Tim Richmond

Tim Richmond
Born(1955-06-07)June 7, 1955
Ashland, Ohio, United States
DiedAugust 13, 1989(1989-08-13) (aged 34)
West Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Cause of deathHIV/AIDS
AwardsNamed one of the 50 Greatest NASCAR Drivers of All Time (1998)[1]
International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee (2002)[2]
NASCAR Cup Series career
185 races run over 8 years
Best finish3rd (1986)[3]
First race1980 Coca-Cola 500 (Pocono)
Last race1987 Champion Spark Plug 400 (Michigan)
First win1982 Budweiser 400 (Riverside)
Last win1987 Budweiser 400 (Riverside)
WinsTop tensPoles
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
10 races run over 4 years
Best finish48th (1986)
First race1983 Kroger 200 (Indianapolis)
Last race1986 Gatorade 200 (Darlington)
First win1985 Winn-Dixie 300 (Charlotte)
Last win1986 Winn-Dixie 300 (Charlotte)
WinsTop tensPoles

Timothy Lee Richmond (June 7, 1955 – August 13, 1989) was an American race car driver from Ashland, Ohio. He competed in IndyCar racing before transferring to NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. Richmond was one of the first drivers to change from open wheel racing to NASCAR stock cars full-time, which later became an industry trend.[4] He won the 1980 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award and had 13 victories during eight NASCAR seasons.

Richmond achieved his top NASCAR season in 1986 when he finished third in points.[1] He won seven races that season, more than any other driver on the tour.[1] When he missed the season-opening Daytona 500 in February 1987, media reported that he had pneumonia.[1] The infection most likely resulted from his compromised immune system, which was weakened by AIDS. Despite the state of his health, Richmond competed in eight races in 1987, winning two events and one pole position before his final race in August of that year.[1] He attempted a comeback in 1988 before NASCAR banned him for testing positive for excessive over-the-counter drugs, ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine; NASCAR later announced they gave Richmond a new test and tested negative. Richmond filed a lawsuit against NASCAR after NASCAR insisted they wanted access to his entire medical record before they would reinstate him. After losing the lawsuit, Richmond withdrew from racing. NASCAR later stated their original test was a "bad test."[5]

Richmond grew up in a wealthy family and lived a freewheeling lifestyle, earning him the nickname "Hollywood".[6] In describing Richmond's influence in racing, Charlotte Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler said, "We've never had a race driver like Tim in stock car racing. He was almost a James Dean-like character."[6] When Richmond was cast for a bit part in the 1983 movie Stroker Ace,[6] "He fell right in with the group working on the film," said director Hal Needham.[6] Cole Trickle, the main character in the movie Days of Thunder, played by Tom Cruise, was loosely based on Richmond and his interaction with Harry Hyde and Rick Hendrick.[7]

Early life

Richmond grew up in Ashland, Ohio. His parents, Al and Evelyn (née Warner) Richmond, met in the course of their work. Al was a welder for pipe construction companies and Evelyn was a field office manager.[8] Noticing that highway crews had to dig up the entire highway to lay pipe, Al designed a machine to bore underneath the highway. To market this invention, he founded Richmond Manufacturing, which eventually exported machines worldwide.[8]

Tim's driving days started as a toddler when he was given a go-kart that he often drove inside buildings and across his lawn.[8] He later raced the kart at tracks in Moreland and New Pittsburg.[9] Richmond grew up in a well-to-do family, and was sometimes therefore treated differently by his classmates,[clarification needed] so his parents enrolled him in Miami Military Academy in Miami, Florida. During his years in Miami, Tim and his mother moved to Florida and his father stayed in Ohio. While home in Ohio over a summer break, he met local drag racer Raymond Beadle through lifelong friend Fred Miller.[8] When Richmond reached age 16, his parents purchased him a Pontiac Trans Am, a speedboat and a Piper Cherokee airplane for his birthday. Yet his mother Evelyn often worried about spoiling her only son. She once said, "Tim was lazy...", and "... I did everything for him. I ruined him, I admit it. He was my whole life."[10]

Richmond excelled in sports; he set a conference record in high hurdles and his high school football career was stellar enough that the academy retired his sports jersey after his gridiron days were over.[10] Miami Military Academy named him Athlete of the Year in 1970.[9] Richmond's other interests included flying, and he earned his private pilot license at age 16.[9] Following high school graduation, Richmond attended Ashland University for about one year before dropping out.[8]

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