The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: Tim Richmond - To The Limit by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday October 20, 2010

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MPM2Nite: Tim Richmond - To The Limit

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday October 20, 2010


I’ve never been much of a gambler; get rich quick schemes always seem to drive a soul broke. Atlantic City is about ninety minutes out of here, a place I think I’ve been about three times in the past decade. Raking in the dough, those casinos wouldn’t have built all those tacky neon lit sand castles on the beach if gamblers tended to walk out of them ahead of the game. As I see it, the mere act of taking a car, much less a motorcycle, out onto public roadways with texting teens, sloshed soccer moms trying to get home in time for Oprah, and recently divorced middle aged men in 500 horsepower Corvettes and Porsches is gambling enough for my blood.

Another reason I don’t gamble is I’m no damned good at it. I’d have bet the farm that a film like Tim Richmond – To the Limit was never going to be produced. Some have referred to Tim Richmond as NASCAR’s forgotten legend. For years, Richmond wasn’t forgotten; he was shunned by the powers that be. Discussion of Tim or his ultimate fate was verboten in the garage area. People I’d asked for comments on Tim Richmond back in 2001 tended to develop sudden amnesia as if they couldn’t quite place the name or walk away as if they hadn’t heard the question. Why? Some newer fans might ask. I’ll get to that. But over the years, Tim’s diehard fans have remained. I’ll still see the occasional Folgers Racing decal (normally now faded almost to translucence on a car’s rear window). Back in 2001, Tim Richmond was, in fact, recognized as one of the sport’s 50 greatest drivers ever.

I’m told Richmond’s inclusion caused Bill France, Jr. a great deal of irritation.
It’s why ESPN was the only network that could have put together a film like Tuesday night’s triumph (as part of their critically acclaimed 30 for 30 anniversary series). As it so happened, Richmond’s arrival on the Cup scene coincided almost exactly with the upstart cable sports network’s gamble to broadcast stock car races live flag to flag and see if anyone watched.

Tim Richmond, one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, was the latest subject featured in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series.

One of the highlights of the film was ancient interviews and racing footage from ESPN’s early years, a kinder and gentler era in Cup racing history. There were no busy scrolls at the top and bottom of the screen distracting viewers back then lest they not know an NFL score. There was a lap counter in the upper right hand corner of the screen you had to squint to read. Broadcasters tended to focus on the action on track and not announce what other programming was coming up on the network later that week. The paint schemes were by and large simpler in Richmond’s era and they actually looked like “stock” cars. See, that one there’s a Pontiac, that’s a Buick, that’s a Chevy, and that one there is a Ford. Maybe if you strained your eyes real hard, you might be able to make out a Toyota parked in the very far corner of the parking lot, but it probably belonged to a Porta-Johnnie attendant. Back then, NASCAR drivers raced what we drove and we drove what they raced. You never saw a No. 3 decal in the back of a Thunderbird, at least not after 1983.

The race footage was used sparingly, as it had to be given the amount of story to be told and the time allotted (I have a feeling that To The Limit would have made an even better two-hour film), but it was refreshing to see. I have expended a novel’s length of words trying to convince fans who never saw him race that Tim Richmond was one of the best, if not the very best, when it came to car control. Watching him set a driver like Earnhardt up for a pass, getting under his opponent’s car, getting his own car completely sideways at the same time, and still making the pass was possible back then. Improbable and thrilling, but possible back in the era of bias ply tires when legends like Richmond and Dale Earnhardt still roamed the earth.

Watching Tim Richmond drive a road course was like watching da Vinci sketch out the Mona Lisa. At times even the broadcasters were reduced to silence just watching him, particularly during Richmond’s final career win at Riverside. I’m told that day several drivers and crew members of cars that had fallen out of the race ran to prime viewing spots on the hill overlooking the course just to watch the magic.

No, Tim Richmond wasn’t like the other drivers. He was too polished, too well off, and sported a hundred dollar haircut. As shown in the film, he was the first of the drivers to arrive in the garage area aboard a Harley Davidson, a now de rigueur fashion accessory for most drivers. He wore flame retardant balaclava and a full face helmet back before anyone else. In light of how he passed, Tim’s insistence on wearing what he needed to protect his safety on track is sadly ironic to those of us who know how he died.

ESPN and Tim Richmond owed each other a lot. They made him a household name with their weekly broadcasts. He was one of the sport’s brightest stars that kept people tuning in week after week, even if they didn’t particularly like the man. You didn’t have to like his hairstyle, his accent, or his demeanor, but if you knew crap about racing you knew to keep an eye on him late in the race. He was likely going to be a factor, if he wasn’t already leading or hadn’t wrecked out. Tim was one of the great ones, and no less an authority than Saint Dale said so. It’s ironic that Earnhardt and Richmond were such good friends carousing out on Lake Norman together whenever time allowed while fans of the two drivers, the blue collar Southern icon and the rich Yankee out of Ohio, tended to hate each other.

ESPN and Tim Richmond were a match made in Heaven. They needed action, and he provided plenty of it. Off the track Richmond was articulate, occasionally achingly funny, and unlike some other drivers ESPN didn’t need subtitles to translate interviews for Yankees. The cameras were drawn to Richmond like the pretty young ladies, and he reveled in the attention of both.

The film goes on to document the 1986 season, the best of Richmond’s career. ESPN was along for the ride that summer when Tim became all but unbeatable. Wisely paired by team owner Rick Hendrick with crafty old crew chief Harry Hyde, Tim finally lived up to his full potential. Richmond and Hyde, two polar opposites, didn’t get along at first. The change of heart came at a test session, as noted in the film. Hyde let Richmond run fifty laps the way he wanted, then Tim agreed to drive fifty laps the way Hyde coached him to. Faced with the evidence of a stopwatch, Richmond had no choice but to agree Harry knew better.

Rick Hendrick’s decision to pair Richmond with legendary crew chief Harry Hyde worked wonders in 1986, the combo winning seven times and scoring eight poles en route to third in the Cup Series standings behind Dale Earnhardt.

That’s the point of the film where I almost turned it off. After all, I knew the end of the story. There was Tim Richmond, the hottest driver in the sport, finally having reached his potential. His fans were certain 1987 would yield even better results, more race wins and the long anticipated title fight between Earnhardt and Richmond. If I were a gambler even back then, I’d have put my money on Richmond. But at the end of the season, fans were stunned to learn the challenger was taking a leave of absence from racing and he’d be out the first part of the 1987 season. The initial diagnosis was double pneumonia, as hinted at by Tim’s coughing during several interviews shown in the film.

We know now, of course, that Tim Richmond had AIDS. And if the ’80s were a kinder and gentler time in stock car racing, it was a meaner and frightening time for those diagnosed with AIDS. While the medical community knew how the virus was spread, the general population was still ignorant on the topic of what was still widely referred to as the “gay plague.” If a fellow had AIDS, most people assumed he either had to be gay or an intravenous drug user. Such a man would almost certainly lose his job, be evicted from his condo or apartment, and would be shunned by his neighbors and most of his friends. In their ignorance, some people feared that AIDS was like the flu and could be transmitted by casual contact or even being in the same room with someone infected with HIV. In retrospect, had Tim chosen to come forward to announce he was, in fact, HIV positive and had contracted the disease through heterosexual acts, it might have spared thousands of lives. In the reality of that era, such an admission would have cost him his home and the chance to ever drive a stock car again. Look what happened once NASCAR got hold of the rumor.

For me, at least the hardest part of the film to watch, and the one scene that made my eyes water was right at the opening of the film. Richmond was in a condo overlooking Charlotte as the field took their pace laps. To get closer to the sound of the start of the race, Richmond opened the door as the field came to the green, telling the unseen cameraman, “That’s what I used to do. That’s what I’m going to do again.” But if you’ve heard as many Tim Richmond interviews as I have, there was something unsettling about the tone of Tim’s voice and the look in his eyes. That wasn’t the determined and confident driver I recall. That was someone else, someone who sounded wistful and even unsure.

Once NASCAR had an inkling Tim was HIV positive, they were determined not to let him race. Richmond lined up a ride for the ’88 Busch Clash and knew when he arrived at the track he’d be subject to NASCAR’s new drug testing policy. He’d stopped taking his AIDS medications a month before to preserve his privacy. Still, NASCAR announced Richmond had failed the drug test. His career was effectively over, as only months later would NASCAR admit the “substance” found in Richmond’s blood was an over the counter cold medication. Richmond sued NASCAR, but a friendly judge agreed with NASCAR’s request for Tim to turn over his complete medical records for the trial to begin. An out of court settlement was reached, the amount never disclosed, and Richmond began slipping away into obscurity.

When Richmond’s drug test when sour, even on-track rival Dale Earnhardt, Sr. asked to plead his case in front of NASCAR’s czar at the time, Bill France, Jr. It didn’t work, the Frances standing their ground while their once-rising superstar would live out his remaining time in isolation.

One part of that weekend in Daytona not shown in the film that would have been welcome was Tim’s response to being banned from the race. Originally, Tim planned to have one of those sign towing planes circle the speedway with a rude message directed at NASCAR. His close friend Linda Vaughan (Miss Hurst) convinced him to alter the plan. Instead, the banner the plane towed over the track read, “To my fans, I miss you, Tim Richmond.” I think his favorite part of the film would have been an interview with four of his friends sitting at a bar all these years after Richmond passed, still recounting his prowess on the track, recalling him fondly and raising a toast to his memory.

It hasn’t always been easy being a Tim Richmond fan. Some people have gotten in my face and told me NASCAR was justified in what they did because had he been hurt in a wreck and bleeding freely, the ambulance crews attending to him would have been put at risk. You know what? If someone was badly hurt in the grandstands or infield that weekend and bleeding freely, those same ambulance crews would have been called. Those well-intended medics would have no idea if their patient practiced safe sex or shot up. By that point, most medics responding to traffic accidents knew to glove up and wear a mask.

Then there’s the old bug-a-boo briefly mentioned in “To the Limit.” After all, “Tim kilt all them ladies.” 60 Minutes said so, so it had to be true. Regrettably, nay tragically, Tim did in fact infect some of his partners just as one of his partners infected Tim. To say Tim “did this to them” is Neanderthal, hearkening back to the notion that men want sex, but women have no interest in it. Thus men ply women with booze and baubles to “get them to let them.”

If you accept a more modern notion that sex is an act two partners perform with each other, not one a man does to a woman, then both partners share a responsibility towards preventing an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. Dealing with a partner they don’t know well, not having had “the talk,” and not knowing who he might have slept with in the past, a woman has the right, actually the responsibility borne of the self-preservation instinct, to insist, “no admittance without proper attire” to put it politely. Some still insist that Tim Richmond knowingly infected women with AIDS even after he was aware he had AIDS.

With both her parents now gone, I hope Tim’s sister will forgive me for letting folks in on a little secret she shared with me over a decade ago. One of the side effects of AZT, the drug used to treat AIDS, is impotence. Draw your own conclusions. Once Tim was diagnosed, Sandy and their mother Evelyn traveled with Tim constantly. Neither of them even met Richmond’s chief accuser, the “virgin” who Tim tricked into sex by proposing marriage. The family, as noted in the film, was holding out hope a miracle drug would be developed and Tim would be cured. Even Tim was in denial he was a dying man.

Sadly, decades later we are still waiting for that miracle drug. In the meantime, Tim Richmond’s parents lost their son, Sandy her beloved brother, and Tim’s millions of fans, their hero. No matter who was at fault, that’s the sad ending to the story. If not for that one encounter Richmond had with some unnamed woman, he would probably have retired by now, a multi-time champion and a fan favorite. We’d be still be heralding his victories and accomplishments, not mourning his passing.

Can some good come of tragedy? Maybe this film can make it so. I’d suggest to parents with teenage children interested in racing, but have no idea who Tim Richmond was, that they watch this film with their age-appropriate children. Use the sad ending to the story to open a discussion about AIDS. Here’s someone who had it all: the talent, the money, the women, the fame and success, but in the end what did in a six foot tall man in excellent shape was a tiny little virus you’d need a microscope to see. AIDS is no longer front page news. More recently the Ebola virus, then the H1N1 flu were going to become pandemics and wipe out the human race.

But AIDS is still out there. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 22 blacks will contract AIDS during their lifetimes. 1 in 178 white people in America will contract AIDS during their lifetime. How many people live in your neighborhood? How many people were in the club you hung out at last weekend? How many students attend your child’s school? Yeah, I guess it’s easier to hope your kids aren’t going to have sex until they’re in their 20s, and they’ll pick up the info they need on AIDS in the classroom. Oddly enough, his or her teachers won’t be paying for the funeral or crying in the front row.

To the Limit was a fine little film given its time constraints and the constraints of the time it depicts. That ESPN would choose Tim Richmond to be one of just thirty athletes honored in their 30 for 30 series speaks volumes about his place in the sport’s history. And to those four guys in the bar, forward me the bill through this website. The next round is on me. And add in a champagne chaser. This is, after all, Tim Richmond we’re toasting.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

Thursday on the Frontstretch:
Fanning the Flames: The Next ‘Secret’ Fine, McGrew’s Mistake And RPM Divorce
Dialing It In: Hamlin’s Time To Strike
Voices From the Heartland: Brian France’s Denial Appears Contagious!
Fantasy Insider: Johnson’s Numbers Great, Gordon’s Staggering At Paperclip

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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phil h
10/21/2010 12:41 AM

Matt…..wonderful read and kudos for your insight on Tim.Those of us old enough or longtime fans of the sport remember Tim Richmond and the competitor he was in Nascar.There’s no doubt he was of the same driving caliber of Earnhardt and had he lived,those two would have put on many a show.

If there’s a racing heaven, I’m sure Tim welcomed Dale with a “first one to the finish line!”

Brian Mc
10/21/2010 01:32 AM

And people say you can’t write? That was a fine piece of writing, Matt. It was a very moving show and vividly recalls those times. I urge any fan to check this presentation out for an important part of motorsports history. Great show, great read. Keep doin’ it.

10/21/2010 02:05 AM

I’m just as shocked as Matt is that NASCAR let their dirty little secret out into the open.

He’s right in saying that there’s been almost no mention of Richmond until very recently. He’s right in saying that being a vocal Tim Richmond fan has been a pain in the ass, because when someone wants to one-up you in an argument, it’s always “He kilt all dem wimmin!”, even though, as was explained in the final segment of last night’s documentary, Richmond was diagnosed in late 1986, and could have been infected as early as the late 1970s without knowing, especially with all of the ignorance surrounding AIDS at that time.

What Matt forgot to mention in detail is that the racing footage shown in the documentary was By Gawd RACING, the kind you don’t see anymore. No racing for points, no cookie cutter cars on cookie cutter tracks driven by cookie cutter drivers in front of a dwindling number of asses in the seats, but racing the way whatever deity you prefer and Bill France Sr. and Jr. intended it to be, not this bastardized, boring thing created by Lil’ Brian.

And soon, the one who is many will come in here to crap on the article, or maybe tell you how some so-called “champion” from today is better than this guy they had never heard of, but they’re wrong.

What racing you saw on the 30 For 30 Documentary? That was NASCAR racing. And it was a hell of a sight.

10/21/2010 06:30 AM

I had not known the Tim Richmond story (I am only five years into NASCAR) so I am thankful to ESPN for making the documentary which finally gave Tim the accolades and attention he deserved after NASCAR abandoned him. Such a sad story. Thanks for the great write up Matt.

10/21/2010 06:31 AM

WOW… I bet if Noah had raced the Arc Matt would write a boring column about that too. Get OUT of the past!!!

FACT: Tim Richmond could NEVER, I repeat NEVER make the chase (that second “never” was for Jacob)

He even drove for Hendrick and couldn’t make the Chase. That doesn’t make him a hero – that makes him the Dale Jr of his time.

And the “racing” everyone is talking about it just down-right STUPID unsafe. I’ve posted many times about the lack of safety in the cars, tracks and equipment, but the lack of drug testing is just ASKING for trouble.

I’m sure Dale Sr would have sang a different tune had Richmond ended HIS racing career cause he was higher than a kite. Say what you want about Sterling… But at least we know he was sober in 2001.

And finally Matt. Thanks for the groudBREAKING research for this article. If I had known all that “journalism” required was watching ESPN and riding their coat tails I would have changed my major years ago. Shoot… Let me pull up wikipedia and see what other scholarly sources I can follow today…

With all the news in NASCAR today you continually refuse to stay up to date. Clocks move forward Matt… Maybe you should move on..

10/21/2010 07:01 AM

Tim Richmond could never make the Chase? Uh, Randy, NASCAR did in fact exist before 2004.

Might I add, it had more fans then.

10/21/2010 08:04 AM

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the film was. I totally expected it to be much more sterile – given ESPN and NASCAR’s relationship, as well as the fact the it was produced by NASCAR. Its a little unfortunate that no one from NASCAR could comment on why Tim was barred from competition 20 years ago, and what they’ve learned about handling this disease – from a medical preparedness and PR perspective – since. They were allowed to skate with Bill France saying their drug test was flawed – which they discovered after the fact. Convenient.

That said, it was a good celebration of Tim’s life, and his contribution to the growth of the sport.

Kevin in PA
10/21/2010 08:17 AM

Matt – again, great read. I am now angry with myself that I missed the show. But, if there is anyone out there like me, it will be shown again on ESPN Classic tonight at 11pm and again on ESPN Classic, Sunday Nov 14th at 5pm.
I will be setting up my DVR once I get home.

Oh, one more thing, Randy, shut up.

10/21/2010 08:32 AM

i was shocked when i heard that the show was being done, given na$car’s history of trying to hide the fact that tim raced in their series.

yep kiddies, that’s where “days of thunder” came from.

i’ve often wondered how na$car history would have changed if tim and lived, along with davey allison. they would have given dale a run for his money and those 7 championships.

the footage…wonderful racing.

ignorant folks like randy, well there’s always one in the crowd.
as diehard of a earnhardt sr fan i was (am), i think even he would have had difficulty making the chase. look at how the older driver that still compete have trouble with this new piece of crap car that they drive.

i was pleasantly surprised with the show on tim. just proved to me that na$car will always rule the show, regardless of legality. hopefully jeremy mayfield watched so he can give up the ghost and stop spending money on fighting his ban. guilty or not, it’s na$car’s ball and they make the rules. how convenient of them to say years down the road, oops the test was flawed and mis handled. just adds to na$car’s credibility.

Carl D.
10/21/2010 08:51 AM

Frontstretch staff…

It specifically says on here that “The only comments that will not be published are comments that serve only to personally attack another commenter or the article writer.” Yet RandyGoldman’s posts are continually allowed.

It would be one thing if he contributed to the discussion, but all he ever does is trash Matt (and a few other writers) with insults and childish rants. You have his IP address… ban him and all his aliases. What a jerk!

On topic… the ESPN documentary was great. When they talked about how all the nurses gathered in his hospital room to watch the segment on his career as he lay dying, it brought tears to this old man’s eyes.

10/21/2010 09:12 AM

Matt, hands down the single best article that I have seen you write. (and I am not writing that as a slur)

Tim was a great driver, although I hated watching him beat Dale. I was so disappointed that the ’86 Bud at the Glen was won by him, and not Dale.
The weekend seemed like a complete waste at the time. I was almost arrested at the track for setting off fireworks. My dog contracted heartworm and nearly died 3 months later, and Tim ran away with the show in a spectacular fashion. The only bright spot was when Richard Petty and Bobby Hillin Jr. got together and spun, Petty’s car ended up less than 10 feet from where I was standing. I still have a series of pictures as the wreck occurs.
As the years passed, it became apparent to me just what kind of magic I had seen witnessed that day. It is a cherished memory.

10/21/2010 09:23 AM

The film was excellent, and this column is excellent. I could repeat what I said on another site, but I won’t. I will add that were Tim alive, yes, he’d probably be retired now from driving, but gawdawlmighty I can only imagine how hot a ticket would be to his parties at his suite (and he would have one) at any track where he attended a race.

BTW: I don’t understand why (though I am doing it now to make a point) why y’all keep feeding Randy. Did your mothers or grandmothers never tell you about the consequences of feeding cats?

Carl D.
10/21/2010 09:49 AM


My grandmother was from the country and she shot unwanted cats.

10/21/2010 10:45 AM

The film was great, one of the best in the 30 for 30 series. I only knew a little about Richmond before, but now I wish I got a chance to see him race. All the non-Southern drivers who broke in during the 1990s, 2000s own Richmond a thank you. Without him there might not be a Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson. If they had made Days of Thunder a true bio of him it might have won an Oscar.

10/21/2010 11:00 AM

Sorry, Randy,
This schtick of yours has to be an act. It is simply not possible you are as stupid as you come across. A fire hydrant couldn’t be that stupid. They’d have to duct tape your jaw shut prior to a shower to keep you from drowning if you were in fact that stupid.

If you were to have taken a moment from your all consuming passion of plumming new depths of stupidity, and given your ridiculous premise of a Chase points system back in the 80s with 12 drivers making the cut with ten races left to go, an idea that belongs in the front foyer of the Stupidity Hall of Fame bronzed, do the math. Tim would have made the Chase in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986. He’d have lost the Chase to Earnhardt in 1986 by about 69 points despite his season finale win at Riverside.

51 years I have roamed this earth. I’ve been on top of mountains and I’ve been to the valley. I’ve been in back alleys and I’ve been on freeways. I’ve traveled to all 50 states. And in those 51 years there’s only one thing that I’ve ever encountered stupider than you…the whole premise of the Chase.

Hopefully you didn’t get sent home from middle school today for telling your history teacher to get with the times. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Which hopefully means you are an only child because it’s already deep enough at the shallow end of the gene pool without another you doing cannonballs into the slime.

10/21/2010 11:05 AM

If Tim Richmond came along today, with TMZ, deadspin, etc, would he be able to reach the heights that he did? I think the saturation of coverage would have impacted him.

10/21/2010 11:16 AM

Thanks for sharing your take on the Richmond story, Matt. I started watching racing after Tim was gone, but I’ve heard Dale Sr. talk about him many, many times and I always wished he were still racing.

10/21/2010 11:28 AM

Matt – Another great article and a great reply to Brian Frances twin.

10/21/2010 12:14 PM

What a great article and the documentary was great. I always wonder what might have happened if Richmond had lived.

How many championships would he have won? So many other questions remain unanswered.

Like someone earlier mentioned, if they had made “Days of Thunder” truly about Tim, it would have been a great movie about a great driver.

Loved the documentary showing all of the old racing. This was back when the drivers actually raced all 500 miles instead of just racing the last few miles.

Also, Randy, are you sure that you don’t work at Brian France’s office? Your remarks are so stupid that they could only come from someone closely associated with France.

10/21/2010 12:44 PM

I was just disappointed that instead of celebrating Tim’s driving skill and his accomplishments, it seems the great majority of time was spent on his demise.

10/21/2010 12:47 PM

Will never forget watching him when he started out on the short tracks here in Ohio,you could tell even then he was a cut above the rest.
What I can’t understand is how someone as ignorant as this goldman character can even use a computer?
What an ASS!!!

Kevin in SoCal
10/21/2010 12:52 PM

Randy, normally you have a point in your Matt-bashing, but this time you’re just way out of line. You’re wrong.

10/21/2010 01:46 PM

The side-by-side racing with Rudd at Riverside was awesome. The ADD crowd will never understand…even with old video.

Steve R.
10/21/2010 01:54 PM

Having seen Tim race, I believe he was one of the best ever. Even Dale said so. The show was outstanding and showed how badly he was treated by Nascar and the other drivers due to not understanding his situation. I think you article was on the mark and well written. Nice job.

10/21/2010 02:08 PM

Nicely written article. That’s why we read you on a regular basis. Great job………….

@Randy – calling you a moron does a disservice to morons. Seek professional assistance soon.

10/21/2010 03:38 PM

Great article Matt. I was fortunate to see Tim race. He had car control like nobody else. I was a Dale Sr. fan, but grew to be a fan of Tim’s also. It’s a shame the way he was treated by Nascar. When it came to AID’s people were ignorant.

I think if Tim had lived, Dale Sr. and Jeff Gordon would have a few less championships. All the potential was there. It was just a matter of time.

Keep up the good work Matt.

10/21/2010 03:44 PM

If you are so concerned about “freedom of speech” Randy, then why do you berate everyone else when they give their opinions.

Thankfully, some of us realize that NASCAR did not begin with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Many of us appreciate people like Curtis Turner, Cale Yarbrough and Tim Flock. From reading your writings, you probably would not know who those people and would need to google them to find out.

Please study some of the history of this sport. It has been around a long time and has a great history and many great personalities.

10/21/2010 03:57 PM

Nice article.

I thought it was an excellent film. I wish it would have been longer, though. It was very moving at times and it was fascinating to see how into the race that the crowd was when Richmond won at Pocono. It was great to see all the interviews with such a colorful character.

NASCAR has such a colorful, fascinating, dangerous, and moving history that it is idiotic to say that it shouldn’t be talked about. It doesn’t just belong in a history book. It should be a living, breathing thing that brought NASCAR as far as it did in popularity especially in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Other sports constantly run documentaries on their past. NASCAR should be no different. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The Past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

Carl D.
10/21/2010 04:03 PM


Well said.

10/21/2010 04:09 PM

Good article,and I for one never had a problem with being a Tim fan.Didn’t care who liked it or not,the man could wheel the hell out of a car.Know Nascar would never admit it but they recieved alot of fans having Tim in thier ranks.Think what scared all those around nascar is a few needed to change thier lives when on the road,known would want to admit they possibly could have went home and infected the mother of thier children and tarnish thier family image to the public.

10/21/2010 04:30 PM

One of my all time favorite articles Matt! Good job and a very good show with the limited time of 1 hour. Richmond was a talented driver and I was fortunate enough to see him race many times in the 80’s. Can you really imagine a race with Earnhardt, Richmond, Davey Allison, Kulwicki, and everyone else! WOW! That would have been a hell of a championship battle. Thanks Matt!

10/21/2010 04:32 PM

Nice article, Matt. I watched it and was so glad that finally someone told the story about a driver I had only read about.

Any of us who were adult and I was a “young” adult then, remember the fear and hysteria about HIV/Aids. I wasn’t watching NASCAR regularly at that time – I really came back to the sport in 1992 when I moved to Atlanta so I missed seeing him race, but I enjoyed seeing the footage. All the drivers seemed to be having a lot more fun than in the current timeframe.

It was a sad ending to the story no doubt, but I was glad to see it told.

Don Mei
10/21/2010 04:34 PM

Wonderful article Matt. I really enjoyed it. Tim Richmond was clearly one of the finest American drivers to ever come along. I would again recommend David Pooles book “Tim Richmond: The Fast Life and Remarkable Times of Nascar’s Top Gun.” Its available on Amazon. A couple of other points if I may. Nascar’s disgraceful treatment of Richmond should be contrasted with the support that the NBA gave to Magic Johnson when he announced that he had contracted the Aids virus. Its a pathetic comparison and one Nascar should be ashamed of. Secondly, once again Ill remind everyone who comes here to engage in civilized discussion to completely ignore the minority of fools who only come here to draw attention to themselves. We all know people like that and their pathetic need for attention. Dont feed it.

10/21/2010 04:35 PM


I can tell you probably wrote and rewrote that article several times before turning it in because it is dripping with emotion, emotion for this sport we call NASCAR. That was a time when real men raced real cars at real exciting tracks for real points.

Keep up the good work and don’t ban Carl D. yet, give us old hands some more laughs for the rest of the year just to see what he comes up with next!!!

10/21/2010 04:39 PM

I’ve read most of your Richmond articles and I have to say, you’re pretty spot on with this article. Surprised you didn’t mention Bill France Jr. admitting that NASCAR botched the drug test. Yes it was a given, but to admit it like that and that he was interviewed about it 5 or so years ago was a wow moment for me.

I watched it with my wife the other day. She’s always had this why do you worship this guy who drove when you were a teenager? So, I said sit and watch, these 30 for 30’s are very well done and not the typical ESPN fare. So we did. She was floored by the driving, the stories, and got a little misty eyed by physical deterioration, the hacking fits, and then absolutely shocked by the “Dead at 34” headline. I just sat and appreciated the story, which had to be told warts and all, Matt. We can gloss over the bad but it had to be told. I really wish they’d have shown the Michigan race with driver’s meeting in 87 where he came in to the meeting out of it and then allegedly pegged the odometer.

I’ve done a little research and did not see where impotence is a side effect of AZT, perhaps of the other parts of the drug cocktail, but it IS plausible that the woman in the documentary was telling the truth. We can’t dismiss her simply because of hero worship. One of the problems I had with the David Poole bok as well as some of the documentary is Tim’s sister seemed to dismiss all of the women he hooked up with. I mean charisma is charisma whether he was a driver or just a guy who came from money. He likely would not have had a problem bedding women.

Anyway, that’s my $.02. Thought it was well done, and much like Tim’s life, left you wanting more.

10/21/2010 04:44 PM

Randy, if you hate NASCAR history and obviously Matt so much, why do you bother reading his articles?

You say that people are more interested in the current goings on of NASCAR than in the history? I don’t think so — based on the current downward ratings for TV and lack of attendance, it’s my opinion that there are a lot of fans who’d much rather see the OLD style racing — side by side with cars we could recognize than the dreck we have to deal with now if we want to continue to follow NASCAR as it exists.

Don Mei
10/21/2010 04:48 PM

Gee Matt, I guess you REALLY dont like the chase! LOL. As a fellow roamer (67 years, sigh) A quick high five to you! And remember the old saying..dont let the bastards get you down!

10/21/2010 11:29 PM

More Tim Richmond stuff? Let it go. He wasn’t half as good as his legend has made him out to be. It’d be like if Kyle Busch died today….can you honestly see yourself in 20 years saying these same things about HIM? I doubt it.

Brain France Sucks..... but Goldman is a 'tard
10/22/2010 12:10 AM

Actually Randy, the lack of fans in the stands attests to the lack of interest in current NA$CAR. You know, the NA$CAR designed by the guy who you worship. This “charade” masked as racing is in the downward spiral. What took 50 years to build is being ruined in 10. It has nothing to do with Earnhardt passing and everything to do with greed and woefully narrow-minded, inept people in charge of the sport. Brian France has about as much connection with the pulse of NA$CAR as the Walton grandchildren do with the average Wal-Mart shopper. He is a hypocrite, and easily the worst “president” of any professional sports body around the world. He makes Bernie Ecclestone look like Nelson Mandela. Say what you want about “The golden era of Winston Cup”, but there were never cautions for hot dog wrappers or invisible drive-shafts with ten laps to go, nor were there point systems that allow slackers to finally get it right over the last 30% of the season. The track lineup was unquestionably superior than now. And the racing coverage was even better. Hell, the Diamond P coverage of NHRA or even the swamp races was better. Granted, the picure quality was much worse, and there were less cameras, but the people who called the races didn’t shill network “shows” or literally suck off their favorite team owner/drivers on screen. This means you Waltrip. NA$CAR today is a shell of what it once was. It tried to grow bigger than it could, got greedy, and overestimated its appeal when constructing abominations for speedways that had more seats to fill, but less action to showcase.

10/22/2010 12:54 AM

No the same things would not be said about Busch because he has a terrible personality. It seems like he has no fun at all racing except when he wins. With Richmond it seemed just like a joy for him to be out there on the track. I liked when Richmond said in the documentary that racing was an art form. Today it seems that all the fun has been drained out of it.

Richmond would not be the first personality to die young and a legend made around him. And after the way he was treated by NASCAR and the virtual ignoring of him for years I think that there isn’t anything wrong with recognizing him as a great driver and colorful personality.

10/22/2010 01:14 AM

Nah, I doubt I’d remember old Vile Kyle too fondly. But then again I never shot a game of pool against Kyle and he never bought me and my buds a round of beers like Tim did.

The current generation of drivers seems to check thier souls and balls at the door before entering the track for a race weekend so they can take on the role of sponsor spewing automons where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the clouds are not cloudy all day. Deers, antelopes and what not etc.

Bad Wolf
10/22/2010 06:11 AM

Hey Randy, Hows the weather in Daytona Beach?

Thanks for another great read Matt.

Bill B
10/22/2010 08:14 AM

Great article Matt. The documentary was excellent although I agree with someone above that mentioned too much emphasis was placed on his demise and not enough on his racing career. Even knowing that the most exciting clips from the races were used in the documentary, it was easy to see where you are coming from when you compare today’s racing to the racing in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Kevin in SoCal
10/22/2010 12:57 PM

Randy said: “Wow… so much for freedom of speech. Folks like to respect the “traditions” of NASCAR but not the constitution.”

Randy, what you and many other people who cry “freedom of speech” fail to realize is that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says that the GOVERNMENT can make no law forbidding you to speak your mind in a pleasant manner. PRIVATE companies, including this website, are not lawfully bound to that amendment. They can censor you, limit your posts, or whatever they want. Yes you’re welcome to post your opinion, but keep in mind we’re also welcome to post our opinion disagreeing with you.

Brian Mc
10/23/2010 02:55 AM

@ElectricPeterTork I hear you loud and clear brotha!

10/24/2010 09:39 AM

Great read as usual Matt, For as long as I can remember I’ve been reading your articles, followed you from site to site the reason being, You have never let Tim Richmond be forgotton, that alone makes you an excellent writer for this sports past & present ,(whats left of it).Keep up the good work.