Count Down to the June 20th Inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA-RE/MAX 200; Tim Richmond's path to stardom began on Ohio short tracks
MANSFIELD, Ohio (March 26, 2009) - Tim Richmond was blessed with gifts that made him destined for greatness, both on and off the race track. With the support of a loving family, father - Al, mother - Evelyn and sister - Sondra, it was not long before that greatness was revealed.
He demonstrated he had star quality from an early age. He was a star athlete at his high school, Miami Military Academy. He set a conference record in high hurdles and was such an outstanding football player that his high school retired his jersey and named him Athlete of the Year in 1970.
He had a competitive streak that drove him to challenge himself when he wasn't in some type of competition with others, that included learning to fly at 16. He was also born with good looks and grew into a handsome young man. He could do just about anything he put his mind to without fail, and often without formal training. He exuded the attitude of success and confidence, and yet, for all his talent and charisma, he could be humble.
The life and times of Richmond, who would have turned 54 on June 7, will be celebrated with a major stock car race near his hometown on June 20th. The inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 will be presented at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park. The track is in the heart of "Tim Richmond Country," less than 15 miles from his one-time Ashland, Ohio hometown. Richmond passed away due to complications from AIDS on August 13, 1989, nearly 20 years ago.
Richmond came from a successful family in Ashland. His father, Al, built a company that manufactured boring machines used for buried pipeline installation and coal mining. Mr. Richmond designed and built the machines himself, and became a highly successful businessman. That success allowed him to dote on the only son he and wife, Evelyn, had.
As a youth, Richmond had an interest in things that went fast starting with go-karts, as a boy and graduated to cars and airplanes as a teen. His parents gave him a Pontiac Trans Am for his 16th birthday. Surely an occasional street race or zipping up and down nearby Interstate 71 wasn't enough to satisfy his need for speed and performance. Still, it wasn't until age 22 when he got into his first real race car owned by a friend in 1976. He first drove a dirt Sprint car at Lakeville, Ohio. He showed some talent that season, but he wrecked several times, too.
The next season, his dad purchased a Supermodified, a unique pavement open-wheel race car featured at few tracks. One track in Ohio ran them on a weekly basis, Sandusky Speedway on Ohio's "north coast" near Lake Erie. Richmond went on to be the division's champion and rookie of the year.
In 1978, Richmond switched to USAC Sprint Cars and won a Mini-Indy Series event at Phoenix which grabbed the attention of IndyCar owners. Richmond made his first IndyCar start at Michigan in 1979 but finished last due to a blown engine. But his path had taken him into the major leagues of open-wheel racing.
In 1980, Richmond entered his first Indianapolis 500, and in a story book finish, Richmond finished ninth despite running out of fuel in the final laps. Johnny Rutherford won the race and had Richmond jump on the side-pod his car for a ride back to the pits as he was completing his victory lap. Both drivers were elated, and Indianapolis' sophisticated IndyCar crowd vocally celebrated both drivers' accomplishments.
A series of wrecks in the following races didn't discourage Tim, but his parents agreed they would be happy if he stopped racing altogether.
But his Indy performance had impressed many people, including Joe Mattioli, III, son of Pocono Raceway's owners Drs. Rose and Joe Mattioli. It was the younger Mattioli who brokered the deal that brought Richmond to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.
For more information about the ARCA RE/MAX Series, visit www.arcaracing.com. For more information about the Inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200, visit www.mansfieldmotorsportsonline.com.