BOGER CITY, N.C. -- The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says retired racecar driver Richard "Dick" Trickle died on Thursday.
Authorities say dispatch received a call around noon on Thursday, apparently from Trickle himself, who said, "There would be a dead body and it would be his." The Lincoln County Communication Center tried to place a return call to the number, but there wasn't an answer.
(Click here to view photos of Trickle through the years)
First responders arrived at the scene, the Forest Lawn Cemetery on Highway 150 East in Boger City, to find Trickle's body lying near his pickup truck.
The Sheriff's Office says Trickle died from an "apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound". He was 71.
Trickle has been a Lincoln County resident, making his home in Iron Station, since the early 1990s.
Trickle's family released a statement to NBC Charlotte on Friday afternoon that stated he had been suffering for some time with severe chronic pain, of which the source of the pain was never identified through numerous doctor visits.
The statement continued:
His family as well as all those who knew him, find his death very hard to accept, and though we will hurt from losing him for some time, he’s no longer suffering and we take comfort knowing he’s with his very special angel.
He is survived by his wife Darlene (McMahon)Trickle, three children Victoria Bowman (John), Tod Trickle, and Chad Trickle (Shannon), and 3 grandchildren, Lucas Bowman, Courtney Trickle and Carlee Trickle. He lost his oldest grandchild Nicole Bowman in a tragic car accident nearly 12 years ago. He was the son of the late Leo and Lauretta Trickle and is survived by his brothers Duaine Trickle, Charles Trickle and sisters Delores Iwanski, and Susan Trickle.
Dick’s passion in life was his racing. He touched many lives throughout his career, provided memories for many that will last a lifetime. Many thought when he retired he would continue as a car owner, but he was driver at heart, he wanted to be behind the wheel and be in control of his destiny. We believe he felt himself no longer able to be behind that wheel of life or be the man he only knew how to be because of the pain and suffering.
His passion was racing but his love was his family. This is a very difficult time for the family, they hope everyone will understand and respect their wishes to have private services for his funeral. They appreciate all the calls, messages, and letters of support, but at this time need to be together as a family.
There have been requests for where to send flowers, in lieu of flowers the family has asked that a donation be made in Memory of Dick to: Victory Junction, 4500 Adams Way, Randleman, NC 27317. They thank you for all your love, thoughts, and prayers.
He made his NASCAR full-schedule debut driving the #84 Miller High Life Buick for Stavola Brothers Racing in 1989.
Trickle was named Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's Winston Cup in 1989, now known as The Sprint Cup, when he was 48-years-old, but never won a Cup race. He did, however, win two Busch Series races.
Part of Trickle's popularity stemmed from ESPN's Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann making a point to mention Trickle's position, regardless of where he finished, to make light of his unusual name.
Trickle was also widely-known for having drilled a hole in his safety helmet and installing cigarette lighters in his racecars to allow for smoking while racing.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released the following statement on Trickle's passing:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dick Trickle on his passing today. Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite. Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed.
Many have already posted condolences on Trickle's Facebook fan page.
Charlotte Motor Speedway says a moment of silence will be held in Trickle's honor in conjunction with the invocation before the start of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday night.