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Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle dies of apparent suicide

May 16, 2013, 4:35 PM EDT

Dick Trickle, 71, died Thursday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office, in a report by Charlotte affiliate WBTV.

The County reported this happened at 12:02 p.m. local time, where Trickle was found dead next to his pick-up truck.

MORE: Trickle was the ‘the roughest, toughest, meanest, craziest and grouchiest son of a gun who ever climbed into a race car’

Trickle was a veteran short track legend in Wisconsin, and 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year. He occasionally lit up cigarettes during caution flags, as shown in the video below.

But more than that, Trickle doubled as a fierce competitor and rival to all who raced against him, and a “throwback” who was never afraid to race by day, and have a beer by night. His NASCAR career – which paled in comparison to the statistics achieved on short-tracks throughout the country, where he won more than 1,200 career races – included 36 top-10 finishes in the Cup level over 24 years, and two wins in 11 years of Nationwide (then Busch Grand National) competition.

Tweets poured in throughout the afternoon and spanned the generation gap. Mark Martin, who at 54 had parts of nearly three decades racing against Trickle, said of Trickle, “He kicked butt everywhere he went.”

Landon Cassill, who’s only 23, had this to say about the driver born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.: “Trickle was a legend-When i was 14 we beat doors for 50 laps @ Madison-He gave me the boot w/ 5 to go, offered me a cigarette after the race.”

Proof then, that some things never changed.

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