Tim Richmond

"Live Fast, Play Hard, Die Young"
Having fun was the whole point! Every day was Christmas,
and every night ~ Saturday Night!...

Not 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-
Curtis Turner was forgiven.
Nascar never gave that blessing back to Tim Richmond.

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
italian loafers he owned. Winning racing was Tims adrenaline, but he
fed on anything fast from a Harley with a suicide clutch, to helicopters, speedboats, water skis, and airplanes. He ran in wildly different circles
that rarely intersected: bikers, actors, musicians, truck drivers, and millionaires. He lived his personal life as fast as he hit the Race Tracks.
Tim could do wonders with a race car. He could almost defy the laws
of physics, and make the impossible seem possible in that race car.
He was a natural.

Tim grew up in Ashland Ohio, had a prep school education, and received
a 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 years.

In 1977 Tim started driving a Supermodified car he co-owned with his
father at Sandusky Speedway-billed as "The Fastest Half Mile Oval in Ohio". Tim not only won "Rookie of the Year" honors, but the track
Championship in his class as well. Richmonds goal was not stock car
racing, but Indy Car racing. He competed in the Mini Indy car series
in Phoenix AZ, and won the title the first time out. From the Mini Indy
Car League Tim moved to the USAC Sprint Car Series, and in 1979
won "Rookie of the Year" in that series as well.

With financing in place, Tim-with help from Roger Penske, was able to
set up a deal to buy a car, and make his Indy car debut at Michigan.
The debut did not go well-with mechanical problems, as well as questions regarding Richmonds "racing style", when Mark Stainbrook, crewchief
for 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
outdated equipment.

1980 was Tims biggest year, however; in the Indy Car Circuit, and his
proudest moments were during the weeks in May leading to the
Indianapolis 500. He set the fastest time in practice, and a favorite
for a front row spot. A crash on Pole Day kept that from happening-
but he made the field in a backup car. He showed skill and speed that
belied his inexperience and led the race before running out of gas in
the ending laps. For his achievements that month, Tim was awarded
"Rookie of the Race" honors.

Richmond was never forced to decide between NASCAR and CART.
He would later describe the difference between Indy Cars and Stock
Cars as being that you "drove" and Indy car, but you "raced" a Stock
Car, and Tim Richmond had a racers' heart.

Tim began driving in a Winston Cup car full time in 1981. As always,
Tim made quite a splash in the World of NASCAR. While most drivers
had conservative short haircuts, Tim had shoulder length hair~and had
a stylist, instead of a barber. Tim arrived on a Harley Davidson and his
confidence was often mistaken for arrogance. The guys in the garage
area weren't impressed...but the ladies sure were! In 1981, Tim had 29
starts, 6 top 10 finishes, and finished 16th in points.

Tim started 1982 without a ride in Winston Cup. He drove for the Fast Company Limited Ford, and then for mercurial milionaire and con artist
JD Stacey~with impressive finishes and proof to other drivers he was a Winston Cup contender.

Tim was with the Blue Max Team from 1983-1985. By 1985 there was
friction-some were saying Tim was a better driver than the equipment
was allowing. Others were wondering if his hard charging party lifestyle
off the track was hindering his ability to drive the car. For much of that
1985 season, Tim battled regularly with Dale Earnhardt. Off the track
Dale and Tim were good friends and spent alot of time together, but on
the track they were fierce competitors. Earnhardt brought out Tims best.

"He'd rather race Earnhardt as eat," says Harry Hyde (Crewchief-Folgers team). "He just enjoyed the hell outta of racing Earnhardt, he'd pull up
under Earnhardt and just sit there for lap after lap. Not about to give in~
but not able to go any faster!" Sometimes ready to bang and crash their
way to the finish or the garage area, whichever came first. They brought
out the best of their competitive natures. Earnhardt was the heart of Southern stock car racing in his Wrangler jeans, denim shirt, and
cowboy hat. Richmond had his own style-Armani suits, silk shirts,
and Rolex watch.

In 1986, Richmond moved to the Hendricks stables, driving the #25
Folgers car, and was paired with the late Harry Hyde; a grizzled
veteran born of the old school of stock car racing, and its Southern
roots. Thru the 1986 season, Hyde and Richmond began to click on
the track. That year he won 7 races, and 8 poles, more than any other
driver that season!

It was September of that year when Harry noticed Tim was ill. With a
few 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
success, he was named NASCARS Driver of the Year WITH Earnhardt
at that Awards Banquet.

Within a week, Richmond was in the Cleveland Clinic, diagnosed with
AIDS. Tim spent Christmas and New Year in the hospital, dwindling
from 171 to 148 pounds. Rumors about drug use had persisted since his
Indy Car days. Others say he never used "needle drugs".

Tim missed the 1987 Daytona 500, with what was called "double pneumonia." He returned to racing in Spring of 1987, triggering a
media frenzy. Harry Hyde scheduled a secret practice at Darlington to
see if Tim was physically able to come back. Word leaked out, and
reporters showed up with stop watches. So, Hyde slipped four leftside
tires on...to give the car an added edge. Newspapers reported that
"Richmond was Back!", setting track record speeds. At Rockingham,
Tim tried to run the 500 miles, but could not last more than 127. As his
health began to deteriorate, Tim was too weak to run the
CocaCola 600 in May.

Tims return to racing came at Pocono in June, and the outcome
exceeded the script from "Days of Thunder", which was based loosely
on Tim Richmond and Harry Hyde. While not well, once Tim was
strapped into that race car, and the engine was fired ~he was a force to
be reckoned with! It seemed the Old Tim Richmond was Back!

After remaining in contention all day-Tim pushed himself for the last
quarter of the race, moving into the lead, and holding off Bill Elliott by
a second to take the win. The Pocono win was bittersweet for Richmond.
He knew and acknowledged his fans enthusiastic cheering, and his
love of racing....he also knew he was dying.

One last time, at the next race at Riverside, Harry Hyde coached Tim to
be patient, and then set him loose late in the race. He took the lead with 10
laps to go, holding off Ricky Rudds' challenges to win what would be Tims
last victory. It was an emotional win, with a fan favorite, and Tim dedicated
that Fathers Day Victory to his dad Al Richmond.

Tims health deteriorated from that point onward, and he was forced to
retire or resign from Hendricks Motorsports September 9, 1987.

There was an ugly situation when Tim tried to stage yet another
comeback 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.
It doesn't really matter. Because it cannot change the fact that
Tim is no longer with us.

He lived fast, he played hard, and burned the candle at both ends.
Throughout his active life, he lived life to its fullest, sometimes using
poor judgement along the way. He paid the ultimate price with his life.
To some of us, there was no need for "The Racing Powers That Be",
to completely cut him off, and shut him out from nearly everyone in
Racing. It was as if he had to go thru death twice.

Tim Richmond died as dawn broke over West Palm Beach on
August 13, 1989. Richmond was buried at Ashland County Memorial
Park in Ohio, following a private ceremony for the family. Charlotte
Motor Speedway held a Memorial Service for him the next week. About
200 people attended. Later Evelyn and Al Richmond asked their son's
doctor to announce the cause of death, in an attempt to better inform
the public about the AIDS Virus, and how or under what conditions the
virus can be contracted. So much more is known, now a decade later,
about this disease, and how it can be transmitted.

With HINDSIGHT, and looking at the stubborn ignorance of many
people, we can tell them now, as some of us could, when Tim was alive...
You can't get AIDS driving a Race Car, or going to the RaceTrack.
And 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 for them!

Sadly...Tim was denied all of these...

Extensive excerpts taken from the following web articles:

Tim Richmond: The Reason We Remember   by Matt McLaughlin

Tim Richmond: The Reason We Remember Part Two   by Matt McLaughlin

Tim Richmond: all but forgotten from:Winston Cup Online

For more information on Tim Richmond and Crew Chief Harry Hyde
check out: "The Life and Times of NASCAR's Legendary Heroes"

"The Last Lap" by Peter Golenbock  thru Macmillan Publishing
(includes more facts behind the movie "Days of Thunder")
Chapter 32 The Travails of Harry Hyde
Chapter 35 Harry Hyde and Tim Richmond
Chapter 38 The Death of Harry Hyde


**USAC sprint car Rookie of the Year, 1978
**Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, 1980
**NASCAR Driver of the Year (with Dale Earnhardt), 1986
**Winston Cup Starts: 185
**Winston Cup Finishes: 13 wins, 42 top 5's
**Biggest purse $64,355, 1986 Coca-Cola 600
**Winston Cup Career Earnings: $2,273,568


1955-June 7-Born in Ashland Ohio

1980-Finishes 9th in the Indy 500 and named Rookie of the Year

1981-Runs his first full Winston Cup season

1986-Move to Hendrick Motorsports as driver of the #25 Folgers car.
Wins 7 races, and 8 poles with Crew Chief Harry Hyde, including Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600 and Darlington's Southern 500.
Named NASCAR's driver of the year with Dale Earnhardt.
Diagnosed with AIDS on Dec 10.

1987-Returns to racing at the Winston in Charlotte, finishing 3rd.
Wins his first two full-length races at Pocono, PA and Riverside CA.
Resigns from Hendrick Motorsports on Sept 9th.

1988-Feb 6-NASCAR announces Richmond is suspended indefinitely
for testing positive for a banned substance. Five days later, he is
reinstated when NASCAR announces the test showed over-the-counter
cold medication. He is ordered to produce his medical records to
race again.
**April 28-Richmond files a $20million lawsuit against NASCAR and
Dr Forest Tennant, charging them with defamation of character through
the drug test.
**December 28-Judge James B McMilan orders Richmonds' medical records to be produced

**Jan 16-1989-Richmond withdraws his lawsuit.
**Aug 13-Tim dies at Good Samaritan Hospital, in West Palm Beach, FL
**Aug 23-At the Family's request, Dr David Dodson announces AIDS as
the cause of death. Dodson says he is convinced that Richmond
contracted the disease through unprotected heterosexual sex.