NASCAR Legend Dick Trickle dead at 71 - The Missourian: Sports

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NASCAR Legend Dick Trickle dead at 71

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Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 9:51 am | Updated: 10:09 am, Fri May 17, 2013.

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — There is that lasting image of Dick Trickle in the Winston 500 lighting up a cigarette while driving his stock car with his knees during a caution lap.

He places the cigarette through a hole he carved in his helmet for a quick toke and exhales.

The green flag hits and out the window goes the cigarette butt and back to racing goes Trickle.

"Dick always had a cigarette lighter in his car," said fellow NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine.

Trickle was a unique driver with a unique name who found cult-like status before his death Thursday.

Trickle, whose larger-than-life personality and penchant for fun won him legions of fans despite a lack of success beyond the nation's small tracks, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said. He was 71.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said authorities received a call believed to be from Trickle, who said "there would be a dead body and it would be his." Authorities tried to call the number back, but no one answered.

Trickle's body was found near his pickup truck at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C., about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. Sheriff's Lieutenant Tim Johnson said foul play was not 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. "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 earned his reputation as a successful short track driver before joining the Winston Cup series and earning rookie of the year in 1989 at age 48.

He competed in more than 300 Cup races. Although he never won a Cup race and won only two Busch Series races, Trickle earned cult status in the 1990s.

Former ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann would regularly mention where Trickle finished after talking about each NASCAR race. It caught on and drew snickers from race fans around the country.

Bodine said there was only one way to describe Trickle, a native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

"Fun," Bodine said. "Just plain fun."

Trickle was never one to be told how to live his life.

"It's all just sad," Bodine said in a telephone interview. "We don't understand why he would do this. Hopefully we will all learn why he would do that. There was something that triggered him to take his own life. We are all really saddened by this in the racing community."

NASCAR does not keep track of short-track records, but according to the (Milwaukee) Journal-Sentinel, Trickle won more than 1,000 short-track races throughout the country during his prime. He was a seven-time winner in the regional ARTGO Challenge Series in the late 1970s and mid '80s. Trickle also captured the ASA AC-Delco Challenge Series in back-to-back years in 1984-85 before turning to Cup racing.

"Dick Trickle was one of the best race drivers of the '80s, no one knew how many races he won," said Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "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."

Wheeler said he asked Trickle to try NASCAR in the 1980s, but Trickle initially declined because he was so successful on the short track circuit.

"He could not make enough money then as he could on those Midwest tracks, so he deferred," Wheeler recalled. "For a guy who really won at least 700 races, I could see why. In those days, unless you were a top Cup driver, you couldn't win enough money to overcompensate for that."

Trickle eventually did move to NASCAR, settling into Iron Station, N.C., where he lived for more than 20 years. Bodine said Trickle was full of stories and popular because of it.

"People everywhere knew his name," Bodine said. "That's why they used his likeness in that movie 'Days of Thunder.' He was such a character."

The main character in that popular niche racing movie, played by Tom Cruise, was named Cole Trickle.

Bodine said that a few years ago he had to back out of a celebrity cruise for patients who were on kidney dialysis. He asked Trickle to fill in.

"He made such an impression on people on that ship that everyone wanted to know when Dick was coming back," Bodine said. "They loved him. They tell me he was the last man to leave most of the bars on the ship and I believe it."

Bodine also recalled inviting Trickle to compete in one of his bobsled events in 2004 at Lake Placid, N.Y.

He said Trickle went down the first time and crashed. After being cleared by doctors to continue, Trickle tried again and crashed in the same place.

"They were doing interviews with him on TV and he was like, 'I don't know what happened, I did the exact same thing I did the first time,'" Bodine said. "And we're all looking at him like, 'Hey Dick, maybe that was the problem.'"

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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*Daniel Boone 14, Pacific 3

*Washington 20, Sullivan 5

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*Washington 11, St. Peters 1

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*Washington 11, St. Charles 0

Friday, July 4

*Pacific at St. Peters    1:30 p.m.

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*Washington 20, Pacific 1

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*Washington 11, Warrenton 2

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Washington 9, Creve Coeur 7

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Saturday, July 5

*Daniel Boone at Pacific (DH)    10 a.m.

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*Washington 16, Pacific 1

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Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

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Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

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G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

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G13 Elsberry def. St. Peters

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Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia next week.

 

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Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

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At Elsberry Khoury League Field

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G15 If-Needed Game — Washington vs. St. Charles, 1 p.m.

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Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    8 a.m.

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    6 p.m.

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    8 a.m.

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

Great Midwest Football League

July 5

Missouri Cyclones 22, Midwest Chargers 14

July 12

Missouri Cyclones at Missouri Valley Pitbulls, St. Charles High School, 5 p.m.

Ninth District Standings

July 1, 2014

District Games Only

Senior Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

West    11    2

Daniel Boone 262    9    3

Washington 218    11    5

St. Charles 312    9    5

Elsberry 226    8    5

Wentzville 323    5    5

St. Peters 313    7    7

Pacific 320    3    10

Warrenton 122    0    10

Sullivan 18    1    12

2014 Final Standings

Junior Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

Elsberry 226    20    2

Union 297    19    3

Washington 218    18    4

St. Charles 312    14    8

St. Peters 313    12    10

Wentzville 323    12    10

Hannibal 55    10    12

New Haven 366    9    13

Daniel Boone 262    5    14

Warrenton 122    3    16

Pacific 320    3    15

Sullivan 18    0    20

Freshman Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

St. Charles 312    20    0

Washington 218    17    3

Hannibal 55    16    4

Elsberry-Winfield 226    14    6

Wentzville 323    9    11

Warrenton 122    8    12

West    7    13

St. Peters 313    6    14

New Haven 366    5    15

Pacific 320    4    16

Elsberry 226    4    16

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