Racin' Around - Previous Seasons
If there is any driver the fans want to see win his first, it's Trickle. At 56, he's one of the oldest drivers in Winston Cup racing, yet he acts like he's not a day over 30.
The driver of Junie Donlavey's Heilig-Meyers/Simmons Ford may earn his paychecks on the superspeedways these days, but his heart, and his history, is in a much smaller arena.
He races on Sundays — and Saturdays, in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division — now, but on his way to the upper echelon of motorsports, the popular Trickle raced as many as eight and nine times a week, barnstorming tracks near his his hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
The same skill and tenacity that used to be on display nightly is only evident twice a week now, but there's no doubt that Trickle has taken to his second career with the same enthusiasm he demonstrated in his first.
Trickle, still adding new fans to the legions that follow his career from those days in the 1960s and '70s driving in the Midwest, had a few good runs in the second half of the 1997 season and if the final third of the 1997 season is any indication, Trickle and Donlavey's Heilig-Meyers team will be spotted in the front ranks of contenders during 1998.
Beginning with the second Michigan race in 1997, his ninth-place qualifying effort kicked off a four-race streak of top-10 starts and put together a string of performances that saw the Ford start from no lower than ninth place in six of the next eight races.
Starting with the Pepsi 400, Trickle posted an average starting position of 12.8.
And the qualifying performances were backed up with an impressive run at Bristol, where Trickle finished a fighting third on the lead lap, which equaled a career best.
He also had a solid run to fifth at Rockingham in October, marking the growing competitiveness of the team.
Trickle had more top-five finishes in 1997 than he had in the previous four years combined.
If the team can continue to post those kinds of performances, Trickle could find himself on the way to victory lane before the 1998 season is completed.
Should Trickle find the way to the winner's circle, it would be one of the most popular victories imaginable in the garage area. Donlavey is one of the most well-liked car owners in the garage, and Trickle has proven over and over that he can still get the job done behind the wheel, despite being a 56-year-old racing grandfather.
The crew, led by Tommy Baldwin Jr., remains intact. Baldwin chose to remain at Donlavey's despite being lured by Hendrick Motorsports at the conclusion of 1997.
Donlavey Banking On Mature Trickle
Maturity - And Track Experience - Can Go A Long WayBy Sandra Frederick Staff Writer; Jan. 9, 1998; The News-Journal
In the world of Winston Cup racing, maturity - and track experience - can go a long way. At least that's what Junie "Chief" Donlavey is counting on. In the rapidly growing sport, where points leader Jeff Gordon, driver of the DuPont No. 24 car, is a mere 26 years old, Donlavey took what he considers the high road when choosing a driver for his No. 90 Heilig-Meyers Furniture sponsored car. "The reason I went with Dick (Trickle) was we needed maturity, someone who knew what he was doing," said the 73-year-old Richmond, Va., car owner. "We wanted someone who was experienced. He is also a first-class gentleman and I wouldn't trade him for anyone, regardless of the age."
Trickle, 56, has collected some 40 years worth of racing knowledge over the years - everything from driving a 1950, $100 souped-up street car on paved short tracks in and around Wisconsin to the superspeedways of Daytona, Charlotte and Talladega.
I wanted to be a racer since I was nine years old. A neighbor took me to a track to see a race and that was it. I knew then what I wanted to do and I have stuck with it.
But desire is only one part of the racing puzzle, Trickle said.
You have to acquire the skills and that takes time, it's not going to happen over night. I believe people are born with abilities, like quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers. But you have to practice to get real good at what you do and you have to have patience.
Donlavey is banking on Trickle's philosophy to get his team to the Winner's Circle next month at the 40th annual running of the Daytona 500 race. Although the team's crew chief, Tommy Baldwin, is only 31, the majority of the racing team has been around the sport for many years. "Once the team gathers maturity, then you can start going to the younger side," said Donlavey. "But for now I am more than happy with who we have and what we are doing."
Donlavey first saw Trickle race in 1976 at the Charlotte, N.C., track and was impressed with his competitive skills, even then. And his respect for Trickle continues to grow. Among Trickle's accomplishments is a fifth-place finish in the 1992 Daytona 500 and he has qualified for every Daytona 500 race in the 90s. His first Daytona 500 race was in 1970 where he started 36th and finished 26th. As for the younger generation of drivers, Donlavey shrugs his shoulders and said, "You will find a Jeff Gordon every once in a while and that's good for the sport. There will always be a new one coming along. But it's the veteran drivers like the Dick Trickles who keep the sport going in the right direction."
My neighbor stopped his car in front of my house and yelled, "Hey kid, wanna go to the races with us?" There were a bunch of other kids in the car and I figured 'what the heck', let me check it out. The track was just a few miles from my home in Rudolph, Wisconsin, but I had never really given it a second look - I didn't think it would really interest me. I was wrong. We watched the races and then went down to the pits to see the cars and meet the drivers. I had this feeling of excitement rushing through my body - I knew that this is what I wanted to do. And that feeling hasn't left me in forty years.
I started my career like everyone else. When I was a teen, you'd get about 100 guys with jalopies show up to try and make the feature. Only the top forty-eight made the show and the rest ran the 'Hooligan' race. For the first couple of years, I was a Hooligan! The next three years was like going to school. I won a couple of races, had a few good wrecks, blew some motors and missed a show or two. But by my fourth year, I was the guy to beat. It's a great feeling when you pull into the pits of a track and hear people buzzing, 'oh jeez, it's Trickle!' I think the best thing that I did was learning from the changes I made to the car. I would experiment and see how different changes effected my performance. I was kind of lucky, because growing up my dad and uncle were blacksmiths - that gave me a pretty good background for fabrication. Back then you had to build the best race car if you wanted to win. Today, you can buy the best!
I ran the ASA and ARTGO series for a good portion of my career. I guess I was the top gun in the Midwest and I was running everywhere. From May through September I was running every night except Monday - all in all about 100 shows a year. It was a pretty hectic pace, but I loved every minute of it! In 1970, I took a car to Daytona to race in the 500. After that, I had a few select rides in what was then known as the Grand National division. But my first real break came in 1989 when I got a call from Bobby Allison to drive as his replacement for the Stavola Bros. He had been injured and his replacement, Mike Alexander, had also been hurt. So, my first opportunity for a full-time ride was in Rockingham. I had to take a provisional, but we finished 14th. The next week in Atlanta I finished third and took the Rookie of the Year honors by the end of the season. I'll always be grateful to Bobby for giving me that chance.
These days it's not much different as far as my schedule is concerned. Besides driving for Junie Donleavy in the Cup Series, I run for Dennis Shoemaker on Saturdays in the Busch Series. And on top of that, I test for IROC about thirty-five days out of the year. It does get a little crazy once in a while, but again, I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll tell you what: I am a lucky guy. I get to do what I love for a living; I race for a legendary owner and a fantastic sponsor and my Crew Chief Tom Baldwin and I communicate well. But the thing that I am thankful for the most is my family. I have a wonderful wife and three great kids. They all participate with me in racing. What more could a guy want than to have his family involved with the career he loves. I think that this year our Cup team is really in a position to win. We've been pretty strong so far and we've made a few changes.
So, do you want my Top Reasons I Think Dick Trickle Will Win a Winston Cup Race This Year?
|Questions? Anything Not Work? Not Look Right? My Policy Is To Blame The Computer.|
|Oneliners, Stories, etc. | About Somethin' About Everything Racin' | Site Navigation | Parting Shots | Google Search|
|My Other Sites: Cruisin' - A Little Drag Racin', Nostalgia And My Favorite Rides | The Eerie Side Of Things | It's An Enigma | That"s Entertainment | Just For The Fun Of It | Gender Wars | Golf And Other Non-Contact Sports | JCS Group, Inc., A little business... A little fun... | John Wayne: American, The Movies And The Old West | Something About Everything Military | The Spell Of The West | Once Upon A Time | By The People, For The People | Something About Everything Racin' | Baseball and Other Contact Sports | The St. Louis Blues At The Arena | What? Strange? Peculiar? Maybe.|