Rich Bickle to throw out first pitch

MOORESVILLE, NC (June 20, 2000) - As a 24-year racing veteran, Rich Bickle is used to hearing the call "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines." On Saturday, July 1, however, Bickle will fire up to the "Play Ball" call throwing out the first pitch...

MOORESVILLE, NC (June 20, 2000) - As a 24-year racing veteran, Rich Bickle is used to hearing the call "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines." On Saturday, July 1, however, Bickle will fire up to the "Play Ball" call throwing out the first pitch when the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Chicago Cubs in a Major League Baseball game at Milwaukee County Stadium. "I've been a Brewers fan all my life, so I'm very revved up to do this," said Bickle, who will be in Milwaukee to race in the NASCAR Busch Series Sears DieHard 250 at Wisconsin State Fair Park July 2. "To throw out the first pitch at a game in County Stadium is a real thrill for me. That's especially true considering this is the last year for the stadium before the Brewers open up the new Miller Park next season. There is so much history at County Stadium, from the Braves to the Packers to the Brewers. In some ways, I'm really sad to see it go. That's why it will be so special to throw out the first pitch there." Bickle was also quick to remember a 1986 personal appearance that took an unexpected twist and made him an even bigger fan of the Brewers. "I was in Milwaukee that winter to do an appearance at a motorsports show when I met Robin Yount," said Bickle. "He was always my favorite Brewers player, we're talking a Hall of Famer here. It turns out, Robin had always been into racing and that's why he was at the show. We talked a lot about racing and baseball that day, even had our picture taken together. After that, I've followed the Brewers even closer." An Edgerton, WI native, the 39-year-old Bickle began his stock car racing career at age 15 at Jefferson (WI) Speedway. Throughout the 1980s, Bickle dominated midwestern short-track racing and has won more than 250 feature events in his career. Bickle made his first NASCAR Winston Cup start in 1989 and has since been a fixture on the Winston Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series tours. For the Milwaukee Busch Series event, Bickle will drive the #91 Aqua Velva/Popeyes Chicken Pontiac out of his own Bickle/Smith Motorsports shops. "I've been very fortunate to have a long and successful career in NASCAR racing," said Bickle, now a resident of Mooresville, NC. "Racing in Wisconsin against guys like Dick Trickle, Alan Kulwicki, Joe Shear, Jim Sauter and Ted Musgrave made me a better driver and prepared me for a career in NASCAR. I always love coming back home to race and I'm really looking forward to running at Milwaukee again." Over the past couple of years, Bickle has frequented the Winston Cup ranks and owns 81 career starts in NASCAR's premiere division. Bickle made 24 Cup starts in 1999 and his $34,675 in prize money in this year's Goody's 500 at Martinsville, Bickle's only Winston Cup race to date this season, pushed his career earnings in that division over the $2 million mark. After a slow start to the 2000 Busch Series season, Bickle has posted back-to-back fifth-place finishes at South Boston, VA and Myrtle Beach, SC. The momentum of those runs, along with the wealth of experience Bickle has on the Milwaukee Mile, should make him a contender for the win in the Sears DieHard 250. "We've been running great lately," said Bickle, whose career-best finish at Milwaukee is a third in a 1997 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. "I'd like nothing better than to win at Milwaukee. I've won at every major asphalt track in Wisconsin - Madison, Slinger, Jefferson, Columbus, Lake Geneva, Kaukauna, LaCrosse, Wisconsin Dells and Plover - but I've never won at Milwaukee. To join the list of all the great racers who have won at Milwaukee would be a great achievement for any driver, but it would be a career achievement for a Wisconsin guy like me." Bickle is hoping some of his newfound racing luck will also rub off on the Brewers. "Their season has kind of mirrored ours," said Bickle of the National League team. "They started out slowly but are playing a lot better lately. Manager Davey Lopes was always a winner when he played with the Dodgers and I know it's just a matter of time before he has the Brewers playing their best baseball. Geoff Jenkins and Ron Belliard are having great years, Bob Wickman has a ton of saves and Jamey Wright is starting to come around on the mound. The Brewers, like my Aqua Velva/Popeyes Chicken Pontiac, have a lot of potential to make things interesting the rest of this season." The July 1 Brewers-Cubs clash will get underway Milwaukee County Stadium with Bickle tossing out the first pitch at 7 p.m. Central Time. Bickle will take the green flag in the Sears DieHard 250 at the Milwaukee Mile on July 2 at 2 p.m. Central. The race will be telecast live on CBS and broadcast worldwide by MRN radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Ted Musgrave , Jim Sauter , Alan Kulwicki