- Rich Bickle
Infobox NASCAR driver
Name = Richard Bickle, Jr.
Birthdate = birth date and age|1961|5|13
Birthplace = Edgerton,
Best_Cup_Pos = 38th - 1999 (Winston Cup)
Cup_Top_Tens = 3
First_Cup_Race = 1989 All Pro Auto Parts (Charlotte)
Last_Cup_Race = 2001
Old Dominion 500(Martinsville)
Total_Cup_Races = 85
Years_In_Cup = 12
Best_Busch_Pos = 24th - 2001
Busch_Top_Tens = 9
Busch_Poles = 1
First_Busch_Race = 1994
Busch Light 300(Atlanta)
Last_Busch_Race = 2003
Bashas' Supermarkets 200(Phoenix)
Total_Busch_Races = 54
Years_In_Busch = 7
Best_Truck_Pos = 2nd - 1997
Truck_Wins = 3
Truck_Top_Tens = 34
Truck_Poles = 6
First_Truck_Race = 1996
Florida Dodge Dealers 400(Homestead)
First_Truck_Win = 1997
Last_Truck_Win = 1997
Last_Truck_Race = 2005
Toyota Tundra 200(Nashville)
Total_Truck_Races = 79
Years_In_Truck = 7
Rich Bickle, Jr. (born
May 13, 1961in Edgerton, Wisconsin) is a journeyman NASCARdriver. He is currently unemployed. Bickle, who has never completed a full season in the NASCARSprint Cup Series, has a long and prestigious history in short track racing.
Bickle was brought into the sport as a child, when he watched his father, Rich Sr., race throughout
Wisconsin.cite book |title=The Golden Age of Wisconsin Auto Racing |last=Grubba |first=Dale |year=2000 |publisher=Badger Books |location= Oregon, Wisconsin|isbn=1-878569-67-8 |pages=pages 158 - 162 ] The little Bickle began racing motocrossat the tender age of five. While winning the 250ccchampionship on Sunday nights when he was 16, he raced stock cars at Jefferson Speedway on Saturday nights in 1977. He went behind his father's barn to pick out one of his father's old racecars and selected a beat up 1968 GTO. "It was so beat up you could hardly tell what it was." Bickle started racing a 1974 Pontiac as a sportsman at Jefferson for the second half of the 1977 season and the whole 1978 season. Bickle stopped racing motorcycles after he graduated in 1979. He built a 1972 Ford Torinowith a 302 cubic inch motor that year, which he began using at mid-season. He used the car to win a heat and the semi-feature at Columbus 151 Speedwayin the car's first night out, and it ran well at Lake Geneva Racewayand Rockford Speedway. That off-season he changed the rear clip on the car to improve it for Rockford before deciding to give away the car and build a new one. In 1980 he raced weekly at Rockford, Lake Geneva, and Capital Speedway (now Madison International Speedway), winning 23 semi-features which was the most in the United States. He was named the Sportsman Rookie of the Year at Lake Geneva and Rockford.
Bickle turned his Rockford car into a
late modelin 1981 and raced the car to a Top 5 points finish at Lake Geneva and ninth place at Capital. He raced the car at Slinger Super Speedwayand selected ARTGOraces. He won his first late model feature that season at Lake Geneva. For 1982, he decided to try to ran as many races as he could within 300 miles of his home, and he had raced in between 90 and 100 events by the end of the season. He had won a couple of features and had set fast time at Wisconsin Dells Speedway (now Dells Raceway Park). At the off-season banquet for Slinger Super Speedway, he told track owner Wayne Erickson that he would win the 1983 track championship. Bickle focused on winning Slinger's track championship that year and he finished in the Top 5 in 17 of 18 features that season to win the track championship. In 1984 he raced primarily at Slinger, Wisconsin International Raceway(WIR), and Capital. Bickle won his first half mile feature at WIR even though he had raced at Capital for several seasons.
Bickle updated his car, hauler, engine, and equipment for 1985 with a new sponsor. He won the season opener at Capital and several other features later in the season en route to winning the track championship. He had a good season at WIR and raced well at the ARTGO races that he ran. In 1986 he won the points championship at Capital Speedway. He had 17 feature wins that season, and he ran well at Slinger, WIR, and Wisconsin Dells. In 1987, he raced at numerous Wisconsin tracks. He won a $15,000-to-win event at
Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1987. Butch Miller, who had led most of the race, went in for a pit stop with 60 laps left and Bickle and Ted Musgravegained the lead. The race was halted for rain and hail with 46 laps left, and it was declared over with Bickle receiving the win.
He had won 230 races at various short tracks, including
Lake Geneva Raceway, Wisconsin International Raceway, and late model track championships at Slinger Super Speedwayin 1983 and 1989. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_19990716/ai_n10547223 Speedway owner laments he has vroom to spare] , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; July 16 1999by Lauria Lynch-German, Retrieved July 25 2007]
In 1990, he made his debut in the
American Speed Association, a Midwest-based racing organization based primarily in short tracks. He finished runner up to Johnny Bensonin Rookie of the Year standings.(Ironically, Benson would take over Bickle's old Cup ride in 2000.)
NASCAR Winston Cup
Bickle made his
NASCAR Winston Cupdebut in 1989 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in his self-owned, unsponsored #02 Buick. He finished 39th out of 42 cars after his engine expired 37 laps into the race. He made his first start in the Daytona 500the next year when, once again driving his own underfunded Oldsmobile, and finished 28th, just five laps down. Bickle competed in 11 events over the next three years(leading one lap at Charlotte in 1993). 1994 marked a then career-high in terms of starts, driving ten races, most of them for Harry Melling. After years of limited starts, Bickle made the full-time jump to Cup in 1998, driving the #98 Thorn Apple Valley Ford Taurusfor Cale Yarborough, replacing Greg Sackswho had been critically injured in an accident at Texas. Bickle had two top-five qualifying efforts and finished a career-best 4th at Martinsville and delivered an emotional post-race interview. When the sponsorship went away, Bickle signed with Tyler Jet Motorsports to drive the #45 10-10-345 Lucky Dog Pontiac. It was an up-and-down year for Bickle and the team; Bickle posted top-10s at the Pontiac Excitement 400 and the Pocono 500. However he had trouble qualifying for races, and after the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, he was released from the team. Bickle drove some for Melling Racingthat year. In 2000, Bickle did substituteduty for Joe Bessey's team, and drove one race for Morgan-McClure Motorsportsthe following year, in addition to driving once for Midwest Transit Racing.
NASCAR Busch Series
Bickle has found considerably more success in the lower levels of NASCAR than he has in
Winston Cup. He made his Busch Seriesdebut in 1993 at Atlanta, finishing 27th with engine failure. Bickle's best season in the Busch Serieswas 1994, where won one pole and had four top-10 finishes in a limited schedule. In 2001, he made his first full-time run in the Busch Series, driving the #59 Kingsford Chevy, and competed in 27 events before he was released. He has run only one Busch Seriesrace since then.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Bickle began racing in the
Craftsman Truck Seriesin 1996 for Petty Enterprises, winning two poles, having 9 top-10 finishes and wound up a solid 11th in points. For 1997, he switched to the #17 Diehard Chevroletowned by Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, and the combination was an instant success. Bickle started four races on the pole position(winning three of them), and when the checkered flag fell on the season, he was second in championship points. Since then he has run a limited schedule in the trucks, the most starts he's had in a season since then is twelve in 2003.
Bickle is single. However, he is a diehard
Green Bay Packersfan and follows them whenever he can. He also likes riding his Harley-Davidson, restoring and building hot rodsand adding to his antiquebeer can collection. He frequently races at special events at his home tracks in Wisconsin. As of 2007, Bickle is planning to open an auto fabrication business in Edgerton with his father, tentatively named Rock County Flatheads and Fabrication. Bickle already does auto customization at his racing shop in Mooresville, but plans to permanently relocate to Edgerton. [cite news
title= Local racing star has hobby worth working for
August 18 2007
The Janesville Gazette
* [http://www.racing-reference.info/driver?id=bicklri01 Racing reference]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20000817011544/www.nascar.com/winstonCup/drivers/BickR01/index.html Biography at NASCAR.com]
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