Count Down to the June 20th Inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA-RE/MAX 200; Tim Richmond, Trailblazing from Indy Cars to NASCAR MANSFIELD, Ohio (April 2nd, 2009) - Twenty years after his passing, people who knew him well universally use two...
Count Down to the June 20th Inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA-RE/MAX 200; Tim Richmond, Trailblazing from Indy Cars to NASCAR
MANSFIELD, Ohio (April 2nd, 2009) - Twenty years after his passing, people who knew him well universally use two words to describe Tim Richmond: "a natural."
Richmond had a natural gift of star power, of race car driving abilities and of attracting friends and fans to his ultra competitive and happy universe.
Richmond, one of the first persons of notoriety to face the challenges of living with AIDS in the mid-1980s, would have turned 54 on June 7th. To celebrate Richmond's life, he will be honored near his hometown of Ashland in Mansfield, Ohio on June 20th. The inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 will be presented at Mansfield Motorsports Park. Richmond was a winner in ARCA competition in the ARCA 200 at Daytona in his first series start in February of 1981.
Richmond burst onto the national motorsports scene in 1980 with his spectacular Rookie of the Year title and ninth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Richmond's exuberant "ride-along" with the race winner Johnny Rutherford further cast the net of both drivers popularity. Near the conclusion of his victory lap, Rutherford stopped to pick up Richmond from his stalled car to save the rookie the long walk back to the garage. The popular winner and the popular rookie brought wild cheers from the fans.
By mid-1980, however, Richmond's on track performances were unfortunately spectacular in some of his accidents.
Richmond wrecked his car at Milwaukee, the third race of the 1980 IndyCar season, and had no car to enter for the fourth race of the season at Pocono. Still, he showed up at the 2.5-mile triangular track, in case his services were needed. It ended up Richmond was pressed into service, but he was holding a microphone, not a steering wheel.
"CART's assistant starter, Jim Yates, said he had somebody he wanted me to meet," said Joe Mattioli, III, who was General Manager at his parents' Pocono track in 1980. It was Tim Richmond. He didn't have a car for our race. I thought a minute, and told him I'd see if MRN Radio - who broadcast our IndyCar races and NASCAR races - needed a color commentator. That's what Tim ended up doing, and he did it well. He knew the series so he was comfortable in talking about it, and he added some excitement to the broadcast.
"Afterward, we talked about our upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup race, and how it would be neat for Tim to come back and race stock cars," Mattioli said.
"I didn't think Tim would do it," Yates said. "But I talked to his dad, Al, and he said he didn't know if Tim would do it either, but he really hoped he would. Al talked to Timmy about it, and then Timmy called me. The first thing he said was 'When do you want me there?' So I called Joey to see if he could put something together, Yates concluded.
It didn't take Mattioli long to help broker a deal with car owner D.K. Ulrich, Richmond's IndyCar sponsor, Bob Tezak of the UNO card game, and enlist sponsorship help from Caesar's Pocono Resorts to get Richmond entered into the July 27th Coca-Cola 500 at Pocono.
Like his first Indianapolis 500 performance only two months earlier, Richmond was fast on the track. He qualified 23rd and finished 12th and suddenly Richmond was on a fast track in NASCAR. He ran four more races for Ulrich that year and posted two more 12th place finishes at Martinsville and Charlotte (now Lowe's Motor Speedway).
Reserved Seat Tickets for the Inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200, purchased in advance, are priced at only $20 per person and will include ARCA Garage Area Access and free weekend camping for self-contained RVs. Tickets will be available beginning April 11th online at www.mansfieldmotorsportsonline.com or by calling 419-525-RACE (419-525-7223). For more information about the ARCA RE/MAX Series, visit www.arcaracing.com.