Celebrating Tim Richmond With a Race
There was a time when Tim Richmond was NASCAR's Playboy. He was young, good looking and could drive the wheels off a race car.
Had he not passed away, many say he would have won a lot more races and multiple championships.
Richmond started racing in NASCAR in 1981 and was in the winners circle for the first time a year later at Riverside, beating Terry Labonte. He went on to complete the sweep by winning the season ending race that was held there as well.
In 1983, now with a new team, Richmond won his first of four races at the Pocono Raceway.
Then in 1986 he signed with Hendrick Motorsports and drove the No. 25 Folgers Coffee car, an image that is synonymous with Tim Richmond.
He went out and won two more races at Pocono and a total of seven races that year along with eight poles. However, late year misfortunes ended his year third in the final point standings. Just six points out of second.
Things were looking up, the team was in place and Richmond was rising to the top.
However, a year later things took a turn for the race.
Having been diagnosed with HIV, even though the racing world was told that he had an pneumonia, he was unable to race in the early part of the season.
Except, he was able to make a return at a track that he was unstoppable on: Pocono.
Richmond was able to out run Bill Elliott to the checkered flag, one that he said he ever saw because of the tears in his eyes. And the following week, he would hold off Ricky Rudd for his final Sprint Cup Series win at Riverside.
Richmond did try to race again, in what is now the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona, but rumors were started saying he was a drug user. When NASCAR began doing drug tests, Richmond stopped taking his medications for HIV in order to pass the test.
Ironically, NASCAR suspended Richmond just days later for what they said was testing positive for a banned substance. It later turned out that it was just cold medicine.
Even after Richmond passed his second test, NASCAR wouldn't let him race unless he turned over his medical records.
He was unable to find a ride for the race and hired a plane to fly over the track with a banner reading "Fans I miss you-Tim Richmond."
Richmond passed away a year later on August 13, 1989 in Florida.
Now, 20 years later the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be paying tribute to Tim Richmond when they race at Mansfield Motorsports Park in Ohio.
The race will be the Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 250.
"Tim Richmond won the 1981 ARCA 200 at Daytona, and he won in supermodifieds at our Toledo Speedway track," said ARCA President Ron Drager. "We're proud to have played a role in the development of Tim's amazing racing career, and we look forward to helping make the inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 at Mansfield a success."
Richmond does have a win the Series, he won Daytona in his first ever ARCA start. He is also a past Rookie of the Year for the Indianapolis 500.
"I believe it is time to share his memory with new fans and give his still-existent fan base an opportunity to remember many of his great and precious moments," said Sandy Welsh, Richmond's sister.
"This celebration will also provide us the opportunity to draw attention to AIDS, the disease that cut Tim's life short, and assist those that are suffering from this cruel disease. We want to do what we can to motivate the discovery of a cure for AIDS and give Tim's life even more meaning."
The race will be run on June 20.
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