Associated Press Report, August 17, 1989

About 200 fans and friends attended a memorial service Thursday for Tim Richmond, the Ashland stock car driver who died earlier this week. Charlotte Motor Speedway arranged the service after Richmond's family held a private service and burial in Ashland. Resting on a lectern at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ballroom during the service was one of Richmond's racing helmets.

"There's a hole burning in me right now that I didn't get to tell him goodbye," sobbed Barry Dodson, Richmond's former crew chief on the NASCAR circuit. "I wanted, we wanted, to tell him we love him. We didn't get to do that. I miss him."

Dodson took home the helmet, a gift from Richmond. Dodson continued, "When I think of Tim, I remember what he did with my children. He always took time with them. When he felt bad, I knew he felt bad. When I felt bad, he knew I felt bad. That's just the way it was between me and him. Tim and I were close—we had some rocky times when I was his crew chief, but afterwards we got real close."

Richmond died of an undisclosed illness Sunday in a West Palm Beach, Florida hospital after six months of seclusion. Mike Jarrett, 30, a mechanic with Hendrick Motorsports, wept as his buddy was eulogized. Bob Hice, sports reporter for WBT in Charlotte, described Richmond as a lonely man, even when he was winning.

"When Tim was lonely—and he was a lot—he'd call our sports desk and want to talk," Hice said. "He was sad, lonely. Maybe lost would be the right word. He didn't quite know what he wanted to do."

Hice was with Richmond when he won the 1987 race at Pocono International Raceway in Pennsylvania. He was recovering from one of his bouts with pneumonia and was so tired that between events he had to go to the transporter to rest. "When Tim won that race, a human cannot explain the elation in victory lane," Hice said. "Tears flowed. He was crying and happy and smiling."

"Who was Tim Richmond?" asked H. A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Like all of us, at times a sinner. Like all of us, at times a saint... at all times, when he slipped behind the wheel, one of the best race drivers who ever lived, a man who would drive into the gray where even angels feared to tread and races are won... a man who certainly tasted the shadows of life, but loved the little children.

"Death is never convenient and knows no time schedule. Tim's mother asked me yesterday if we'd all say the Lord's Prayer together," Wheeler told Richmond's fans.

"He was a man who stirred the deepest emotions in racing but treated his fellow racers with deep respect.

"1986 was Tim's year, when he won seven of 13 races. I guess that was his sweet spot, because we all know that's when his problems began," Wheeler said.

Former crew member Cheech Garde said, "I'd like to remember Tim as a fierce competitor that would never give up. Right now, he's in victory lane forever."

Other NASCAR drivers and racing figures were missing from the hastily arranged memorial service because they were in Brooklyn, Michigan, preparing for qualifying for this weekend's race. However, there were quite a few of the drivers' wives and children in the audience and there were very few dry eyes among those at the service.

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