Remembering Motorsports Photographer Russ Lake

Perhaps Russ Lake’s most well-known photo, in Aug. 1965, A.J. Foyt putting his Sheraton-Thompson Meskowski/Offy — an upright dirt car — on the pole at Milwaukee against a field of low-slung, rear-engine cars. Russ Lake photo courtesy of Steve Zautke

By David Linden

Russ Lake, a well-known and prominent Wisconsin-based racing photographer, died on Friday September 17th at the age of 85.

Lake’s high-quality work was featured in various regional, national and

International auto racing publications including Vintage Motorsport magazine.

Lake was thoroughly passionate about his work. His love or all forms of motorsports was never ending as he spent more than 60 years behind the lens amassing a photo archive of what he once conservatively estimated as consisting of more than 500,000 negatives that captured a wide range of competition ranging from sprint cars and midgets to NASCAR and Indycar.

Lake began his association with auto racing as a boy, traveling to race tracks with his father Ted Lake, who served as a Deputy Chief Observer for the United States Auto Club, former sanctioning body for the Indianapolis “500.” He was able to hone his skills as a racing photographer under the tutelage of veteran racing photographer Armin Krueger.

Lake was injured in May of 1971 when just after the start of the Indianapolis “500,” the pace car struck a photographer’s stand at the south end of the pit lane and Lake suffered a badly broken left hip in the mishap.

Lake was a fixture on the Wisconsin racing scene as he and his camera regularly patrolled racetracks across the country, both near and far. His kindness touched many and he truly was a man dedicated to the sport of motor racing.