The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Dick Trickle And The Open Road Engine Change by John Potts -- Thursday May 12, 2011

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Editor’s Notes: Potts’ Shots is’s Weekly Q & A on anything involving NASCAR, whether it’s stories from the past or controversies in the present. To ask John Potts a question click here and if you’re lucky, he’ll pick your question to feature in his column next week!

Chris B writes us:

My question is regarding Dick Trickle. I’ve been a longtime fan of his although I had to endure quite a few jokes from friends when he was driving the No. 90 for Junie. My question stems from one of those stories that makes you wonder if it’s more urban legend than truth. The story goes that just prior to loading to head to a race his guys found some metal shavings in the oil pan and decided that an engine swap would need to happen, yet they didn’t have time to do it at the shop. The story goes that Dick’s guys actually swapped the engine on the way to the race on an open hauler. I’ve heard a lot of Trickle stories over the years and the guy has done some stuff with a car that would sound near impossible in a story, but this story sounds a little bit over the top to me. Would you have any idea if the White Knight guys pulled this off? It would be good to hear any other Trickle stories it you have any.

Well, Chris, I wouldn’t want to say they didn’t. I’ve heard that story, and I’ve asked Trickle about it once. All I got was something of a smirk. I’d say it would be possible to put the engine in there before leaving, and then do all the hookup work while going down the road – provided the driver was taking it easy. I NEVER saw the Trickle hauler taking it easy.

Somehow, I have a problem with imagining Vic Getzloff hanging over an engine compartment on a car on an open trailer rolling down the highway. If you didn’t know Vic Getzloff, he was one BIG individual. One night at Indianapolis Raceway Park, we were having a pit crew tire race. Each crew was to spot six members around that big oval, and they had to roll a mounted tire in relays. The driver was to start it off, handing off to the first crewman in the first turn.

Trickle spoke up at the driver’s meeting with, “Victor wants to know can he throw the tire?” As for other Trickle stories, there are many. A couple of them I’ve covered before and have recounted in the upcoming book, Driven to the Past.

One I’ll rehash involved a night at Lexington, Mo., when we were all partying around the pool following a Saturday of qualifying and preliminary racing at I-70 Speedway. As things happen at this kind of shindig, pretty soon people started being thrown into the pool. After a while, all of us who had gotten wet realized that Trickle was the only guy who hadn’t gone in yet.

When several of us approached him, he grabbed onto the chaise lounge on which he was reclining, and said, “I ain’t goin’ in!” That led to a group of us picking up the chaise lounge and tossing it in the pool, with Trickle still hanging on. Driver’s suit and all. The only thing that ticked him off was that we didn’t give him a chance to toss his pack of Camels before he went in. Before the night was over, several pieces of patio furniture had found their way to the bottom of the swimming pool.

The next morning, the motel manager stopped Steve Stubbs and I on our way to breakfast and wanted to know just what happened the previous night. Admitting to nothing in the best tradition of Sgt. Schultz, we asked what he was talking about.

He pointed to the chaise lounge and chairs at the bottom of the pool. We told him that we didn’t do that.

“Well,” he said, “There’s nobody staying here except your racing bunch and a group of Baptists from Topeka.”

After thinking about it, we advised him not to let those folks from Kansas stay there anymore.

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The Mad Man
05/12/2011 12:31 PM

I don’t know about Dick Trickle changing engines on the open road but a few drivers from back in the 50’s and 60’s did. Rex White could probably give you a name or two.