RIP, Dick Trickle

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 16 2013 5:06 PM

Driver With NASCAR's Greatest Name Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

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Fans watch during action in the Bud Shootout at the NASCAR Nextel Cup Daytona 500 on February 12, 2005 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida

Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Sad news from the auto racing world, where former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle was found dead today of an apparent suicide. The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette with the details:

Retired NASCAR driver Richard “Dick” Trickle, 71, died Thursday from an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound.
The incident occurred at 12:02 p.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Highway 150 East in Boger City. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call apparently from the victim that “there would be a dead body and it would be his.“ Communications Center workers tried to place a return call to the number but did not get an answer.
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Trickle never won on NASCAR's premier circut—now called the Sprint Cup Series—but he nonetheless became a favorite among casual racing fans in no small part because his name was a running gag on SportsCenter during its glory days with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. The race results when read by the then-ESPN anchors would sound something like this: "Dale Jarrett captured the checkered flag. Dick Trickle finished 43rd." Trickle grew to love the joke—duing his racing days, he attributed much of his popularity and job security to the bit—which only enhanced his cult status among sports fans.

Things like this didn't exactly hurt him with the die-hard fans in the crowd (or the sponsors in the booth), either:

[h/t Y! Sports for the video]

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.