The Tale of "Hollywood" Tim Richmond
The story of Tim Richmond is the story of a very talented racer with a tragically short life. Born in Ohio in 1955, Tim Richmond grew up the son of a wealthy manufacturer, who started driving with a go-kart when he was very young.
In 1976, at age 21, Richmond took a family friend’s sprint car out for a few laps just for fun, and turned in times faster than those of the car’s professional driver. His family encouraged his apparent talent, and Richmond became a sprint-car pro — he was named Rookie of the Year in 1978.
Just two years later — a mere four years after taking a sprint car for a spin — Richmond finished ninth at the 1980 Indianapolis 500, again earning Rookie of the Year honors for his impressive showing at his first Indy race. Just two months later, Richmond switched racing styles yet again, this time from open-wheel racing to the stock cars of NASCAR.
He had mixed success in his first years in NASCAR, but started to shine in the 1986 season when he teamed up with race veteran Harry Hyde. He won seven races in the latter part of the season, finished third in the standings, and was named Co-Driver of the Year.
Tim Richmond’s life was glamorous; he was a larger-than-life character who exuded glamor and showmanship, drawing comparisons to James Dean. His flashy style earned him the nickname “Hollywood,” and he lived up to it: He had a small part in the 1983 film “Stroker Ace.”
Richmond was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and retired from racing in the latter half of the 1987 season, having earned 13 wins in eight NASCAR seasons. He died of complications from the disease on August 13, 1989 at the age of 34, a promising career cut tragically short.
“Hollywood” Tim Richmond’s legacy lived on, though — Tom Cruise’s character in the 1990 racing film “Days of Thunder” was loosely based on Richmond and his interactions with team members like Harry Hyde and Rick Hendrick.
World of Speed is proud to feature an exhibit on Tim Richmond, opening Saturday, June 30! Stop by the museum to check out the story of this larger-than-life racer.