October 17, 2010 by staff
Tim Richmond, CONCORD – It was the fall of 1986. I worked in a newspaper of people in South Carolina and spent most of my time writing about games and college football in high school I attend NASCAR races.
It was a different time in many ways, and one of the little things that was different was the promotion of NASCAR racing. Charlotte Motor Speedway sent a packet to every newspaper, every radio station, everyone would think, including a couple free tickets to the classification of Oakwood Homes 500.
In those days, was more common than now for a decent public to show for qualifying, and gifts were no doubt one reason why.
I met a friend – I forget which now – and we went to the race track for qualifying.
For many, Tim Richmond was “NASCAR driver, who died of AIDS.” To me, he was the only driver I’ve seen that I would pay to see the requirements (although at that day, I did not). He won the pole in the afternoon in what was his one great year in NASCAR. In the days of bias tires, drivers can “hang a car was” better than they can today, but still, nobody could “hang out” better than Richmond.
Less than three years later, on August 13, 1989, Richmond died.
On Tuesday night at 8, ESPN Deportes will air as part of its “30 on 30″ series, a biography of Richmond, “Tim Richmond: To the Limit,” directed by Rory Karpf. That will be played Wednesday night at 7:30.
Karpf interviewed veteran NASCAR writer Debra Williams newsroom of the Gazette, as part of the documentary.
I saw on Saturday.
It is a moving biography of a complex man, flawed and brilliant.
Dr. Jerry Punch was, then as now, a NASCAR announcer. A prayer for Punch summarizes the entire film: “Their lifestyle is what made him a rock star in a race car, but also the lifestyle that brought him so soon.”
Even in 1986, Richmond was a setback. Their lifestyle reflects the “party the night of Saturday, the race all day Sunday” credo of men as Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly. Many riders in the 1950′s and 60′s were wild men, and was not considered unusual. After all, a man must be crazy to race cars in the first place.
Tim Richmond’s story was conceived largely exaggerated and disinfected in “Days of Thunder”, the 1990 film loosely based on the Richmond team, crew chief Harry Hyde and owner Rick Hendrick. Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) is based in Richmond, Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) in Hyde and Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) from Hendrick.
This film, which makes no claim of fiction, the truth is concerned with the details of the sad demise of Richmond.
When he died Richmond, NASCAR lost a disproportionate share of their personality. It was “an original.” Drivers today are bright, but few have the originality of Richmond, and is not all bad.
Belmont native H. A. “Humpy” Wheeler, who led the CMS at the time, said in the movie “What I thought would be great if we had someone totally different than (‘good old boy) culture (a) wake up to the fans. Tim Richmond was the right of “East of Eden ‘and Greenwich Village. I thought, this is perfect. ”
Once diagnosed, Richmond hid the disease would kill him. Family members described him as being in denial. When the AIDS epidemic hit, it rained so much on death and social stigma upon their victims. America was in denial, too. His denial was more than the idea that someone can contract AIDS through heterosexual contact.
Richmond sister recalled, “When they (the undertaker) learned that he had died of AIDS, estimated 100 to control the body.”
It was half a decade later, in 1991, when Magic Johnson announced he had the disease, which serves the secondary purpose of educating the public.
Richmond return of the disease no one knew was spectacular. Won two of his eight races in 1987, both tracks, Pocono and Riverside, which requires serious fitness. He won some battles end heroic, but he could not win the war.
Richmond number of high school football and win total were 13 major NASCAR.
In the film, Hendrick recalled the last days of Richmond, said: “The disease is only acceptance.’s In the prime of life, and then he just took away.”
Kyle Petty Richmond friend added: “It was one of the highlights of my life where I felt like I let someone and made an effort to learn more about it. We were ignorant about what was happening.”
“The phobia was fledged,” said Punch.
“Many people thought he was against drugs,” said Hendrick. “He was on drugs, but it was to save his life.”
Occasionally, now, the name comes from Richmond in the conversation, someone always asks how NASCAR would be different “if Richmond had lived.”
Never have I seen so much. Richmond was both “Candle in the Wind” as Marilyn Monroe. He was born to be fickle, a comet flashing across time dramatically, but briefly.
As demonstrated by this movie, the comet was really something to see.
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