Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle found dead after apparent suicide in N.C. cemetery
Published Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm EDT Last updated 12 minutes and 20 seconds ago
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Dick Trickle, who made 303 starts in NASCAR’s Cup series and was known as a short-track legend throughout the Midwest, died Thursday afternoon from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office news release. He was 71.
According to the news release, Trickle called the Lincoln County Communications Center from the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C. at about 12:02 p.m. ET.
He told the operator that “there would be a dead body and it would be” him. The call center tried to return the call but did not get an answer. Emergency units arrived on the scene and found Trickle’s body lying near his pickup truck.
Trickle, who was from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. and raced throughout the Midwest, became somewhat of a cult hero on SportsCenter because of his name. He had lived in North Carolina since the early 1990s.
Current drivers who competed against Trickle were shocked by his death.
"Say it's not so. Sad news about a racing legend. Dick Trickle," tweeted Mark Martin, who raced against Trickle throughout the Midwest.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace said he owed much of his early success to Trickle.
“I’m in 100 percent shock. Dick Trickle was my mentor," Wallace said. "When I was short-track racing, I would call him every Monday morning and he would always help me with race setups and stuff. He and I had such a good time telling little stories, but he was the guy that taught me almost everything in the American Speed Association. And he was the guy that I battled right to the end for my 1983 ASA championship."
Kenny Wallace, who grew up racing around the Midwest with his brothers Rusty and Mike, tweeted that Trickle taught him some valuable lessons.
Trickle, who is reported to have more than 1,200 feature wins to his credit on short track throughout the Midwest, began competing in NASCAR’s Cup series full time in 1989 and ran the majority of races from 1989-1998. The 1989 Cup rookie of the year, Trickle had 15 top-10 finishes and finished third five times.
"He kicked butt everywhere he went," Martin tweeted.
"I barely beat the guy that taught me everything," Rusty Wallace said. "He was a legend. A man that’d won over a thousand short track races, was one of the most winning short-trackers in America, was a role model to many short-track racers coming up. Could just do magic with the racecar and he taught me so much about racing. My success in the ASA and what Trickle taught me is what got me into NASCAR."
Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted: "Dick Trickle was a racer's racer and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Among the team owners he drove for in a Cup career that spanned from 1970-2002 were Stavola Brothers Racing, Cale Yarborough, Larry Hedrick, Butch Mock, Bud Moore, Dean Myers and Junie Donlavey.
Trickle also had 158 starts in what is now the Nationwide Series from 1984-2001 with two victories, at Hickory Speedway in 1997 and at Darlington in 1998.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dick Trickle on his passing today," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement. "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.”
"So sad to hear about former #NASCAR driver and family friend Dick Trickle," a tweet from Wood Brothers Racing read. "Just a sad sad deal all around. No other way to put it.."