Stars Of NASCAR Remember Dick Trickle
CONCORD, N.C. — For many in the NASCAR garage, the fact that Dick Trickle is gone is still sinking in.
Trickle, the legendary short track driver from Wisconsin who is believed to have won more than 1,200 races in his career, took his own life Thursday in North Carolina’s Lincoln County. He was 71 years old at the time of his death.
Several active NASCAR drivers shared their thoughts and memories of Trickle Friday prior to NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Man, Dick was a legend, you know especially up in Wisconsin short track racing where I grew up,” said Matt Kenseth, who is from Cambridge, Wis. “Really, I think Brad (Keselowski) touched on it too, but really that era of stock car racing up in that area really died with him. It’s just crazy, surprising news.
“The last time I saw him was at Slinger (Speedway) last year. We won the Nationals and he always went up there for years and years. He actually created the Slinger Nationals with Wayne Erickson, the guy that owned the track. I talked to him for a while — it was right after the news came out that I was moving to Joe Gibbs Racing – and he kind of peaked in the trailer afterwards and of course he asked if we had any beer in there and he came in there. Man, we sat in there for two hours last July and that was the last time I saw him,” Kenseth said.
Mark Martin, who raced against Trickle for years in the old American Speed Ass’n and later in NASCAR, spoke at length about Trickle on Friday.
“Dick made himself a mentor to many, Rusty (Wallace), myself, Alan Kulwicki — you know we wouldn’t have been the racers that we were when we got here had we not come under his influence,” Martin said. “Of course, you have to change, after a while you have to adapt to circumstances as well. I was proud of who we were and the racers we were. For the influence that he had on us and the etiquette and the way he raced. He raced us real hard on the race track, but off the race track, he was very free with parts or advice — he gave freely.
“He was the one that told me, and this is kind of corny, but it isn’t when you’re 18 or 19 years old. He told me in order to finish first, first you must finish. That stuck with me always,” Martin said.