Fast, Play Hard, Die Young"
fun was the whole point! Every day was Christmas,
every night ~ Saturday Night!...
since Curtis Turner has there been a driver that could party all night,
drive the wheels off of a race car during the day, and still manage to
shake the Foundation of Nascar down to its very Roots. The only difference-
Turner was forgiven.
never gave that blessing back to Tim Richmond.
never did fit stock car racings mold. He had a personality for every pair
of sunglasses, every hat, every pair of snakeskin boots and
loafers he owned. Winning racing was Tims adrenaline, but he
on anything fast from a Harley with a suicide clutch, to helicopters, speedboats,
water skis, and airplanes. He ran in wildly different circles
rarely intersected: bikers, actors, musicians, truck drivers, and millionaires.
He lived his personal life as fast as he hit the Race Tracks.
could do wonders with a race car. He could almost defy the laws
physics, and make the impossible seem possible in that race car.
was a natural.
grew up in Ashland Ohio, had a prep school education, and received
Trans Am 455 with a bow on top for his 16th birthday- to go with the Corvette
he already had. Tim started driving race cars at a relatively advanced
age-by the standards of today. He was 21 when a friend who owned a Sprint
car, invited him to take some laps at the Lakeville Speedway in Ohio. Not
only did he prove to be a natural, in a few laps in that Sprint car he
was turning better laps than the regular driver, who had been racing for
1977 Tim started driving a Supermodified car he co-owned with his
at Sandusky Speedway-billed as "The Fastest Half Mile Oval in Ohio". Tim
not only won "Rookie of the Year" honors, but the track
in his class as well. Richmonds goal was not stock car
but Indy Car racing. He competed in the Mini Indy car series
Phoenix AZ, and won the title the first time out. From the Mini Indy
League Tim moved to the USAC Sprint Car Series, and in 1979
"Rookie of the Year" in that series as well.
financing in place, Tim-with help from Roger Penske, was able to
up a deal to buy a car, and make his Indy car debut at Michigan.
debut did not go well-with mechanical problems, as well as questions regarding
Richmonds "racing style", when Mark Stainbrook, crewchief
Pat Santello, asked if Tim would be interested in driving for the team.
The 1980 season was a difficult year, as CART took over control of the
Indycar Series from USAC. Tim made 5 Indy starts. He would qualify well
~only to be sidelined with mechanical problems and
was Tims biggest year, however; in the Indy Car Circuit, and his
moments were during the weeks in May leading to the
500. He set the fastest time in practice, and a favorite
a front row spot. A crash on Pole Day kept that from happening-
he made the field in a backup car. He showed skill and speed that
his inexperience and led the race before running out of gas in
ending laps. For his achievements that month, Tim was awarded
of the Race" honors.
was never forced to decide between NASCAR and CART.
would later describe the difference between Indy Cars and Stock
as being that you "drove" and Indy car, but you "raced" a Stock
and Tim Richmond had a racers' heart.
began driving in a Winston Cup car full time in 1981. As always,
made quite a splash in the World of NASCAR. While most drivers
conservative short haircuts, Tim had shoulder length hair~and had
stylist, instead of a barber. Tim arrived on a Harley Davidson and his
was often mistaken for arrogance. The guys in the garage
weren't impressed...but the ladies sure were! In 1981, Tim had 29
6 top 10 finishes, and finished 16th in points.
started 1982 without a ride in Winston Cup. He drove for the Fast Company
Limited Ford, and then for mercurial milionaire and con artist
Stacey~with impressive finishes and proof to other drivers he was a Winston
was with the Blue Max Team from 1983-1985. By 1985 there was
were saying Tim was a better driver than the equipment
allowing. Others were wondering if his hard charging party lifestyle
the track was hindering his ability to drive the car. For much of that
season, Tim battled regularly with Dale Earnhardt. Off the track
and Tim were good friends and spent alot of time together, but on
track they were fierce competitors. Earnhardt brought out Tims best.
rather race Earnhardt as eat," says Harry Hyde (Crewchief-Folgers team).
"He just enjoyed the hell outta of racing Earnhardt, he'd pull up
Earnhardt and just sit there for lap after lap. Not about to give in~
not able to go any faster!" Sometimes ready to bang and crash their
to the finish or the garage area, whichever came first. They brought
the best of their competitive natures. Earnhardt was the heart of Southern
stock car racing in his Wrangler jeans, denim shirt, and
hat. Richmond had his own style-Armani suits, silk shirts,
1986, Richmond moved to the Hendricks stables, driving the #25
car, and was paired with the late Harry Hyde; a grizzled
born of the old school of stock car racing, and its Southern
Thru the 1986 season, Hyde and Richmond began to click on
track. That year he won 7 races, and 8 poles, more than any other
was September of that year when Harry noticed Tim was ill. With a
months of ups and downs, by the Nascar Awards Banquet in December
it was evident Tim was getting worse. But with his season such a
he was named NASCARS Driver of the Year WITH Earnhardt
that Awards Banquet.
a week, Richmond was in the Cleveland Clinic, diagnosed with
Tim spent Christmas and New Year in the hospital, dwindling
171 to 148 pounds. Rumors about drug use had persisted since his
Car days. Others say he never used "needle drugs".
missed the 1987 Daytona 500, with what was called "double pneumonia." He
returned to racing in Spring of 1987, triggering a
frenzy. Harry Hyde scheduled a secret practice at Darlington to
if Tim was physically able to come back. Word leaked out, and
showed up with stop watches. So, Hyde slipped four leftside
on...to give the car an added edge. Newspapers reported that
was Back!", setting track record speeds. At Rockingham,
tried to run the 500 miles, but could not last more than 127. As his
began to deteriorate, Tim was too weak to run the
600 in May.
return to racing came at Pocono in June, and the outcome
the script from "Days of Thunder", which was based loosely
Tim Richmond and Harry Hyde. While not well, once Tim was
into that race car, and the engine was fired ~he was a force to
reckoned with! It seemed the Old Tim Richmond was Back!
remaining in contention all day-Tim pushed himself for the last
of the race, moving into the lead, and holding off Bill Elliott by
second to take the win. The Pocono win was bittersweet for Richmond.
knew and acknowledged his fans enthusiastic cheering, and his
of racing....he also knew he was dying.
last time, at the next race at Riverside, Harry Hyde coached Tim to
patient, and then set him loose late in the race. He took the lead with
to go, holding off Ricky Rudds' challenges to win what would be Tims
victory. It was an emotional win, with a fan favorite, and Tim dedicated
Fathers Day Victory to his dad Al Richmond.
health deteriorated from that point onward, and he was forced to
or resign from Hendricks Motorsports September 9, 1987.
was an ugly situation when Tim tried to stage yet another
at the Busch Clash in 1988. Fingers can be pointed, accusations made and
excuses offered as to the botched drug test, and why Tim Richmonds' memory
has been largely ignored since his tragic passing.
doesn't really matter. Because it cannot change the fact that
is no longer with us.
lived fast, he played hard, and burned the candle at both ends.
his active life, he lived life to its fullest, sometimes using
judgement along the way. He paid the ultimate price with his life.
some of us, there was no need for "The Racing Powers That Be",
completely cut him off, and shut him out from nearly everyone in
It was as if he had to go thru death twice.
Richmond died as dawn broke over West Palm Beach on
13, 1989. Richmond was buried at Ashland County Memorial
in Ohio, following a private ceremony for the family. Charlotte
Speedway held a Memorial Service for him the next week. About
people attended. Later Evelyn and Al Richmond asked their son's
to announce the cause of death, in an attempt to better inform
public about the AIDS Virus, and how or under what conditions the
can be contracted. So much more is known, now a decade later,
this disease, and how it can be transmitted.
HINDSIGHT, and looking at the stubborn ignorance of many
we can tell them now, as some of us could, when Tim was alive...
can't get AIDS driving a Race Car, or going to the RaceTrack.
you can't get AIDS from comforting someone with AIDS, and giving them a
hug, and your support... just letting them know you care, and you're there
was denied all of these...
excerpts taken from the following web articles:
Richmond: The Reason We Remember by Matt McLaughlin
Richmond: The Reason We Remember Part Two by Matt McLaughlin
Richmond: all but forgotten from:Winston Cup Online
more information on Tim Richmond and Crew Chief Harry Hyde
out: "The Life and Times of NASCAR's Legendary Heroes"
Last Lap" by Peter Golenbock thru Macmillan Publishing
more facts behind the movie "Days of Thunder")
32 The Travails of Harry Hyde
35 Harry Hyde and Tim Richmond
38 The Death of Harry Hyde
sprint car Rookie of the Year, 1978
500 Rookie of the Year, 1980
Driver of the Year (with Dale Earnhardt), 1986
Cup Starts: 185
Cup Finishes: 13 wins, 42 top 5's
purse $64,355, 1986 Coca-Cola 600
Cup Career Earnings: $2,273,568
7-Born in Ashland Ohio
9th in the Indy 500 and named Rookie of the Year
his first full Winston Cup season
to Hendrick Motorsports as driver of the #25 Folgers car.
7 races, and 8 poles with Crew Chief Harry Hyde, including Charlotte's
Coca-Cola 600 and Darlington's Southern 500.
NASCAR's driver of the year with Dale Earnhardt.
with AIDS on Dec 10.
to racing at the Winston in Charlotte, finishing 3rd.
his first two full-length races at Pocono, PA and Riverside CA.
from Hendrick Motorsports on Sept 9th.
6-NASCAR announces Richmond is suspended indefinitely
testing positive for a banned substance. Five days later, he is
when NASCAR announces the test showed over-the-counter
medication. He is ordered to produce his medical records to
28-Richmond files a $20million lawsuit against NASCAR and
Forest Tennant, charging them with defamation of character through
28-Judge James B McMilan orders Richmonds' medical records to be produced
16-1989-Richmond withdraws his lawsuit.
13-Tim dies at Good Samaritan Hospital, in West Palm Beach, FL
23-At the Family's request, Dr David Dodson announces AIDS as
cause of death. Dodson says he is convinced that Richmond
the disease through unprotected heterosexual sex.