Drivers Remember Trickle

Dick Trickle

The 1989 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, Trickle made more than 300 starts in NASCAR’s top series as well as scoring a pair of Nationwide Series victories. (Photo: Getty Images)

The shocking death of Dick Trickle has impacted several drivers around the NASCAR community.

The popular Trickle died Thursday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but left his mark on both the short track racing world as well as NASCAR. The 1989 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, Trickle made more than 300 starts in NASCAR’s top series as well as scoring a pair of Nationwide Series victories.

News of Trickle’s death has generated a great deal of emotion and sadness around Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend as teams prepare for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race.

“Sad,” said Mark Martin, who first raced against Trickle on the short tracks of the Midwest in their days as competitors on the ARTGO and ASA circuits. “I knew Dick really well and I just can’t fathom it coming to this. He is a little older than we were -- Rusty (Wallace) and myself and some of the others that are in NASCAR now -- that he was part of the influence that helped mold the people and the racers that we were.”

An emotional Martin was grateful for how Trickle helped serve as a mentor for many who made their way into NASCAR racing including the Michael Waltrip Racing driver.

“I was proud of who we were and the racers we were,” said Martin. “For the influence that he had on us and the etiquette and the way he raced. He raced us real hard on the racetrack, but off the racetrack, he was very free with parts or advice -- he gave freely. Really, really good dude. I’m confused and broken-hearted about what happened.”

Fellow Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth grew up first watching Trickle race around his home state before finally competing against him. Kenseth was saddened to hear the news about someone he considered was a larger than life figure in the sport.

“Man, Dick was a legend, you know especially up in Wisconsin short track racing where I grew up,” said Kenseth. “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.”

Kenseth remembered his last conversation with the legend, which took place last summer at the famed Slinger Nationals, a prestigious late model stock car event held at the high-banked Wisconsin short track that Trickle helped create. Their conversation was not unlike the many they shared over the years but it focused on Kenseth’s major NASCAR career change that was about to happen.

“I talked to him for awhile -- 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 and, man, we sat in there for two hours last July and that was the last time I saw him,” said Kenseth. “We talked for two hours and he always had a lot of -- he had a unique way of looking at things, he had a ton of common sense and he was really smart and always had a really funny way of putting things.

“Man, he went on for about an hour just about my move and what he thought was great about it and just a lot of other interesting things that made me feel good. Ninety percent of the stuff he told me at least through all the years I raced with him and stuff always proved to be right. That’s the last time I saw him. I’m still in shock. I don’t really get it.”

Stories of Trickle’s colorful personality and unbridled enthusiasm for doing what he loved have been shared by many in the last few days, but Martin summed up what he believes will be his legacy.

“I’m sure he’d like to be remembered the way all of us that knew him remember him -- and that is he was a hell of a hard guy to beat,” said Martin.

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