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Legendary NASCAR driver Dick Trickle suffered chronic and debilitating pain in his chest before his suicide according to Chuck, his brother.
Trickle, 71, who died on Thursday from a self inflicted gunshot wound was so distressed by his mystery ailment that he visited doctors twice a day.
According to his brother the popular racer became depressed by a discomfort under his left breast telling him that he 'didn't know how much longer he could take the pain.'
Dick Trickle (left) is pictured here with his daughter Vicky Trickle Bowman (second right), her husband (far right) and son (second left)
Larger than life: Trickle, who made his debut driving the No.84 Miller High Life Buick for Stavola Brothers Racing in 1989, is seen holding one of his famed cigarettes in a hand
Suicide: Dick Trickle, in Sept. 1989, died on Thursday at age 71 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say
'It's a shock to me,' said Chuck Trickle to The Las Vegas Review Journal. 'It's real hard to think about. He was my brother, my friend and my hero, in that order.'
'He was very down.'
Chuck, who lives in Las Vegas said that to his knowledge his brother was healthy, except for the pain under his chest, but when they last spoke a week ago he suspected that something was wrong when he heard his brother curse.
Chuck Trickle said his brother was so beloved that 'he could’ve run for president and won.'
'He was there for everybody,' Chuck Trickle said. 'He left a very large footprint on this earth.'
Chuck’s son, Chris, was shot in 1997 while driving in Las Vegas. He died the following year, and the case never was solved.
During his racing career, he attracted attention when he drilled a hole in his safety helmet to allow him to smoke a cigarette as he competed.
He also installed cigarette lighters in his cars so he could smoke during races, the local news station noted.
Trickle recalled in an interview with Fox Sports two years ago of a fan who came up to him while signing autographs and asked him about the cigarettes.
'He says, 'how many cigarettes did you smoke during that race?' And I said, 'how many yellows were there?' I said, 'one for every yellow.'
Dick Trickle's son's Chad (left) and Tod (right) Trickle are now mourning the loss of their father
Dick Trickle was famed for smoking while driving at high speeds during NASCAR races - he is pictured here lighting a cigarette
Trickle said he quit smoking two and a half years before that interview but did it 'just for no good reason.'
NASCAR legend Richard 'Dick' Trickle died on Thursday at age 71 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police confirmed.
The body of the retired race car driver was found at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, North Carolina, 30 miles west of Charlotte. His body was discovered near his pickup truck.
It is not known why he chose the cemetery as the location to end his life.
The victim had actually called police before shooting himself and forewarned them 'there would be a dead body and it would be his.'
Death: NASCAR driver Dick Trickle, in 1997, was found at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, North Carolina
Trickle made his debut on the NASCAR circuit in the #84 Miller High Life Buick for Stavola Brothers Racing.
His career spanned 24 years, during which he competed in a total of 2,200 races.
Dubbed the 'White Knight' by his corporate sponsor SuperAmerica, he was said to have nabbed the most wins in short track racing.
He was named the Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's Winston Cup in 1989 at age 48.
Legend: The career of NASCAR driver Dick Trickle, in 2006, spanned 24 years, during which he competed in a total of 2,200 races
Dick Trickle inspired the Tom Cruise vehicle 'Days of Thunder' - the main character in the movie was called Cole Trickle
Hollywood: Tom Cruise's character in Days of Thunder, Cole Trickle, was name in honor of the NASCAR legend '
During races ESPN commentators Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann also enjoyed making light of the alliteration in his name and would always take notice of Trickle's finish, regardless of his placement, according to WCNC-TV.
'No sports figure Dan + I had fun with took it more graciously. In fact, gratefully,' Olbermann tweeted on Thursday.
Former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine expressed his grief over the sudden news of his friend while remembering him in an interview with the Associated Press as a man who was 'fun, just plain fun.'
Popular guy: No matter where Trickle placed during his races, seen in North Carolina at the Coca-Cola 600 in 1997, ESPN commentators Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann would broadcast his name just because of the way it sounded
Retirement: After retiring from the sport Trickle said he hoped to live out the remainder of his days as a grandfather at home in North Carolina
'It's all just sad. We don't understand why he would do this. Hopefully we will all learn why he would do that. There was something that triggered him to take his own life. We are all really saddened by this in the racing community,' Bodine said.
Trickle lived in Iron Station, N.C., for more than 20 years. Bodine said Trickle was full of stories and popular because of it.
'People everywhere knew his name,' Bodine said. 'That’s why they used his likeness in that movie Days of Thunder. He was such a character.'
The main character in that popular niche racing movie, played by Tom Cruise, was named Cole Trickle.
Bodine said that a few years ago he had to back out of a celebrity cruise for patients who were on kidney dialysis. He asked Trickle to fill in.
Resting place: The 71-year-old was found dead near his pickup truck at the Forest Lawn cemetery in Boger City, North Carolina
'He made such an impression on people on that ship that everyone wanted to know when Dick was coming back,' Bodine said. 'They loved him. They tell me he was the last man to leave most of the bars on the ship and I believe it.'
Bodine also recalled inviting Trickle to compete in one of his bobsled events in 2004 at Lake Placid, New York.
'I just want to be who I am and satisfied that I had a great career. I'm happy with it. I think I made a lot of friends'
- Trickle on how he wanted to be remembered
He said Trickle went down the first time and crashed. After being cleared by doctors to continue, Trickle tried again and crashed in the same place.
'They were doing interviews with him on TV and he was like, "I don’t know what happened, I did the exact same thing I did the first time,”’ Bodine said. 'And we’re all looking at him like, hey Dick, maybe that was the problem.'
When Trickle was asked how he hoped to be remembered in his interview two years ago, he answered: 'I just want to be who I am and satisfied that I had a great career. I'm happy with it. I think I made a lot of friends.'
He also said he hoped to live out the remainder of his days as a 'stay-at-home grandpa.'
In a statement, NASCAR said its thoughts and prayers were with Trickle's family and friends.
'Dick was a legend in the short-track community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite,' NASCAR's statement read in part. 'Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed.'
Sheriff's Lieutenant Tim Johnson says foul play is not suspected.
In this July 13, 2005, photo, Kenny Wallace, left, and Dick Trickle discuss track conditions at the Slinger Nationals auto race in Slinger, Wisconsin
Trickle earned his reputation as a successful short track driver before joining the Winston Cup series and earning rookie of the year in 1989 at age 48.
He competed in more than 300 Cup races. Although he never won a Cup race and won just two Busch Series races, Trickle earned cult status. Former ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann would regularly mention where Trickle finished after each NASCAR race.
Reffner said he and Trickle raced in Stratford in 1958. They would fix up cars from the wrecking yard, put in roll bars and race, Reffner said. The teens found they could sometimes make more money winning a race — $40 — than a week’s worth of take home pay at their $1-an-hour rate before taxes.
NASCAR does not keep track of short-track records, but according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Trickle won more than 1,000 short-track races throughout the country during his prime.
He was a seven-time winner in the regional ARTGO Challenge Series in the late 1970s and mid ‘80s. Trickle also captured the ASA AC-Delco Challenge Series in back-to-back years in 1984-85 before turning to Cup racing.
Dick Trickle enters his car at Talladega, Alabama, as he prepares to begin another race in 1997
Trickle leaves behind his wife of 53 years Darlene and three children.
They are the proud parents of three children. 50-year-old Tod Allen Trickle born on March 22, 1963, 41-year-old Chad Trickle born on March 03, 1972 and their eldest and only daughter 52-year-old Victoria Trickle, now Vicky Trickle Bowman, who once worked as her father's personal assistant.
Darlene Carol Trickle, 69, was born Darlene McMahon on January 11, 1944, she got married to her childhood sweetheart Dick Trickle shortly after he graduated from High School in May, 1961.
At age eight, Trickle almost died while playing tag with his cousin in a house under construction.
He fell two floors to the basement and broke his hip and spent three years in a cast from his waist to his feet - walking with a limp for the rest of his life.
And tragically, his nephew, Chris Trickle, who was also a NASCAR driver was murdered in an unsolved drive-by shooting in Las VEgas in 1998.
The young man died from his wounds 409 days after the shooting.