Iconic Former NASCAR Driver Dick Trickle Dead of Suspected Suicide

Dick Trickle, the legendary NASCAR driver who gained fame and a significant cult-like following even though he never won a Winston Cup Series race, passed away on Thursday due to an apparent self-inflicted bullet wound.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina told USA TODAY that law enforcement officials received a call earlier that said "there would be a dead body and it would be his." His body was found near the cemetery where his granddaughter is buried. Trickle's granddaughter died in a car accident in 2001, and he has reportedly never gotten over her death and has not been the same since. 

"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 was a legendary short track driver before remarkably becoming NASCAR's rookie of the year at the age of 48 when he joined the Winston Cup Series for fulltime in 1989. He was NASCAR's oldest rookie of the year. 

Regular ESPN viewers in the 1990s knew of Dick Trickle, whose personality was as outlandish and memorable as his name, because "SportsCenter" anchors, particularly "The Big Show" anchors Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, mentioned how where Trickle finished in each race just so they could say his name on the air. 

What made Trickle such a draw, though, was his eccentric, iconoclastic style that made him a perfect personality for a sport that has been associated with America's renegades. He was never afraid to show his humanity--and that endeared him to racing and non-racing fans alike.  

Daring, bold, and never boring, Trickle also used to drill a hole in his racing helmet so he could smoke cigarettes during races and regularly had lighters in his car, as can be seen below. 

Dick Trickle, an American original in every way.


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