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Brickyard Pioneers: Where are They Now? Dick Trickle

Note: This is the third of a series about drivers who competed in the early years of the Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard who no longer compete regularly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Many in racing have tried to estimate how often Dick Trickle has taken the green flag in the sport.

Wikipedia lists him as having run an estimated 2,200 races, winning around 1,000 features and running a million laps during his career. That’s probably as close as anyone can come.

He came out of the Wisconsin and Minnesota short tracks, listing his hometown as Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., but racing all over the Midwest, in reality.

But he didn’t reach the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until drawing a testing assignment for the International Race of Champions cars along with Dave Marcis and Jim Sauter. Trickle also competed in the 1995, 1996 and 1998 Brickyard 400s.

“I hadn’t even been to the Speedway until NASCAR raced there and when we tested for IROC,” said Trickle, 70, from his Midland, N.C., home. “I was always racing somewhere. We were there for days with IROC, to see how the cars would go side-by-side and so forth. When we came closer to race time, we got them closer.”

When he did get to the Speedway, driving a heavy stock car on the low-banked turns surprised him.

“Wow,” he said. “It was crazy, to run those speeds and hold ‘em in the corners. I couldn’t believe you could drive into the corners that hard and make it. To me, going through the corner … you couldn’t believe the excitement. We weren’t used to running a racetrack with four distinct corners.

“You get used to the car through repetition. Once you get that, it’s exactly the same as other tracks.”

Today, his driving career is behind him.

“I’m pretty well retired,” Trickle said. “I’m going to the Slinger Nationals in Wisconsin to be the grand marshal. I’ve been retired 10 years now, and that’s how long it’s been since I was in a Cup car. I’m pretty good on chassis setup and help someone once in a while.”

Trickle made the Cup ranks at an older age than the hot shoes of the day. He was NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year in 1989 – at age 48.

“In 1995, when I drove the Bud Moore car, I was 55 years old,” he said.

In all, he started 303 Cup races with a best finish of third on five occasions. He won the non-points Winston Open in 1990 by 8 inches over Rob Moroso. At the Brickyard, Trickle’s best finish was 18th, in 1995 and 1998.

One unofficial record he might hold: Trickle was apparently the last Cup driver to smoke cigarettes on caution laps.

“I’m the last one who’ll admit it,” he said. “I had a lighter in my car. I quit smoking four years ago.”

                                                           ***
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