I've never been a NASCAR fan. I'm obsessed with plenty of sports, car racing was just never one of them. But I knew who Dick Trickle was, just like plenty of sports fans. Mainly because his name caused juvenile humor to crop up in the brain. Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann in the early 90s on ESPN also had that same juvenile humor, so they endeavored to say his name as much as possible. It always stuck with me. So when news of his suicide came out earlier this year, I was saddened. I checked out the write-ups and got a superficial look at his life and death.
That's the way much of the media is today, and at SB Nation were not immune. News is timely, the Internet moves at warp speed, the pressure to keep up and keep current is always there. Speed is key. Still, the art of longform storytelling should not be forgotten and we're doing our best to keep it alive. We've created a special unit at SB Nation to take on the challenges of longform storytelling, which was detailed here.
Out of that idea comes a sterling article which deals with the death of Dick Trickle, but more importantly celebrates his life. He was a throwback to an earlier time, a guy who smoked cigarettes in his car during yellow caution flags. He was NASCAR's Rookie of the Year in 1989, at the tender age of 48! His life had been spent racing cars in the Midwest while wearing snakeskin cowboy boots. He was what people thought a race car driver was before the corporate sponsors and the money rolled in, forcing a new image and a new mindset in the world of NASCAR.
Based on much of his life, and based on what people knew of him, the suicide just didn't seem to make sense. But as usual, there was more to the story than what appears on the surface. There was tragedy. There was pain. Unbearable pain.
I won't go into details here. I couldn't do it justice in a short format such as this. Instead, I urge you to head over and read for yourself. Even if you're not a car racing fan, you'll find it very informative, emotional, and it brings to life the parts of a man's life many didn't know about. If you're a car racing fan, then you have to go read it.
I can't say enough about the incredible job done by the author, Jeremy Markovich. Congrats Jeremy, you got the checkered flag. He was assisted by his pit crew, producer Chris Mottram, editor Glenn Stout and copy editor Kevin Fixler. Congrats everyone!
RIP, Dick Trickle.