Dick Trickle: A NASCAR Legend Dies
Being a fan of motor sports, I was saddened by the news of the passing of Dick Trickle. He was 71 and raced in many different divisions in the racing world. Apparently, he took his own life at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, NC.
A call believed to be from Trickle, was received in the Lincoln County Sherriff’s office stating, “There would be a dead body and it would be his.” Attempts to contact him back failed as no one answered the call.
When authorities arrived at the cemetery, Trickle’s body was found near his pickup, dead from an apparent self-inflicted wound. Tim Johnson from the Sherriff’s department stated that no foul play was suspected.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dick Trickle on his passing today,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. He added, “Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite. Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed.”
Trickle had a hole in his helmet for puffing on a cigarette and for exhaling the smoke and also kept a lighter in his racecar. During the Winston 500, he lit up a cigarette and drove with his knees during a caution lap. When the green flag waved to continue the race, he threw the butt out the window and commenced the race.
He was a very successful short track driver from Wisconsin, who joined the Winston Cup series, now named the Sprint Cup, in 1989, at 48 years old. That same year he earned rookie of the year; however, in 300 Cup races he never posted a win. In the Busch series, now called the Nationwide series, he won only two races.
His success was in the short track races he participated in all over the country. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, he had won more than 1,000 short-track races. He had won the regional ARTGO Challenge Series seven times and won the ASA AC-Delco Challenge Series in 1984 and 1985.
Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway said about him, “Dick Trickle was one of the best race drivers of the `80s, no one knew how many races he won. He was right there with Red Farmer and other short track drivers, the wins kind of got so big that they blended into each other. He was a product of the rich Wisconsin soil, where they race eight races a week in the season, and he could win all of them.”
Trickle was asked to join NASCAR in the 1980s, but decided not to because he was so successful on short tracks.
In the movie Days of Thunder, Trickle’s likeness was used and Tom Cruise played the main character named Cole Trickle.
His best career Cup points race was third, which he accomplished five times. He started racing in the Cup series in 1989, which was his best year, where he finished fifteenth in the points with six top five and nine top ten finishes in 28 starts. He won a non-points race called the Winston open in 1990 and got his only pole at Dover in 1991.
He had a stellar short track career and will be missed.
Image Credit: Associated Press