Sunday 8th June 1986
Tim Richmond won the first of his seven Winston Cup Series races of the year, a total that vaulted him to third place in the Series point race and solidified his reputation as one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers. NASCAR named him and fellow racer, Dale Earnhardt, co-drivers of the year. Richmond fell sick during the winter of 1986-1987. At first diagnosed with pneumonia, Richmond struggled to get himself ready for the 1987 season. His condition continued to worsen and he was soon diagnosed with the AIDS virus. His friends and family were caught off-guard. His team leader and mentor Rick Hendrick explained, “It was like my first time… I didn’t know what it actually meant–what the prognosis was. The more you found out… it just killed you.” AIDS was still a mystery to most at that stage. Richmond missed the 1987 Daytona 500 with double pneumonia. Slowly, rumours leaked about his condition. The Miller 500 at the Pocono Speedway was Richmond’s first race back. Earnhardt approached him before the race and asked, “You ready to get it on?” Richmond won the race. Earnhardt, Kyle Petty, and Bill Elliott drove alongside him to offer congratulations, and Richmond burst into tears. He remained in tears on victory lane. It was his last victory.