This is the 5th in a series of articles leading up to the June 20th "Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200" at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park
TIM RICHMOND STILL RECEIVES ACCOLADES TWO DECADES LATER
MANSFIELD, Ohio (May 11th, 2009) - Tim Richmond was a genuine "people person" who enjoyed his fans, friends and family as much as he did climbing into a race car to compete.
Sondra "Sandy" Welsh, is the sole survivor of Richmond's immediate family. The driver passed away from complications caused by the AIDS virus two decades ago this year. His mother, Evelyn died in 2001, and his father, Al, died in 2004.
While Tim's illness and death were shrouded in privacy in the 1980s, the mere mention of AIDS raised controversy. Shortly after he died, the family released the cause to put an end to the secrecy. In the early years of the age of AIDS, not even the President of the United States would discuss the emerging worldwide health crisis. Richmond died an unjustly maligned man, due mostly to a societal lack of understanding about the disease.
Richmond was a good son and brother, his sister says. She whole-heartedly endorses the naming of the inaugural Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA RE/MAX 200 for her brother. The race will be held at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park on August 20. Welsh plans to join a growing number of Richmond's contemporaries who are said to be making plans to attend the event.
Over the years since the driver's passing, Richmond began receiving respect and honor for his 13-win NASCAR career, and his close association with his fans. Richmond was enshrined in the Ashland County (Ohio) Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, selected as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers during the sanctioning body's 50th Anniversary celebration in 1998, and inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., in 2002. He is certain to one day be enshrined in the still-under-construction NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
"Tim never forgot where he came from," Welsh says, "and these honors are great because he still has a lot of fans. Tim was always ahead of his time," Welsh says. "He was the first to bring a motor-home to stay in at the track. Now all the tracks have special areas for drivers and owner's coaches. He was the first in NASCAR to wear a flame retardant head sock underneath his helmet. He brought that over from his IndyCar racing. Mom thought Tim was crazy for buying some real estate, but he turned out to be a good at that, too."
Fifteen years older than her brother, Welsh was her brother's favorite baby sitter. "When he was little, he couldn't say my name. When I would leave, he would cry 'Nany, Nany, Nany, don't leave!' I still have his Raggedy Andy, and it's tattered. Mom saved everything, and so do I. We loved each other, and we were always there for each other. Tim wasn't a bad boy. He just couldn't sit still. Even as a teen. Al had airplanes for business, and Tim had to learn to fly. He had to be able to fly planes and helicopters. Cars? He wasn't impressed with cars. He did sneak off to Dragway 42 which was near Ashland and drag race. He got racing from our dad. Racing was Al's passion.
Richmond's first NASCAR race car owner D.K. Ulrich remains impressed with Tim's driving talent. "If Tim Richmond, Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison hadn't died, the NASCAR record books would have looked a lot different today," D.K. commented