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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Area Scoreboard

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific 76, Union 57

Saturday, Dec. 20

Sullivan Shootout

Owensville vs. Rockwood Summit, 11:30 a.m.

Lindbergh 67, St. Clair 46

Jefferson City vs. Jackson, 2:30 p.m.

Washington 56, Lutheran South 54

Poplar Bluff 59, Borgia 49

Sullivan vs. Affton, 7 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James 72, New Haven 21

*Union 49, Pacific 48

Friday, Dec. 19

Francis Howell 55, Washington 48

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia 62, Sullivan 35

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

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