Dick Trickle shown here in 1999 was a legend on the Midwestern short track circuit where it's estimated he won hundreds of races.(Photo Jamie Squire Getty Images)
CONCORD N.C. A gruff but lovable man who mentored NASCAR champions and made magic on short tracks Dick Trickle's suicide sent shock waves through the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage Friday.
The news was particularly hard to grasp for 2003 champion Matt Kenseth who recalled the fellow Wisconsin native as a legend when he followed Trickle's footsteps to NASCAR's premier series from Midwestern short tracks.
That era of stock car racing up in that area really died with him Kenseth said. It's just crazy surprising news.
TRICKLE Dead at 71 of apparent suicide
His last visit with Trickle was last July at the Slinger Nationals a Wisconsin Late Model classic won by Kenseth for a record sixth time.
It was right after the news came out that I was moving to Joe Gibbs Racing and he kind of peeked in the trailer afterward and of course he asked if we had any beer Kenseth said. Man we sat (and) talked for two hours and he always had a unique way of looking at things a ton of common sense and he was really smart and always had a really funny way of putting things.
Man he went on for about an hour just about my move (to Gibbs from Roush Fenway Racing) and what he thought was great about it and a lot of other interesting things that made me feel good. I'm still in shock. I don't really get it.
COLUMN Trickle's great story comes to tragic end
Trickle died Thursday at 71 from a self inflicted gunshot wound at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City N.C. Police said a note was found with the body and foul play wasn't suspected.
The audio from the 911 call placed by Trickle was released Friday by Lincoln County Communications Center. Without identifying himself Trickle tells the operator there's going to be a dead body. Suicide. I'm the one and indicates he'll be found by his 1993 Ford pickup truck on the back side of the ceremony.
In a story posted on the Las Vegas Review Journal's website Thursday night Chuck Trickle said his brother went to doctors twice a day for pain under his left breast but they couldn't identify the cause.
He was very down Chuck Trickle told the newspaper. He more or less said he didn't know how much longer he could take the pain.
An obituary posted on the website of the Warlick Funeral Home said Trickle was survived by his wife Darlene three children and three grandchildren.
PHOTOS Late NASCAR driver Dick TrickleLast SlideNext Slide
NASCAR veteran Mark Martin a native of Batesville Ark. said Trickle served as a mentor for him and fellow Midwestern drivers Rusty Wallace and Alan Kulwicki both Cup champions.
We wouldn't have been the racers that we were when we got here had we not come under his influence Martin said. For the influence that he had on us and the etiquette and the way he raced. He raced us real hard on the race track but off the race track he was very free with parts or advice. He gave freely. Really really good dude. I'm confused and broken hearted about what happened.
Trickle was the 1989 rookie of the year in NASCAR's premier circuit but didn't win in a career of 303 starts from 1970 2002. It's estimated he won hundreds of short track races.
He got the job first of all because he was the winningest driver in the country Martin said. Yeah he raced for five nights a week but he won a lot of them too.
He had a real special personality. He was tough but he was fun. He was just a very unique person. He was in his element short track racing where he didn't have to look over his shoulder or worry about anything. That's why he didn't come (to Sprint Cup) when he might have and was young enough that he really could have gotten his feet planted firmly here. He was doing it his way.
Martin said racing against Trickle was as thrilling and exciting as it was for me the first time I got to race with Richard Petty.
Kenseth recalled that Trickle remained a Pied Piper of Wisconsin racing serving as a de facto grand marshal for the Slinger Nationals each year.
He would always come back up there and just sign autographs he said. I'd see him every year at Slinger and that would be about the only time that I would run into him.
I don't know that I ever talked to him about anything except for racing so I'm not really sure what he did outside of racing once he retired. You'd kind of ask him and he'd kind of give you a three or four word answer and then he'd go off into a racing story. Almost every conversation I've ever had with him was about racing.
Five time champion Jimmie Johnson learned of Trickle's exploits while living in Milwaukee and racing in the ASA Series and he enjoyed getting to know him while racing in the IROC Series. Trickle served as a test driver for the all star circuit and often went to lunch with Johnson to talk cars.
I'm shocked and saddened by it Johnson said. I didn't race a lot against Dick. His stories were legendary.
Contributing Jeff Gluck
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