By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
In our spotlight story, we’re going to look at the racing career of the late Tim Richmond. He passed away on August 13, 1989, at 34-years-old.
The Ohio native was a multi-talented driver, who began in CART (now IndyCar), before eventually making the switch to NASCAR. In 1980, he was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.
Like many race car drivers, he grew up competing in go-karts. During a summer in Ohio, he met drag racer Raymond Beadle — who has since passed away — through friend Fred Miller.
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While at Miami Military Academy, he competed in track and field and football. His jersey was even retired by the football team.
The school named him the Athlete of the Year in 1970. Following high school, he joined Dave Shoemaker’s sprint car team as a crew member.
Then, as a 21-year-old in 1976, he got to drive the Sprint Car at Lakeville Speedway in Lakeville, Ohio. The next year, he moved to a SuperModified car.
In 1977, he was named the Sandusky Speedway Rookie of the Year and the SuperModified Class Track Champion. Then, in 1978, he returned to Sprint Cars, competing on the United States Automobile Club (USAC) national tour.
He won the Rookie of the Year. He then made the switch to IndyCar in 1979.
His first career race was at Michigan International Speedway. He finished last at the race following a blown motor. Richmond then replaced Larry Rice at the CART race at Watkins Glen International.
He then finished eighth in the race. He competed in eight CART events.
Despite three CART starts in 1980, he competed five times in now, which is called the NASCAR Cup Series, and two more races in the USAC tour. He had 13 wins during his career in the series now known as the Cup Series.
He won a career-high seven races during the 1986 season in 29 starts. Eight of his wins came at Riverside International Raceway or Pocono Raceway.
He also won at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Darlington Raceway, and Richmond Raceway. During many of his wins, he had Folger’s, as his sponsor, for nine of his wins.
He won twice with Old Milwaukee with also a win each sponsored by J.D. Stacy and Stacy-Pak.
Nine of the wins were with Hendrick Motorsports. Two were with Beadle and the other two were with Jim Stacy.
Besides competing in the series now known as the Cup Series, Richmond also competed in the series now known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He had two wins in the series in 10 starts.
He won at Charlotte in 1985, then won at the same track in 1986.
Richmond also had two starts in the ARCA Menards Series and one start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He won at the 1981 Daytona ARCA 200.
He also competed in the NASCAR North Tour.
After the 1986 NASCAR banquet, Richmond became ill. He had a lengthy hospital visit in Cleveland, Ohio that caused him to miss the 1987 Daytona 500.
He was battling double pneumonia. The media also reported that he was reportedly dealing with AIDS — the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Richmond then returned to the seat at Pocono to compete in the Miller High Life 500 and won the race despite mechanical problems with the gearbox. Later that year, he resigned from his driving position with Hendrick Motorsports in Sept. 1987.
Richmond denied that he had AIDS. NASCAR hit Richmond with a suspension due to a violation from testing positive for a banned substance.
The substance that he took was Sudafed and Advil. He then sued NASCAR over the suspension.
He was reinstated to the sport later in the season. However, it was already too late and he was not able to garner a ride.
He denied abusing drugs and settled the lawsuit with NASCAR out of court. Richmond also had an unknown hospital visit in West Palm Beach, Florida.
A short time later, he then passed away on August 13, 1989. He is buried in Ashland, Ohio.
He was inducted into the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also named by NASCAR in 1998 as one of their 50 greatest drivers of all time.
Richmond was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002. Several NASCAR drivers have driven cars in honor of Tim Richmond.
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