I first came across during the 1978 USAC Super Vee season. Tim showed up at Phoenix for the opener fresh from the sprint cars. He put a whuppin' on everybody. Even got his picture in Road &Track for that one. It was obvious to me then he was going to be special and he proved me right.
In 1980 a little know entity crossed our path here at Indianapolis out of the USAC Ranks. Tim Richmond from Ashland , OH came on the scene and stole the show at the beginning of practice. With his movie star good looks and his down to earth attitude, he took off like a rocket in his Penske PC-7 Cosworth and stayed high on the speed charts all week until an accident on the 1st day of qualifying put him on the sidelines for the weekend. He came back to qualify 19th and during the race ran near the front until running out of fuel on lap 197 finishing 9th Fans were cheering wildly when winner, Johnny Rutherford stopped on his Victory Lap in the 3rd turn and picked up Tim, carrying him on the sidepod of his Pennzoil Chapparral “Yellow Submarine” racecar and dropped him off in the pits before turning into Victory Lane.
My friendship with Tim started when his manager, a friend of mine brought him in to the IMS Photo Shop and introduced him to me, saying he was the next new driver to conquer Indy. Together with Chief Mechanic, John Barnes, now part owner of the national Guard Panther INDYCAR Team, they took Indy by storm.
I remember, after the Victory Banquet in 1980, after Tim had been names Rookie of the Year, the IMS Photo staff in attendance invited him to go out for Ice Cream after the event. He not only came with us but brought Linda Vaughn with him and picked up the tab for all. What a guy.
After a tough 1981 season in Indy Car and nearly missing the 1981 Indianapolis 500, taking over an AJ Foyt car , starting last and finishing 14th, Tim took his talents to NASCAR where he excelled with Rick Hendricks new team and almost won a NASCAR Championship.
Tim returned several times to the Indy 500 but never as a driver. He always stopped by the photo shop for a visit. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 34.
I was one of those IMS photogs who enjoyed that ice cream treat after the banquet. It is one of the many great memories I have from my time at the speedway...and a reminder of a time when drivers were extremely accessible and could often be seen hanging out in Speedway and Indy nite spots with fans and Speedway employees,,,Union Jacks as a great example. Richmond was a fun guy and I was fortunate enough to get to know him pretty well that year in my position as a staff photographer. He had an infectious personality and the true worth of his ability, unfortunately, never got to be seen for a long enough time
The sad part about the mislabled photo is that the Speedway staff gets beaten with sticks for mistakes like that. Tim Richmond was a great driver. Looking forward to seeing the Yellow Submarine on Raceday.
This brings back good memories. I must mention however that the top photo says Rick Mears when it should say Johnny Rutherford.
Tim was a great driver, never backed down from anyone or any challenge. He was a top driver in anything he drove. He had a great future ahead of him. Sadly he was taken from us way to early. RIP Tim.
I met Tim at IMS when I was like 14 years old. I believe the Race when Rutherford gave Tim the ride back to pitlane was the race AJ was wrecked out earlier and on made his "nothing but a bunch of ..... Cab Drivers out there" comment.