OK. Back in the '90s, when we were working on the original NXE "TV series", Truss and I followed stock car racing. NASCAR was just starting to become really mainstream at the time, thanks in part to frequent mentions on ESPN's SportsCenter, but since we were both from Maine - which, despite its position in the upper righthand corner of the continental US, is in many odd ways culturally a Southern state - we were familiar with it already.
One of the things we liked to do was root for the underdogs, the utility players, the guys who aren't going to be MVP, but are always there. And in the '90s at the top level of NASCAR (they called it the Winston Cup Series at the time), there was no underer underdog than a man called Dick Trickle.
Yes, yes, funny name, ha ha. Got it out of your system now? Because here's the thing: Dick Trickle was a legend before he got his ride in the Winston Cup Series. He was nearly fifty by the time he arrived at that level - an age by which most racing drivers have long, long since retired - and he had pretty well owned the regional short-track racing scene in the Midwest for most of the '70s and '80s. Driving in Winston Cup races sort of was his retirement. Sure, he didn't win. Realistically, at his age and with the support of a minor team in an age when NASCAR was starting to become a really-big-money operation, he was never going to. But he kept showin' up, because it was his job and he liked to go to work.
Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick got into the habit of mentioning him on SportsCenter whenever they recapped a Winston Cup race ("... and Dick Trickle finished 38th"), so he developed a national following of sorts. Some of its members were probably being all hipsterly and ironic about it, but most, I prefer to believe, were like Truss and me - backing an always-up-for-it underdog because they are awesome. Hell, I joined his official fan club. He's even mentioned in one of the NXE Bonus Theater! segments in the third "season".
Truss and I have largely stopped following stock car racing nowadays; I dropped away from it years ago, partly because it'd become too stupidly regimented ("the Car of Tomorrow", guys? Really?), partly out of a perverse reaction to the huge marketing efforts of the late '90s, and partly because I just naturally run hot and cold on a lot of stuff. I suspect Truss's reasons may be similar, but only he can really answer that. Both of us, though, would occasionally think, I wonder whatever happened to Dick Trickle.
So you can imagine our dismay when we discovered that, this past Thursday, he shot himself.
There's... no upside to this one, obviously. I just thought it needed marking. It's not exactly the passing of Ray Harryhausen, but all the same, the world is a tad bit less excellent now.
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.