The Last Comeback: Tim Richmond’s 1988 Daytona Journey

The Last Comeback: Tim Richmond’s 1988 Daytona Journey

Richmond, across the finish line. The checkered flag to win the Firecracker 400. Tim Richmond, about to win the Budweiser at the Glen. He raises his hand. Tim Richmond has won the Budweiser at
the Glen. There’s a guy, Harry Hyde, that is absolutely proud. Harry, you know at
the beginning of the year you said that Tim Richmond was really gonna be the cat
to be dealt with, now how do you feel? I think he’s great, I think
he’s great. I couldn’t say enough for him. How many single girls up there tonight came to see Tim Richmond? Wow you get that everywhere you go? Not all the time. I’m just so
proud of Harry and Tim this year. I don’t know how many they going to win. He said he’d win eight you think you gonna win eight? I promised you I’d win six so I
got two more to go Well Tim Richmond is just out of the car,
getting the cheers from the crowd, Win number seven, they’ve got a sign for him here. Now they tell me you’re gonna change your lifestyle, what are you gonna
do now that the season is over? Well right now we’re, uh, we’re moving out to Hollywood or somewhere out here in LA and take some acting classes and do a
little public relations work and kind of rest up out in LA now. –See it next
year. —I’ll be here There’s a lot of mystery about all this, Tim, from cancer – to flu – aids – to booze. What is the start of this, what
got you to this state where you got so sick? I just wouldn’t let myself think
that I was sick. Last December, the question was would
Richmond live into the next hour, The question at this hour
is will he win his third in a row. Two weeks ago at Pocono Pennsylvania, he came home first. Then went to Riverside California and did it again. The
mischievous flamboyant one. A driver larger-than-life himself is ready to try to make it three. —Tim Richmond’s brush with death last year doesn’t seem to
have taken a whole lot out of him. Tim you’ve still got that fire don’t you?
—Yeah I’m ready. I, I didn’t seem like I’ve you know lost anything there over the
time that I was sick. —Crowd in up and cheering and Tim Richmond, stretching for three in
a row, lengthens that car out a little and pushes that car out in first place. High side, Earnhardt working on him. Incredible racing As we have completed 149 laps… a car
smoking in turn number one high against the wall Its Tim Richmond in car number
25. He steered it up there, Bob, because the smoke started to come out
the frontstretch. He held it under control, he steered it up there to get
out of the way. Although he came back in 87 and recorded two straight victories his
health was still not good. He resigned from the Rick Hendrick team amidst
rumors of drug abuse. Some say those rumors led to NASCAR’s decision to
implement a drug testing program for 1988. We’re not talking around. NASCAR
has said they’re gonna have drug testing next year, you’re gonna go down and take
the drug test and let that be the answer on that issue. —Exactly. One driver who is
not here today but whose name has been in the headlines for the past several
days is Tim Richmond President Bill France jr. announced last
weekend, with no details, that NASCAR will implement a drug testing program next
year. I personally I cannot say that I have ever seen anybody use drugs in our sport.
You know you there are all kind of rumors and then you hear all kind of
thing, but personally I have never seen it. And there may have been and if there,
if there have been, we need to put a stop to it. The topic of conversation in this segment gentlemen is drug testing. Darrell, is
there a drug problem in NASCAR so far as you know? As far as I know, no. I’m not
aware of a problem. I’m like everybody else, I’m like Steve, I’m like you guys. I
hear a lot of things. You know, and and we all have a phrase you know that we use a
lot of times “that guy must be on drugs” when somebody does something really crazy or weird. I think we made such, really made light-hearted out of the drug situation
in our sport to the point to where, at least as far as I’m concerned, I don’t I
don’t think it’s an epidemic and I don’t think it’s a big problem and I’ll tell
you right up front I was shocked in New York when Billy France got up and said they were gonna do the drug testing deal because for two years some of us
have asked why don’t we do it, not why… let’s do it, just why don’t we? Why are
you so adamant against doing it? And they’ve never wanted to all of a sudden
BAM they didn’t ask anybody, we’re gonna do drug testing. Has there ever been a
time when the drivers felt that another competitor
had a problem and shouldn’t be allowed to compete in that event? Yes there have,
this past year a couple of times. I know of some occasions where there were some
drivers and some officials that were very alarmed. But again, we don’t know
what we were we don’t know if we were alarmed about drugs or was it something
else? It’s hard to say, we didn’t have, you know, we weren’t testing so we didn’t
know. And it’s a deal where you just kind of look at a guy say “I think he’s taking
drugs” that’s that’s a tough one to call, you know. In this segment we’re going to talk with
one of the most colorful and controversial figures in the recent
history of motorsports. Flamboyance is his trademark but he has backed it up
with great driving He was Rookie of the Year in the 1981
Indy 500 then set his sights on stock car racing. In 1986 he won more stock car
races than any other driver but a month later a mystery began at the peak of his
success Tim Richmond became ill. Press
announcement said it was pneumonia, the rumor mill said otherwise. Tim said I’ll
be back. And indeed, he came back he made a triumphant return to the sport last
May at The Winston. His fans were ecstatic, his driving absolutely flawless.
He finished third in the race and he completed that comeback by winning the
next two events that he entered. Then he disappeared from the racing scene again,
abruptly dropped by his team and apparently out of the stock car game. And
I think that has to be the opening question that we ask Tim Richmond
today. Are you out of the stock car game? Well, I don’t think I don’t believe I’m
out of the stock car game. And let me clarify one thing, I resigned from
Hendrick Motorsports I didn’t, as some have written about, I have… I was not
fired or released I resigned myself. —Why? The main thing, why I resigned was I didn’t want
to have to, I don’t want to say let ’em down again, but they were counting on me
at the beginning of that season. Because of that pneumonia I had, I had to back
off. They had to change horses in the middle of stream, is when they put
Benny in the car. And then when I started getting pneumonia the second
time I said, you know, I don’t, I can’t have people counting on me until I know
for sure that I’m gonna, you know, continue on and not have to back out and
that was that was the main reason in my book why I resigned from Hendrick
Motorsports. Tim, do you have a drug problem? I’m sorry but that question has been asked, more than once here, more than once
by everybody and I am not answering that question. I am going to let the drug test
in Daytona answer it and NASCAR can answer for y’all. And if they don’t answer it
the right way, then I’ll have my little bottle and there will be another answer
there. Because I know, I know whether it’s dirty or whether it’s clean
and it is clean. Pneumonia, you’ve said it all along The rumor mill, as we said, has
claimed drugs, AIDS, every imaginable kind of thing that took Tim Richmond out of
the racing mainstream. Can you respond to the drug question was it drugs? Well you
know I have quit being on the defensive on this subject. What I’m gonna do is is
come Daytona time whether I’m driving a race car or not I’m gonna go down there
I’m gonna put my money up to try to secure a Winston Cup competitors license.
I’m going to I’m gonna have some people there with me to take the tes… not take
the test but, how can I say it? If when I put something in one bottle I’m gonna
put it in another one I’m gonna take their physical and then we will, you know,
we’ll know the results. If I have a valid competitors license from NASCAR, we’ll
know if the if the test was dirty or clean. We’re not we’re not talking around, NASCAR has said they’re gonna have drug testing next year you’re gonna go
down and take the drug test and let that be the answer on that issue. Exactly But what that also leads us to is the next obvious question: you’re gonna try to get
back into Winston Cup racing, you have an opportunity to do that you’re qualified
for the Busch clash because you won a pole last year but you don’t have a ride. Well I don’t have a ride right now. I’ve approached by a couple car owners and I
can understand why there might be a little hesitation there. A lot of
rumors have been around and I think the drug test down there will stop a lot of
those rumors and will make it easier for for maybe a car owner to make the
decision to put me in his… in his race car and hopefully go win the Busch
Clash and maybe the Daytona 500. You told me before we started that you have a
racing dream and it has nothing to do with stock cars and nothing to do with
Indy cars No, my dream from day one when I started thinking about race cars,
was to strap 3,000 horsepower on my butt, and and that means a funny
car and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do is go drag racing. —He’s gonna be a
drag racer. Is your health such that you can run a full Winston Cup season? The
bottom line is I don’t… I won’t ever come back unless the
schedule changes and run a full blown Winston Cup tour for the Winston Cup
championship. The Winston Cup championship is very important, but I don’t think it’s as
important as, you know, enjoying myself and the time, the time it takes to do
that, I don’t, I’m not gonna do that. Various accusations such as drug abuse
and AIDS have been leveled against Tim Richmond in the past year, but he
continues to battle back from critics Next Tuesday, Richmond will meet with
NASCAR’s Bill France jr. to discuss Tim’s possible return to Winston Cup
racing. Step 1 in Tim’s comeback was a meeting with NASCAR officials and after
that meeting, I asked him about step 2 Well I’d uh, went very well as far as I’m
concerned and NASCAR says they they have no problems with me, they welcomed me
back. They’d like to see me come back. I want to go back. I have no problems with
them and so now we’ve got that cleared up, now I need to go get a ride so I can
go back. You know everybody talked about Tim having some problems with drugs Tim
was sick with the flu or the pneumonia or what and it got him down. And they
tried to prove drugs on him and you know he’s taking drug tests and he’s you know,
he’s been in the hospital and surely if he had been on drugs it would have came
out when he went in the hospital. Because everybody in the hospital don’t keep secrets. So I don’t feel like Tim was using drugs. I think Tim had some other problems and
hopefully Tim can get his problems worked out and make a comeback From the Daytona International Speedway
CBS Sports is pleased to bring you live, the 1988 Busch Clash Hello everyone. I’m Chris Economaki
In auto racing, the driver who was fastest in the qualifying rounds wins
the number one starting place: the coveted pole position. And today’s rich,
20 lap race is for NASCAR’s fastest men of 1987. There’s one man who belongs
in this lineup that isn’t: Tim Richmond. And for more on that story, let’s go topside
and out of my CBS broadcast colleague Ken Squier. —Chris, one year ago Tim
Richmond qualified for this race and missed it, it was serious pneumonia. This
year he is missing the race again after qualifying, it’s just as serious. NASCAR
make this release yesterday: “Tim Richmond has been suspended indefinitely
following a urinalysis test administered under the guidelines of NASCAR substance
abuse policy.” Richmond tested true positive for a prohibited substance
covered under the NASCAR substance program. He was tested and submitted to
the test on Thursday. The test was given by Dr. Forrest S. Tennant on Friday and
the release was made yesterday. Just a few hours ago, I talked to Tim Richmond
here in Daytona and this was his reaction. It came back, he said it was
positive for two substances and they had no choice but to suspend me. I mean, I
would bet you any amount of money that they would give anything had they not
taken this test because now they can’t let me on the track until, you know, if I
was to go out on the track hurt someone or whatever and it be found out that
they were aware of this test prior to going in. Then you know, they would, so I
understand their position here I’ve just maintained that… you’ve made a mistake,
I’ve made mistakes in my life, meaning that there’s been a mistake made on this
drug test. Somehow or another I am not guilty of it.
I asked the question of one of the officials: had I not requested the test had I not asked for it Would you have requested one of me anyway? And his reply was: “you’ll never
know will you.” This is something that we were, that could happen, you know, we knew
that there was a possibility that someday somebody might get caught
in one of these situations. It has happened I think we’ll just have to wait
and see the outcome of Tim’s situation I got to say personally that Tim being
here and trying to run the race and the things that went on around him being
down here, you know, the drug test… it’s a good time to have it in effect Now there has been some vicious rumors started on me since my illness with pneumonia. I was
trying to put to rest these rumors and to put the competitors minds at ease
there was no basis to these rumors. Have you used drugs or prohibited substances
in 1988? -No I have not —-At any time while you were Winston Cup driver? —-No I have
not. Without Tim Richmond, a dozen big stars lined up for the first big race of
stock car speed weeks Monday, NASCAR announced the second test
was clean and said Richmond’s license was being reinstated. Then on Tuesday, officials revealed that until he passes a physical he can’t race
and he can’t pass the physical unless he submits medical records from his 1987
stay in a Cleveland hospital where he was reportedly treated for pneumonia.
Tim Richmond ineligible to drive a Winston Cup car in the wake of two
controversial drug tests is discussing his next move with his lawyer, that
lawyer is Barry Slotnick, defense attorney for so-called subway vigilante Bernard
Goetz Dave, attorney Barry Slotnick says the
fact that Tim submitted himself for the drug test is the only issue an adds
quote “it’s a matter of principle we will not turn over stale records” close quote.
NASCAR says: “no records, no racing” so the two sides appear to be in an impasse. You know they tested positive supposedly and they released it and now they let him
come back and do it again, you know, I have mixed opinions on that. I
think if he’s gonna test again, then he ought to have to sit out a month or two
months, or something, before he can come back and race. I don’t think they ought
to test on Monday and then test on Tuesday and test on Wednesday and let’s just
keep testing until we get it clear till we get a clear sample I don’t know I
don’t agree with that. I’m sure there can be mistakes on tests but, you know, for
whatever it is, at least, you know, he had one come up negative so that’s good.
—-You wouldn’t feel circumspect about racing against him then? No, we wouldn’t
have felt bad about racing against him Sunday either Big race tomorrow at Daytona but the 500
is not what has been making the headlines this time around at Daytona.
The controversy surrounding Tim Richmond has put the race into the fine print. Tim Richmond called a news conference there at the Daytona Hilton. The purpose was to
clear his name Richmond and his lawyers met the press
and charged NASCAR with mounting a smear campaign to sabotage his comeback. There was a concerted effort to defame Mr. Richmond and deprive the fans of the
right to see him drive in the Daytona 500 NASCAR finally, after Thursday’s
qualifying races in the evening, sat down and issued a release and told you folks
that Tim Richmond did not have a prohibited illegal drug in his system.
But had sudafed and Advil, something that everybody in this room might at one time
be guilty of having in their system. I came here to race. I came here to
attempt to race, to get a license and to try to clear up a lot of this, that is,
rumors that has taken place in last year and the hole seemed to get a lot
bigger. Again my number one goal is to clear my family name and I basically
very simple I do not, did not, and still do not trust
NASCAR The power within is too large for
little Timmy Richmond or whoever out there to deal with up to this point. We
are making a final last-ditch effort There is a possibility at 3:30 this
afternoon you may see Tim in the car doing the final lap to qualify. At that
point it will be up to NASCAR. Yeah I’m gonna make attempts to race this season.
I don’t know if it’ll be NASCAR, NHRA, USAC, CART, I really don’t know. I’ve got a
lot of people now that’s…. they’re still in my corner, they’d like to see me
perform as a racecar driver in some form or another I would like to do that but I
just hope I haven’t been burnt too hard. Well joining us now live here in our
Purolator Victory Lane at Daytona is NASCAR Director of Public Relations, Chip
Williams. Chip, thanks for joining us. —Sure What is the status of Tim Richmond
situation on first, vis-a-vi the Daytona 500? As of right now as of right now
we’re still looking for the medical records and Dr. Hinebaugh needs
some kind of… something to look at to see how the treatment and the recovery of
the pneumonia has come. And at that point, if he’s satisfied then Tim will be
approved a race. Until that happens, it’s not going to happen. Now in the press
conference yesterday, Tim’s lawyer said that NASCAR had agreed that those
medical records were no longer an issue, that they would accept the letter from
Tim’s treating doctor saying that he has not been treated for drug abuse in the
past, that he has fit to go race is that not the case? It’s not. Our question is
not drug abuse. Going back, Wednesday a week ago is when we asked him for the
medical records. Dr. Hinebaugh wanted to know where he stood in his
recovery and how the treatment has gone for the pneumonia, to see if if Tim was
able to run physically able to run 190 miles an hour for 500 miles. On Thursday,
of course, things got a little off track because of because of the urinalysis
test. By Monday he was back in a situation where his license was valid.
We were still sitting there waiting for the medical records and
we’ve been waiting When was the first time that you asked Tim Richmond for his
medical records? First time Dr. Hinebaugh asked was Wednesday a week ago with the
Wednesday prior to the Busch Clash. On January 26th Bill Jr. uh, Bill France
our president and Les Richter vice-president of competition
told him that they thought that Dr. Hinebaugh would probably ask for that
because he wanted to know how the how the pneumonia was. We should point out
here that Dr. Hinebaugh NASCAR’s medical director He is the track physician here Chip, why did it take so long for the announcement of the Advil in the Sudafed
being the drugs in question? We didn’t want to say anything until we knew
exactly what the drug was, exactly what the drug was. We knew there was a
prohibited substance in there, so there was a violation of the substance abuse
policy. However we didn’t know exactly what it was and until we could pinpoint it,
we weren’t going to release it publicly. Briefly, we’ve only got a short time, is
NASCAR trying to keep Tim Richmond out of stock car racing? Not at all. From what I could see Tim Richmond is trying to keep Tim Richmond out of stock car racing. Good afternoon everyone from Daytona
Beach, Florida. Today 42 drivers will go after more than one and a half million
dollars in the Daytona 500. One driver who is not here today but whose name has
been in the headlines for the past several days is Tim Richmond. Why are
they picking on me, poor little old me? I really don’t know why they are. I don’t
know… I don’t know. But they’ve picked hard enough to where I’m gonna, you know,
I’m gonna bite back Gentlemen, start your engines! The green is unfurled, we’re underway. Jockeying for position, Bobby Allison going
low in the Miller High Life car he’s got second spot. There’s a smoker on the
back straightaway, that’s the Roush car that new Ford, number six Mark Martin out
of Arkansas the driver for Jack Roush and the engine is expiring. Hitting the wall, Connie Sailor, number 99. The car slides to the outside wall. We got crash in turn four again a car spinning slithering, slamming into the wall and it looks like
Cale Yarborough Trouble in turn number four! Richard Petty’s car
goes airborne, end over end. There’s two or three other cars into it. Petty has hit
the wall very hard. He gets hit again as the car came to rest at the entrance to
pit road. Back they go and look at this tremendous assault. And here goes Darrell
Waltrip three wide for the lead. One last time for Davey Allison but he has
to tuck back in line just behind his dad who was a twice winner of the Daytona
500. Bobby Allison wins it for the third time in his career. Right behind him was
Davey Allison holding on. To a tight third place battle was Phil Parsons with Terry
Labonte and Neil Bonnett. What a finish as the Alabama gang Bobby and Davey
Allison take positions one and two. It was quite a finish. Now for the latest on
Tim Richmond his attorney Barry Slotnick says they will take a couple of weeks to
evaluate their situation before making another attempt for Tim to get back into
racing. NASCAR says they still need to be satisfied as far as Richmond’s medical
records are concerned from his illness in 1987. We haven’t heard the last of
that story yet. When Tim and his lawyers failed to provide medical records from
that stay in the Cleveland Clinic, NASCAR again denied the license. Richmond
promptly filed suit against the sanctioning body, the matter was settled
out of court earlier this year but the terms were never made public One of the most colorful drivers in all
of auto racing is dead at the age of 34 Ugly rumors of drug abuse and AIDS will
taint his accomplishments until the exact cause of death is revealed Dave Despain and Bob Varsha with Tim Richmond
who started in Indy cars. Actually started in super modifieds, but made a big
impression in Indy cars and then gave up those cars to go stock car racing. How
come well? I’ll tell you, the nickname that I acquired when I first went to
Indianapolis was Captain Quick and then it soon became Captain Crunch. And to be
honest with you, I like the way my feet were pointing (laughing)

36 Replies to “The Last Comeback: Tim Richmond’s 1988 Daytona Journey”

  1. i had a cousin who was dating a crew member of a team and she said when the news came out that he died of aids, a panic wet through the garage as they all use to pass those girls around to each other.

  2. I personally think Tim got screwed. Despite Earnhardt having his back, Out of everybody, Dale was one of the few. Tim already wasn’t liked by upper management & I don’t mean Hendrick Motorsports management. LOL.

  3. Did anybody notice after drug testing was implemented, it was preceded with the downfall of NASCAR. Now the only retards in NASCAR are pretty boys that would hate to break a nail.

  4. If Tim Richmond, Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki didn't die Dale Earnhardt wouldn't have had 7 championships!

  5. He exposed aids to girlfriends terrible who cares about a damn car race he gave aids to a unknowing woman!!!! Tragic

  6. Today people tend to forget how AIDS was not understood by the medical profession or the public in the 80's. No known treatment and very little understanding of it's transmission. It was basically a death sentence at that time. A sad time for many.

  7. 10 times the raw talent that Dale Sr. had.. You can be sure if Tim had lived, Sr. wouldn't have won 7 championships.

  8. Not only nascar but all his competitors let him down..
    I started watching the sport in late 1989 and never once heard his name until.the internet. Broadcasters and drivers ignored his existence after he died… Forgotten.

    IT breaks my heart looking back at how little they cared.

    But.. Richmond also let himself and others down by not just coming out. Stigma.yes, but he should have come out..

    Either way it's just heartbreaking to me…. He deserved so much better

  9. Life lesson? Don't do AIDs, and we all know how to not catch AIDs now. Don't be gay…… Despite what they told us all in the 80s AIDs is and always has been a gay thing.

  10. They were worried tim was gonna take himself out in the race because he was dying. Days of thunder was loosely based on tim and Harry

  11. whether nascar told the Dr to falsify or not, they were in a pickle, so was Richmond as he was just trying to keep his aids quiet, and who can blame him, thats personal and back then, obviously nascar and doctors were not held accountable for spreading rumors. Just so very sad to lose a great driver, if healthy and ran every race, he would have at least a champ or 2. RIP

  12. No wonder Cigarette Packs have a Silver Lining and Aluminum Cans and Kegs are Silver.

  13. This, is dumb. Alcohol and Nicotine (Busch and Winston) against Drugs. What will Humans think of, next.

  14. It's really fucked up for NASCAR to take away someone's final you're racing before they pass away because I guarantee you NASCAR already knew he had AIDS and they were afraid of AIDS back in that time they were scared if someone even sneeze that they would catch it

  15. Closing in on the 30th anniversary of your death on August 13th 1989 I can only hope you found peace with yourself finally r i p Tim Richmond forever

  16. 16:55 – the most punchable face in nascar: 1980’s Dave Dispain.

    oh wait nvm. chip william and his mullet, and that line “as far as I can tell, Tim is trying to keep Tim out of nascar.” I’d strangle him if I could.


  18. The bottom line is clearly that NASCAR somehow got wind of the rumors or speculation that Tim had AIDS and wanted him out. That's why they did what the did making such a huge deal about his medical records. No other reason why they would feel so inclined to see them! It's sad for Tim but how NASCAR treated him was the real shame!

  19. The part of them talking about Richmond possibly being on drugs when in reality he had AIDS was very sad, but given the climate in that time had he revealed it he would've been treated even worse.

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