Russell Neil Pierson, 67, of Mineola, Missouri died on Friday, July 31, 2020, at his home surrounded by family.
Russell was born the second child of Kathryn Irene (Bond) and Stanley Edwin Pierson on September 4, 1952 in Mexico, Missouri. Russell grew up working with his father and older brother on their farm and in the family business, S.E. Pierson and Sons GMC. It was obvious from a young age that Russell was mechanically inclined. Before he was old enough to attend school, he was driving junkyard cars around the farm, running several off into the lake for fun. By the time Russell was a teenager, he had built several muscle cars and had started drag racing around town and at nearby racetracks including Mid America Raceway. With the aid of his father, he left school at the age of 15 so he could attend GM Technical Center in Michigan. Although he wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license, he completed the training program as the top student in his class.
Upon returning home, he continued working for his father while building and racing drag cars across the Midwest. In his 1971 Corvette, he set multiple drag speed records. In 1974 he set a World Racing Record on the I-55 Dragway, and he was recognized by the International Hot Rod Association for setting records at Tennessee’s Bristol Dragway in 1975 and 1976, and at Indiana’s Bunker Hill Drag Strip in 1977.
In 1971 he welcomed his first daughter, Jo-Lynn, followed by Brandy Marie in 1977. He made his home on the family farm in New Florence as he continued to work at the garage and pursued his racing career. In the early 1980’s racing moved to the forefront when he built his first pulling tractor, Blue Thunder. He created Blue Thunder with a turbine jet engine, and the twin pulling truck, Blue Thunder II, soon followed. Russell was a member of the SRO/Pace Team and was on a cross country touring circuit which also included popular racers such as Art Arfons’ Green Monster and Bob Chandlers’ Bigfoot. He was featured on the cover of Full Pull and Power Pull magazines among others and was the point leader multiple years.
Russell moved his home and shop to Mineola and went on to be a regional sales representative for Webco-Pacific truck bodies and built many semi-truck sized car haulers for his racing colleagues, motor-cross teams, a traveling evangelical group, and a few that were used as luxury RV’s. He was active in the Mineola Community Center revitalization and fund-raising activities. This led to his becoming President of the Board and ‘honorary’ Mayor of Mineola for many years. When Russell decided to retire from larger projects, he restored classic cars, built custom trucks, and completed custom restorations. He also enjoyed attending car shows with his show truck and traveling to auto auctions across the country. Russell loved sharing stories about all of his travels, enjoying a cold Bud Light, and spending time with family and friends… especially when good food was involved.
Russell is survived by his daughter, Brandy Marie Pierson Howard, son-in-law Jeffrey Howard and grandson Braden Atterberry, and daughter Jo-Lynn Pierson and children, special friend Gabriele Selbert, brother H. Alan Pierson and wife Janet, aunt Elizabeth Smith, nieces Cheryl Edington and husband Greg Edington, Lynda Pagnotta and husband George Pagnotta, nephew Jason Pierson and wife Heather Pierson, cousins, and great nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held at 4:30 PM on Friday, August 14, 2020, at the Schlanker Funeral Home in Montgomery City, MO. Mr. Russell Burton will officiate. The family will receive friends on Friday, August 14, 2020 from 1:30 PM until the time of service at the Schlanker Funeral Home in Montgomery City, MO. Honorary casketbearers include Elston Schnitzler, Jim Robinson, Ronnie Reagan, Bob Brandenburg, Denny “Stuffy” Smith, and Kevin Busken.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Siteman Cancer Center Discovery Fund, c/o Schlanker Funeral Home, 207 Danville Road, Montgomery City, MO 63361.
Condolences may be made to www.schlankerfuneralhome.com