Racin' Around: 2004 Thru
Where Are They Now?
Talented short track ace has no regrets
After 44 years of driving a racecar, quitting cold turkey is almost an impossible task. And for that reason, Dick Trickle is easing into this thing called retirement. As he points out,
It is something you have to work into.
As a result, Trickle is returning to his roots. The most famous and successful short track racer of the 1970s and '80s is again running the short tracks of the Midwest in one of his cars that helped him win a whopping 1,200 races.
This year he will run between five and eight events in "Goldie." Among the races that Goldie won back in her glory days were back-to-back NASCAR Southwest Tour events at Phoenix International Raceway in 1989 and '90.
After Trickle became a full-time NASCAR Winston Cup driver in 1989 and moved to Iron Station, N.C., in '90, Goldie was retired. Since then, the car has been residing in Trickle's 7,000-square-foot shop behind his North Carolina home.
Says Trickle, who will be 63 on Oct. 27,
I don't want to do any more than five or eight races a year. I don't want to get back to doing 100-some shows like we used to. But I still want to be competitive and win races. So Kevin Lang [a car builder] came down last winter and picked Goldie up and took her back to his shop [in Medina, Minn.]. He put a 2004 body on her and got her ready to race. Not too far down the road there will be a day when I will decide I don't want to do this anymore. But right now, I still have the want to. Yes, the want isn't what it was. But when you raced as long as I have and run as many races as I have, it is pretty hard when you love the game just to say, 'I quit.'
Trickle's last Cup race was in 2002, and the last time he ran a Busch Series event was in 2001. In 297 Cup starts, his best finish was third. Trickle also won the 1990 Winston Open. He won two of the 158 Busch Series races that he ran.
Biggest part of the '90s, I ran the full Winston Cup schedule and just about the full Busch schedule plus I was testing the IROC [International Race of Champions] cars - and I am still doing some of that. So that wasn't much different than my short track days when I ran 100-some shows a year. After such a busy schedule, the first few weeks, months and even years, you miss it. But slowly you get away from it and handle it better. I guess you can say that all of this started out as a hobby, and then I made a career out of it. Now it is ending up back as a hobby.
Because he was on the road so much, Trickle is a self-proclaimed homebody, who enjoys spending quiet time at home with his wife, Darlene.
Both of my sons [Todd, 41, and Chad, 32] and my daughter [Victoria, 43] don't live that far from us. So we can spend a lot of time together. We are a very close family. We do have a motor home, but my wife and I don't use it that much. I have eight acres of land, which I call my play area, and I have a shop there. That is where l am always building things, working on my lawn mower, tractors - all of my toys. I am really enjoying life. I am a terrible golfer, but we play once a week. It is like a family outing. And I play in golf tournaments for charity and do a speech here or there or act as a grand marshal. It seems like 1 keep pretty busy, but maybe it is because I don't need as much to keep me busy.
Trickle was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and it was at the local short track that he caught the racing bug.
I was about 9 or 10. I thought it was the neatest thing I had ever seen. When we got home, I told my family that when I got old enough I wanted to drive a racecar. We didn't have any money, SO I Put together a hope chest of parts through my early teenage years. I'd cut up some wheels out of a junkyard or cut up an old hay ring for some angle iron or pipe. That was how I put together my first racecar. From an old barn that had burned down, I built my first roll cage out of stuff from it.
Trickle was 16 when he ran his first race. He says he didn't do too well, but eventually he caught on.
Before you knew it, I was winning a few races. The more I won, the more I raced. I'd get some kind of odd job through the winter and then I'd race in the summer.
Shortly after getting out of high school, he married Darlene, who was his childhood sweetheart. One day in 1963 he came home from work and told her,
If I worked on my race cars all the time instead of working 6O hours a week, I'd be more consistent in finishing first, second and third. I'd make more money than I do working.
Darlene knew her husband well enough that she just smiled and said, "Go for it."
Trickle was now a full-time racer, and in the '70s - instead of getting an odd job during the winter-he converted his shop over to snowmobiles.
I raced cars in the spring, summer and fall and raced snowmobiles in the winter. But then my car racing got to be year round. I was running it as a business. I was running 105-118 shows a year through most of the '70s and early '80s. I cut back to about 85 in the last part of the '80s as I started running farther and farther away [from home].
Along the way, Trickle won nine ARTGO Challenge Series championships as well as two ASA titles. He finished second in the race for the ASA championship an amazing nine times. And the track championships, well, there were so many that Trickle has no idea what that number totaled.
I don't know how many trophies I've won over the years. I know I have boxes and boxes and boxes of them stored in my shop. And I've probably given away 85 percent of them.
In his early years, Trickle would run 100 shows with one car. Slowly, he added to his stable.
I built all my own cars and engines back then. I think it was 1977 before I ran somebody else's stuff.
In 1972, he built a 1970 Mustang and won 67 features that year with that car.
I ran that car for a number of years. It was a real good car. I finally sold it to a fellow down in Missouri. But a couple of years ago, [Nextel Cup driver] Ken Schrader and I bought it back. We are going to restore it. And then I had a car I called 'Kitty.' It was way ahead of its time. I ran that car for about seven years. It won many, many races. That was pretty much the last car I built. I had a lot of great cars, but those two stand out.
When asked if he has any idea of how many races he has won over the years, he shakes his head and says,
I don't know of anybody that could give you a really accurate count. But if I had to estimate, and it would be pretty close, I would say 1,200. In 1971, '72 and '73, 1 won 48, 67 and 57 races in just those three years. What is that - 172? And I won 51 in '77.
Because Trickle was so successful during the '70s and '80s, never mind the '60s, many people wanted him to come south and run the Cup cars on a full-time basis. But that didn't happen until 1989. And even then, Trickle, who was 48, thought it was just going to be for a few races.
I got the call [from the Stavola Brothers] to relief driver for Mike Alexander, who was relief driving for Bobby Allison. I kept waiting for Mike to come back, but he never did. I ended up winning the rookie of the year title that year. I won the rookie of the year in USAC stocks back in '68, and then 21 years later I win it in Winston Cup.
At the end of the 1989 season, Cale Yarborough hired Trickle to drive his car. "That was my first full deal with a salary and all that," Trickle says. "So I decided to move down here.
I remember going to Atlanta that spring and [team owner] Leonard Wood came up to me and said, 'If you had come down here 15-20 years ago, you'd been a [Darrell] Waltrip or an [Dale] Earnhardt.' I told him I wouldn't give up the last 20 years for nothing because they were such great years. I was winning more than my share of races. I really enjoyed what I was doing to the point where I was more than satisfied to stay where I was.
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