If you didn’t make it to the 6th Annual Legends Helping Legends Fundraiser, you missed out on a great event. Despite the bad weather which kept some of the bike riders like Don Tilley away and caused a delay in Buddy Parrott showing up, the number of drivers, media people, and former crew chiefs was amazing.
The crowd of autograph seeking fans was backed up when I arrived, so I did a quick pass-through to see who all was there signing autographs. Perennials Ned Jarrett, my good friend Rex White, Rex’s former crew chief Slick Owens, writer/author Tom Higgins, Li’l Bud Moore, Jim Vandiver, Brownie King, my “neighbor” and friend Peanut Turman, Paul Lewis, Bill Mangum, along with a few others that slip my mind were there along with some returning folks like championship crew chief Waddell Wilson, Neil “Soapy” Castles, Mitzi Moody, and others.
For the first time, America’s winningest driver (with over 1,000 wins) & former Cup and Busch Series driver, Dick Trickle was there. Lynn Evans (widow of Richie Evans) and Richie’s crew chief were there along with the HOF ring. That’s the first time I’ve seen any sort of ring like that. The blue stone in the center definitely caught my eye.
I ran into a few friends I hadn’t seen recently. Don Good, who first told me about the Legends Helping Legends events 6 years ago, and race fan extraordinaire Harlow Reynolds. Don was joking with me saying I needed to write more because everything I’d been writing lately he’d agreed with. Harlow asked me how I snuck in without him noticing me. Maybe it’s good to be incognito sometimes.
I decided to join the line of fellow fans and make my way through the autograph tables. Waddell had the “seat of honor” I guess you’d call it being first up. My favorite Wisconsin driver, Dick Trickle, sat next to him. Dick noticed the t-shirt I was wearing. It’s my sole surviving Dick Trickle Fan Club shirt. It just so happens that the cards Dick was signing were of the artwork that were used on the shirt. I still had one of the old Schneider National Cards from when Dick drove for Jimmy Spencer, which he was surprised to see, and a die-cast of the Junie Donlavey #90 Taurus he drove. I asked Dick about the “White Knight” car that was behind him. He said it was a replica built by some fans in Chicago. I thought that was an awesome tribute to Dick.
As I made my way around the tables, a number of folks mistook my Dick Trickle shirt for a Carl Edwards shirt because of the #99. Francis Flock, Tim Flock’s widow, was being interviewed as I worked my way around. When I got near where my buddy Rex White had been sitting, he spotted me and rushed back over to his seat to autograph a couple of photos I had taken at a previous Legends Helping Legends event. Rex was looking pretty dapper in his turtle neck shirt and sports coat. He asked me if I had dropped off some crackers for him. Of course, I had. It’s sort of a tradition between the two of us. As we’re both diabetic, I know Rex always keeps a pack or two of crackers with him in case his blood sugar drops. He said “I was busy signing autographs, looked up, and there were all these crackers there”. I asked Rex when he’d be back home so I could call him and we could do some talking. So now that I know when, I’ll be giving him a call. He said the last time he visited his family for a week, his answering machine was so full of messages he knows he missed a bunch of calls.
Margaret Sue Wright, Curtis Turner’s daughter, was busy doing an interview so I didn’t get a chance to talk with her but Harlow filled me in that she’s planning on putting together an event on the first Martinsville race weekend involving the old bootleggers’ roads and routes. That should be interesting considering I’ve driven a few of them locally. One of the more famous ones around here is actually named after the bootlegger who used it. Daniel’s Run. So as soon as I get some info on it I’ll be putting it out there.
Lynn Evans told me an interesting story. Lynn had always been interested in meeting a NASCAR driver from Wisconsin. So Richie called her up and told her she needed to get down to Daytona so she could meet one. Sure enough, Lynn made the trip to meet the driver. He had been a competitor of Richie’s in some races and she’d never paid attention to him back then. The driver? None other than Dick Trickle.
Barry Dodson had a funny story about Dick. Barry was Dick’s crew chief and at one track Dick was driving around the circuit during the parade laps. He got on the radio and said “Barry, I think we have a problem”. Barry radioed back asking Dick what the problem was. Dick said, “I can’t find my goggles”. This was before the full-face helmet was mandated and most drivers still used the open face helmet. Barry got back on the radio telling Dick to look around. Dick got back on the radio a little bit later and said, “Barry, find me some goggles, I’ll stop in the pits next time by and grab them”. Barry had one of the guys on the crew find some goggles. Dick gets back on the radio and tells Barry, “Never mind. I found them” (meaning the goggles). Barry radios back, “Where were they?”. Dick replies, “On top of my helmet”. You’d have to know Dick to understand how hilarious that was. During his career he made some of the funniest comments on the radio and in interviews and did them all with a straight face.
A gaggle of old timers were discussing Jeremy Mayfield and his situation. I’m not mentioning their names in order to protect their identities. One had said he’d seen Jeremy a number of times at his home and outside while Jeremy was working. He said that most drug users he’d seen showed a definite loss of muscle and muscle definition. Jeremy didn’t show any signs of that. It seems Jeremy has some “guns” on him that the driver’s suits didn’t reveal. He also said Jeremy didn’t show any of the sores or other signs of meth use. One of the other old timers said “Jeremy messed with the powers that be and you know what happens when you do that”. Considering who stated that, I found that to be very interesting based on his years of Cup experience.
As things wound down, I had a chance to talk with Dick Trickle a little more. He isn’t racing now. He said he’s doing the “grandfather thing”. I know how that goes being a grandfather myself. When Dick moved to North Carolina, he bought a nice sized chunk of land and built himself his country home on it. Then his daughter decided to move down and he gave her an acre. Then his son decided to move down and he gave his son an acre. It seems that Dick’s kids all wanted to be near their dad and left Wisconsin to join him. He still makes a few public appearances as Grand Marshal for some races like the Slinger Nationals. On the weekends, he might watch a race or two during the season just to keep up with things but doesn’t spend every weekend glued to the TV keeping up on what‘s going on. Dick still has two of his old race cars. One of them was the one he built to run in the 1989 season but got called to race in the Cup Series. He’s thinking about finishing it up and maybe restoring the other one. When Dick decided to hang up his helmet, he didn’t think it was fair to his fans to keep his fan club going so he dissolved it. His daughter put a lot of work into that fan club. I had some dealings with her during the years it was active and she was a great lady to talk with. One call from her sort of changed the way my life went when she told me I had won pit and garage team credentials for the April 1999 race at TMS. It sort of lead me to where I am today. Dick said he plans to continue to appear at the Legends Helping Legends events. So for all you Dick Trickle fans who are going through withdrawals, you might want to make your plans to see him at the 7th Annual Legends Helping Legends Fundraiser next year.
I’ve got to thank Alex Beam and his family for hosting this annual event and allowing fans to meet some of the racing greats of yesterday and some up & comers of tomorrow and all for a great cause. Helping out those who have medical needs who gave everything for NASCAR that NASCAR won’t help.