and sound. I think iknow where the grill gaurd and grille that was cut for the cibie lights.


Brad Russell October 2, 2010 at 10:26 pm
Brad Russell October 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm
Brad Russell October 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm
Mark Heiden October 3, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I remember taking a dip to cool off inside the waterboy water truck with Richie Dahn and his girlfreind at Riverside. Great Times!


Wes Kibble December 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm
Baltoro Jeeper January 12, 2011 at 1:23 am

Does anyone know whats the tire size and what axles is Ray running on these pics?


Warren Baird January 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm

The tire size was a 33 12.50 15s. We talked about running 35s but never did.
The front axle started out as a scout dana 30. Ran 2 races with it and figured this isnt going to work,broke the gears. Then a scout 44 but the drive shaft- pinion angle wasnt good. Went to a wagoneer 44.
The rear was always a summers brothers 9″ offset because of quadratrack. We custom built a straight thru tfc then built a centered housing.
Got anymore ?s just ask………….Thanks………….


BaltoroJeeper January 17, 2011 at 7:58 am

Many thanks for the reply. Its amazing to tap into your knowledge of Ray’s setup which is important for me as I am interested in a retro CJ Desert Racer Project….and if I ever get that up, I will definately paint it like Ray’s Jeep. Simply love the colors đŸ™‚

Some other things that keep me up looking at the pics are:
1. How exactly are those shocks mounted at the top? They seem to all be dropping onto the diff at the bottom.
2. Did the quadratac help in desert handling in any significant way or was it because of some other reasons that it was there.
3. What was the gearing on the diffs?

Thanks a million and a half!


Kenny Ham May 16, 2011 at 8:09 am

Hello to all,
My name is Kenny Ham. I just stumbled onto these photos. I saw the names Brad, Stuart, Karen, Warren Baird in the forum. Man, I went back in a time warp! Ray and my folks, Clairmont (Hamie) and Gretchen Ham were some of the small group of people that oranized and started the Hill Surfers 4-Wheel Drive club in the Elmira/Horseheads, NY area. I lived with Ray, Kathy and their kids for six months and worked at Ray’s 4-Wheel, the summer/fall of 1980. I have fond memories of that time and experience in my life. Ray was my “HERO” growing up as kid. He demanded a lot of himself and of others around him!! I would like to stop back and visit with you folks at this site if I could. Thanks for the memories…. Kenny Ham


Wes Kibble May 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for the comments Kenny!


Greg Hatley April 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I did’nt know Ray passed ,so sorry does not express. If you don’t remember me I’m “THE HAT” ,formerly Pioneer Paint And Body, As Well As Emmetts Paint And Body , Who Not Only Painted Jeeps For Don Adams ,But For Big Ray Himself ,Also I Painted Some Tow Trucks For Ray.Back In The Day ,These Guy’s Truely Were The Best, Ray Was A Very Maticulous And Paticular Person When It Came To His Rides, But If You Knew Where His Heart Was ,He Was Easy To Satisfy. I’ll Miss You Big Brother ,Peace


Kenny Ham December 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Hello Friends of Ray Russell,
I was up to my folks and came across some photos of the 1979 Mint 400. I would like to post them once I figure out how. I will have someone help me with that soon. Thanks, Kenny


Brad February 28, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Well… Warren has got the jeep back. We went down Sunday February 24th.
I got the opportunity to ride down with Warren and pick ithe up and even drive it. Holy crap!!


Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: