Dick Trickle

Dick Trickle
Richard "Dick" Trickle

Dick Trickle getting in his #90 Ford at Pocono 1998
Born October 27, 1941 (1941-10-27) (age 70)
United States Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

1984 and 1985 American Speed Association Champion
Considered "America's Winningest Driver" with an estimated 1,200 career wins

7 ARTGO championships between 1979 and 1987

1968 USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year

1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
303 races run over 24 years
Best finish 15th – 1989 (Winston Cup)
First race 1970 Daytona 500 Qualifier #2 (Daytona)
Last race 2002 MBNA Platinum 400 (Dover)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 36 1
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
First race 1984 Red Carpet 200 (Milwaukee)
Last race 2001 Outback Steakhouse 300 (Kentucky)
First win 1997 Galaxy Food Centers 300 (Hickory)
Last win 1998 Dura-Lube 200 Presented by Bi-Lo (Darlington)
Wins Top tens Poles
2 42 1
Trickle's 1968 Ford Torino, raced on Wisconsin tracks

Richard "Dick" Trickle (born October 27, 1941) is a retired American race car driver. He raced for decades around the short tracks of Wisconsin, winning many championships along the way. Trickle has competed in the ASA, ARTGO, ARCA, All Pro, IMCA, NASCAR, and USAC.

In more than an estimated 2,200 races, Trickle has logged one million laps and has won around 1,000 feature races. He was billed as the winningest short track driver in history.[1] Trickle's career highlights include racing to 67 wins in 1972,[2] winning seven ARTGO Championships in nine years between 1979 to 1987, winning back to back ASA AC-Delco Challenge championships in 1984 and 1985, the 1968 USAC Stock Car rookie of the year, and winning the 1989 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award in what was then called the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup). Trickle was nicknamed the "White Knight" as referenced by his sponsored SuperAmerica paint scheme, when he raced in Wisconsin.[3]


Early life

Eight-year-old Dick Trickle was playing tag with his cousin Verlon on the rafters in a house under construction when he fell two floors to the basement and broke his hip.[4] He was transferred from a local hospital to the University of Wisconsin Hospital with slow recovery.[4] His recovery was so slow that the doctors gave up and sent him home presuming that he would be an invalid for the rest of his life.[4] Trickle later began to walk, although he still walks with a slight limp.[5] He spent three years in a cast from his waist to his foot.[4] While he was recovering as a nine-year-old, a friend took him to his first races at Crown Speedway in his hometown of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.[5] "When I got there I was flabbergasted," Trickle said. "I thought it was the neatest thing. Free shows were nothing compared to it. That race never left my mind until I was 16. I knew I was going to drive a race car when I was 16."[5]

Trickle married his wife Darlene in 1961.[5] They originally lived at his grandmother's house for a while before they bought a trailer home on someone else's property.[5] His nephew Chris Trickle was an up-and-coming race car driver before dying in a drive by shooting.

Racing career

Wisconsin short track career

Trickle's family lived on welfare, so there was no money available for racing.[5] Trickle spent his summers from young on working for area farmers, starting as a 13-year-old.[6] He also spent a lot of time at the Rudolph Blacksmith shop that his father was a partner in.[5] While his father was ill, his uncle Leonard ran the shop.[5]

"I worked part time at the shop to earn a nickel or dime," Trickle said. "At that age, it was mostly sweeping the shop, but I started to play with the welder and soon I could make an arc and then weld. I started junking machinery. I save some things getting a head start for when I would go racing at 16. I didn't have any money, but I had this pile of stuff to build a race car with. It was a hope chest.

When I turned 16, I let the farmer I was working for keep most the money I earned until fall. That fall I collected my money and went down Main Street wheeling and dealing. I finally bought a 1950 Ford in good condition for $100. It was going to be my street car, but the urge to race got too strong and I cut up and made a stock car out of it."

I did run the car a little bit before I cut it up and I ended up drag racing a classmate, Melvin Hunsinger, who had a 1949 Ford. He beat me. It seems kind of dumb when I already knew there was a car that could beat me. Eventually, I bought Hunsinger's 1949 Ford for $32.50 and put the motor in my car".[5]

Trickle started out as the slowest car in a 100 car field at a Stratford, Wisconsin race.[5] He raced that car at the end of the 1958 season and throughout the 1959 season, after which time he built a 1956 Ford into race car using all of his knowledge that he had acquired.[5] In his first time out with the new car, he finished second in the feature event at Griffith Park at Wisconsin Rapids.[5] His competitors checked the rules and found out that Trickle was too young to race, even though he had already raced there for two years.[5] He had to race at other tracks for a year until he was old enough to race at his hometown track.[5] He raced for several years before deciding to race full-time.[5] After working at several jobs after high school, he had worked for two years for a local telephone company. He had been uncomfortable climbing telephone poles as he was uncomfortable with heights.[5] He transferred to a different part of the company. Two or three years later he discussed racing full-time with his wife for he felt that he could be profitable, and they decided to make the change.[5]

Trickle's raced at over 100 events each year for over 15 years.[5] He was racing at Tomah-Sparta Speedway when Francis Kelly noticed that Trickle was always in contention for winning the races, but he lost a lot of them because he had junky motors. One day Kelly approached Trickle and asked him what it would cost for Trickle to win. Trickle told him a new motor; Kelly asked Trickle to compile a list of parts that he needed. When Kelly asked who would assemble the motor, Trickle responded that he could but he was a junkyard mechanic. Trickle suggested that Alan Kulwicki's father Jerry Kulwicki, who was building motors for Norm Nelson's USAC stock cars, should build the engine.[5]

A big turning point in Trickle's career happened at the National Short Track Championship race at Rockford Speedway in 1966.[5] Trickle said, "The cars in that area were fancier and looked like they were ahead of us. The didn't treat us bad, but they sort of giggled at us kids with the rat cars. After two days, they look differently at those rat cars. I won and pocketed $1,645. Before, I questioned spending the money to travel that far. But if you could win, that was a different story."[5] Trickle started the 1967 season by winning at State Park Speedway and ended the season with 25 feature victories including wins at Wisconsin Dells Speedway (now Dells Raceway Park) and Golden Sands Speedway (near Wisconsin Rapids).[7]

He toured on the Central Wisconsin Racing Association (CWRA) tracks in 1971. The circuit consisted of larger asphalt track racing on most nights of the week.[8] CWRA regular drivers were able to run over 100 events in a year, and most did the tour with one car and one engine.[9] Drivers would drive on Wednesday nights at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Thursday nights at State Park Speedway near Wausau, Friday nights at Capitol Speedway (now Madison International Speedway) near Madison, La Crosse, or Adams-Friendship, Saturday nights at Wisconsin Dells Speedway, and Sunday nights at Griffith Park.[9] Tuesday nights were available for special events.[9]

On Thursday nights at the quarter mile State Park Speedway, he won seven features and lowered his July 1 14.27 second track record to 14.09 seconds on the following week.[8] On Friday nights he raced primarily at Capitol Speedway, winning most nights that rain or his car did not break.[10] Trickle went to Adams-Friendship on July 23 and won the feature after setting the track record.[11] He held the track record at six tracks: Adams-Friendship, Capitol, Wausau, Wisconsin Dells, and La Crosse.[11] He raced at the newly opened third mile Wisconsin Dells Speedway on Saturday nights. By the end of the year, Trickle had won 58 feature events.[12]

Trickle started his 1972 season by winning at Golden Sands Speedway near Wisconsin Rapids.[2] Wisconsin's short track racing season starts in April. By May 13, he had twelve wins in thirteen events.[2] He got this fifteenth win in twenty starts on May 27.[2] Trickle became the winningest short track driver that year when he won his 67th race.[2]

Trickle won numerous special events outside of Wisconsin in 1973, including a 200-lap feature at Rolla, Missouri in April, following by winning a 50-lap feature the following day at I-70 Speedway near Odessa, Missouri.[13] In May he won a 50-lapper at Springfield, Missouri and two more features at I-70 Speedway.[13] Trickle used his purple 1970 Ford Mustang to win at the Minnesota Fair and at Rockford Speedway in September.[13] He had a total of 57 wins in 1973.[5]

Sanctioning bodies put in a weight-per-cubic-inch rule, and Trickle's career had problems in 1974 and 1975. "Fords almost broke me. I couldn't get any pieces for racing at my level. It took two years of hard labor and depleting my funds to realize I couldn't do this anymore. I told myself either I had to change my program or get out of racing."[5] So Trickle decided to use a General Motors car and engine. He bought a car for $13,000 on his word that he would pay for it by September. He won 35 or 40 races that year and paid for the car by July.[5]

In 1982, Trickle won track championship at State Park Speedway in Wausau where he started out the season by winning the first two features and seven total.[3] He also won the track championship at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway after winning three events in August.[3] That season he won his first Miller 200 special event at the Milwaukee Mile.[14] Trickle started racing out of state a lot more in 1983.[15] Of all of Trickle's victories, his best memory was winning the 1983 World Crown 300 in Georgia. "It took three weeks of preparation and a lot of determination," he said. "It was the biggest payday of my career up to that point ($50,000)."[5] He beat Jim Sauter by two car-lengths at the season opener, and won three straight races in May.[15] After winning on June 1, LaCrosse business raised a $700 bounty for anyone who could beat him.[16] Trickle skipped the following week, and returned the week after to lose to Steve Burgess.[16] He did not win as much at State Park, but he did win the track championship.[15] Trickle won ASA races at Coeburn, Virginia and Cayuga, Ontario in 1984, as well as the Red, White, and Blue state championship series at WIR and the Slinger Nationals at Slinger.[17]

Regional and national touring career

Trickle raced in United States Automobile Club (USAC) stock cars in 1968, and he won the series' rookie of the year award.[18]

NASCAR career

1989 Rookie of the Year car
Heilig Meyers car

In 1989 Trickle made his full schedule debut driving the #84 Miller High Life Buick for Stavola Brothers Racing. He had raced an occasional race during the 1970s and 1980s.[19] He was Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's Winston Cup (now the Sprint Cup) at age 48 (and a grandfather), becoming the oldest driver in Winston Cup history to do so. His best career Winston Cup finish was third (5 times). He started 303 races, with 15 Top 5 and 36 Top 10 finishes.

In 1990, he won the Winston Open (now the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race) in the #66 TropArtic Pontiac. It was a non-points All-Star event for drivers who did not win in the previous year. He beat Rob Moroso by 8 inches, the smallest margin of victory at the event. He also won his only career Cup pole at Dover Downs International Speedway. In the middle of the 1991 season he went to drive the #24 Team III Racing Pontiac. His best finish was 6th at Dover International Speedway. In 1992 he teamed up once again with the Stavola Brothers, driving the #8 Snickers Ford. In 1993 he drove the #75 Carolina Pottery Ford for Butch Mock Motorsports and then the #41 Manheim Auctions Chevy for Larry Hedrick Motorsports.

Part of his popularity stemmed from his unusual, double-entendre name. ESPN's Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann often made it a point to mention where he finished whenever NASCAR highlights were featured on Sportscenter. He was either referred as Mr. Trickle or "The Man". He was also widely noted for having drilled a hole in his safety helmet so that he could smoke while racing, and for installing cigarette lighters in his race cars. [1] Trickle was allowed by NASCAR to smoke in the race car during yellow flag periods, and in the 1990 Winston 500 (now the Aaron's 499), Trickle was seen on live television by the in-car camera lighting up and smoking a cigarette.

Trickle even made fun of his lack of success in NASCAR's top-level series in a 1997 TV commercial for Napa Auto Parts. In it, Trickle announces a contest where fans can win $100,000 if they pick the winner of that year's Napa 500 race. "A little tip...it's gonna be me!" he says, as an on-screen graphic points out "Dick is 0 for 243 in Cup races". "I think we get champagne (after winning)," says Trickle. [2]

Dick also raced in the Busch Series, where he won two races. He had 158 career starts, with 24 Top 5 and 42 Top 10 finishes. He made his Busch Series debut in 1984.

Trickle continues to race in occasional events in Wisconsin, including the 2007 Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway and in the ASA Midwest Tour.


Trickle (right) at the 2009 Dick Trickle 99

The La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway created the Dick Trickle 99 race, a 99 lap Super Late Model event during its annual Oktoberfest race weekend.[20] Wisconsin International Raceway has named a building in Turn 2 the "Dick Trickle Pavilion".

His crashes at the Lake Placid bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track at the Geoff Bodine Challenge (NASCAR and NHRA drivers raise funds for the United States bobsleigh team to build the sleds) has that turn (17, 18, 19, the "heart curve") named the Trickle Turn.[21]

Wins in major series

Although he won no points-paying races in NASCAR Winston Cup, he was very successful elsewhere:


  1. ^ Grubba, page 214
  2. ^ a b c d e Grubba, Dale (2000). The Golden Age of Wisconsin Auto Racing. Oregon, Wisconsin: Badger Books. p. 78. ISBN 1-878569-67-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=Yxu1tpjJm8YC&pg=PA166&lpg=PA166&dq=%22dick+trickle%22+1000&source=web&ots=Co6OCZICiP&sig=QInya04Fgd0ccU_XMwyS40nE4wA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA214,M1. 
  3. ^ a b c Grubba; page 177
  4. ^ a b c d Grubba, page 20
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Grubba, pages 211–222
  6. ^ Grubba, page 21
  7. ^ Grubba, pages 27 – 29
  8. ^ a b Grubba, page 70
  9. ^ a b c Grubba, page 7
  10. ^ Grubba, page 72
  11. ^ a b Grubba, page 73
  12. ^ Grubba, page 75
  13. ^ a b c Grubba, pages 101–102
  14. ^ Grubba, page 1982
  15. ^ a b c Grubba, page 183
  16. ^ a b Grubba, page 184
  17. ^ Grubba, page 192
  18. ^ Grubba, page 32
  19. ^ Dick Trickle NASCAR statistics
  20. ^ "History". Oktoberfest Race Weekend official website. 2009. http://www.oktoberfestraceweekend.com/history.php. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  21. ^ "2008 Geoff Bodine Chevy Bobsled Challenge from Lake Placid, New York". Bobsled on Speed TV. January 27, 2008.
Preceded by
Ken Bouchard
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Rob Moroso

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