Something worth an hour’s read


Wisconsin Aviator Tracy Buttles has a link to this story on his web page.  I took 40 minutes to read it. Thought for the weekend: watch one hour’s less tv  and read this story instead, it may do something for you that the junk on tv never will.


The story is about the life of Nascar driver Dick Trickle. Not interested in typical Nascar stories? Neither am I, and Dick Trickle was the furthest thing from a ‘typical’ driver the sport may have ever seen. Not interested in smooth talking good old boys with TV tuned personalities? Trickle was from Wisconsin, a middle aged chain smoker who liked bowling alleys and Pabst Blue Ribbon, married to the same supportive woman his whole life.   The story is labeled a “Elegy” which is a long lament for a life, with a somber tone. It is a fitting title. The story isn’t ‘nice’, and it isn’t uplifting in the surface sense. But I uphold that Trickle had legions of fans for one reason: He was the absolute real thing. In a time when people who play ‘sports’ are also required to be ‘celebrities,’ Trickle was one thing they could never be: a pure sportsman.


Here is the connection to homebuilding, Read this slowly: Dick Trickle was Rookie of the year in Nascar at age forty-eight.  Maybe you have an airplane project out in the hangar, and maybe it has been 10 or 20 years since you soloed a plane, or maybe you never have. Maybe your not a spring chicken anymore. Maybe you have ‘friends’ who say your too old to get started, you should have done it earlier, etc.  Do you think when Trickle got called up from the short tracks to Nascar at 48 he didn’t hear bullshit like that? Go and read this story and take that lesson to heart. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what your destiny is.


During the 5 years I spent at Embry-Riddle, I lived in a run down 1907 mansion at 1235 International Speedway Blvd. It was as close as you could live to the track, about 2,000′ off turn three. (the track is 1800 I.S.Blvd.) My brother, who is ten years older, taught me about what was good in the classic era of Nascar. By the time we walked to the ’93 Daytona 500 from my house, that era was fading, and today it is all gone. But for one brief period, one man, Trickle brought back the real era before everything was made ‘nice’ and polished beyond recognition by marketing people. Read the story, and hold in your mind for a few minutes, an era when character mattered more than marketing.


In some ways, I think there are too many people who are trying to ‘polish’ homebuilding and make it ‘nice.’ There is a vital difference here, important to note: for Trickle, the arena was the track, and when the marketing people got a hold of Nascar, his arena was in the hands of others. Flying will always be different, because your arena is the sky, and no marketing person can get a trademark and TV rights to the sky. -ww


Photos | Dick Trickle through the years

Above, Dick Trickle in the car. He won more than 1200 short track races before moving up to Nascar. He was the real thing, 100% American sportsman. Fan’s had to respect the drivers with more entries in the record books, but rank and file fans identified with a salt of the earth man like Dick Trickle.


Click on the color link below to read the story:


2 Replies to “Something worth an hour’s read”

  1. Zenith 650 Builder Paul Normandin
    William, I am not a NASCAR fan nor had I ever heard of Dick Trickle prior to your posting this blog and the link to his Elegy. Today at lunch I took the time to read his story and I am glad that I did. I am not going to run out and start watching auto racing but, from what I gathered of Dick’s personality as represented by his family, friends and history, he was the kind of guy I would have enjoyed having a beer with.
    Through the entire article I keep wondering why he killed himself. I mean, he seemed to be a loving husband and father and he was obviously great at what he did and enjoyed the hell out of it. When I got to the end I had that “Aha” moment. I broke my back at 19 while in the service and it was never properly diagnosed or treated at the time and didn’t heal properly. From 1980 until the early 2000s I would have days to weeks of debilitating pain. The article said that chronic pain increases the risk of suicide by 31%, I can believe that because I remember times when I thought it was a viable option.
    Thank you for posting the link, I am heading toward 53 this May and I will take the lesson to heart. Your never to old…



  2. Thanks William,
    I’ve just turned 62 and had my left hip replaced two months ago. The right one is scheduled for nov. I should have enough parts on hand to build my first corvair flight engine by the time the second hip heals.
    If the good lords willing, I’ll be in the air right around retirement age. Pain wears you down and after a while you just get tired if it all.
    Luckily mine was found.

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