Jim Russell was born in Downham Market, Norfolk. After serving with the RAF, he became a garage owner aided by his brother Peter. He started racing at 32 after a vist to Snetterton.
In 1952 he bought a Cooper Mk VI JAP which was subsequently fitted with a Norton engine. And, when he managed to aquire the services of ace engine builder Steve Lancefield, Jim began to win regularly.
In 1954, Jim acquired a Cooper Mk VIII and in 1955 he received works support and a Mk IX.
Jim's team mate and best friend for much of his career was Ivor Bueb but he raced against, and mostly beat, the best including Don Parker and Stuart Lewis Evans.
Jim became one of the best 500cc Formula 3 drivers ever and he won the British Championship in 1955, 56 and 57. Between 1953 and 1959 he won 64 Formula 3, 11 Formula 2 and 6 sports car races. He also took 22 second places and 19 third places resulting in an overall record of 121 top three places out of 135 starts. Jim set over 50 fastest laps and 20 lap records.
At Montlhery in October 1955, Jim also set new class G records for 50, 100 and 200 km, 50 and 100 miles and 1 hour, all in an 1,100cc Cooper Climax.
In 1959 he had a bad crash at Le Mans in his Cooper Monaco, and though he returned briefly to the cockpit in 1961 to prove he still had what it took, he retired.
In 1956 he set up the first motor racing school at Snetterton and rest as they say is history.
In 1966, Jim and his crew was responsible for the cars and much of the action in John Frankenheimer's film, Grand Prix, starring Yves Montand and James Garner. The team followed the real Formula 1 circus for the season using modified Formula Juniors made to look like Formula 1 cars. The result was a successful film which has become a classic.