KALWASINSKI: Chicago Chips


It’s difficult to believe that Dick Trickle is gone. The news of his passing last Thursday in North Carolina was a shock. Richard LeRoy Trickle was 71 years old.

Dick Trickle at Grundy County Speedway in 1975. (Stan Kalwasinski collection photo)

Trickle had to be the greatest short track stock car driver of all time — Coast to Coast, North, South, East or West. Anyone who was a fan of Midwest racing during the 1960s, 70s and into the 80s knew his name and reputation. Issues of the old Midwest Racing News or The Checkered Flag Racing News of Wisconsin proclaimed his winning efforts. “The Winningest Short Track Driver in the U.S.A.” boasted a sign on the outskirts of Trickle’s hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., in the early 1980s.

It is believed that he won over 1,200 short-track feature races during his career that began as a 16-year-old teenager behind the wheel of a friend’s old Dodge at the long-forgotten Stratford Speedway in the late 1950s. He became a winner on the paved tracks of the Central Wisconsin Racing Ass’n circuit.

His first out-of-Wisconsin victory was his winning the National Short Track Championships 200 at Illinois’ Rockford Speedway in 1966. Trickle would go on to win the annual Rockford event a total of three times.

More and more wins and championships would come. By 1972, Trickle was an established star of short track racing. Piloting a Ford Mustang, Trickle won 67 feature races in ’72, establishing a record for the most wins by a driver in a single season.

ARTGO Challenge Series (seven) and American Speed Ass’n (two) championships were later captured with the feature wins piling up.

Trickle tried his luck in USAC and NASCAR stock cars with Trickle being named USAC’s rookie of the year in 1968. He ran his first Daytona 500 in 1970, but rarely ventured away from his short-track career. His break into the “big time” of NASCAR racing came in 1989 when he was picked to wheel the Stavola Brothers-owned Miller High Life entry in NASCAR ‘Cup competition, winning rookie of the years honors at the age of 48. Trickle would compete in 303 NASCAR Cup events during his career.

Short Track Superstar. American Motorsports Legend. King of Grass Roots Racing. America’s Winningest Stock Car Driver. All those titles fit Trickle to a tee. Rest in peace Dick Trickle and thanks for all the memories.