Crewing along with his older brother Rollie on a 1953 Ford Stockcar driven by Murray Bowering in 1968 started Russ Lejeune’s involvement in auto racing. Other crew member stints followed and in 1971, Russ decided it was time to really get involved and at the mid point of that season he purchased the Hitchcox family-owned #17 1963 Mercury Meteor Super Stock which Cliff Hitchcox had driven. With a number change, Russ drove the car for the remainder of the year with his performance earning him the Super Stock “Rookie of the Year” award. He drove the car again the following year and finished 13th in the points race.
Russ then began helping out on Geoff Vantreight’s #7 “Daffodil Special” Super Modified and from 1975 to 1977 he filled the role of crew chief on the car which carried driver Roy Smith to many Northwest victories. In 1978, Russ and Roy moved over to the Late Model Stockcar class and that year they won Western’s “Canada 200” race. In 1980 and ’81, this team captured consecutive “NASCAR Winston West” season championship titles. Paying tribute to Russ, Roy said, “He’s the best fabricator I know – also one of the best crew chiefs I have worked with. Because of the many innovative changes he made and the thought he put into things, I won many more races. By his preparation and attention to detail, he made me look good!”.
In the early 1990’s, Russ joined forces with Neil Montgomery and they built an I.M.C.A. Modified for Neil’s son Trevor to race and in 1992 they ventured into dirt track sprintcar racing, again with Trevor at the wheel, and competed at Cassidy Speedway south of Nanaimo. Russ and Neil subsequently built a 2nd car for Neil’s other son Jeff in 1995 and continued to run both cars at Cassidy, later switching to racing on pavement at which they had good success throughout the Pacific Northwest. A highlight of this time occurred in 1997 when they captured the “Daffodil Cup” at Western which won them the “NSSRA (“Northwest Sprintcar/Super Modified Racing Association”) Season Points Championship”.
A well-respected fabricator and innovator, Russ along with his staff at “Lejeune Engineering” built many racecars and their components over the years which helped to secure countless wins and good finishes for many racers which earned Russ Lejeune a well-earned spot in the annals of Island auto racing history.