Dick Trickle, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday, had reportedly been in substantial pain before taking his life at Forest Lawn Cemetery in North Carolina.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Friday that Trickle had been experiencing chest pain, especially under his left breast.
According to Trickle's brother, Chuck, who spoke to Dick a week ago, “He was very down. He more or less said he didn't know how much longer he could take the pain.”
Chuck Trickle said his brother had visited doctors twice a day, but the source of the pain went undiscovered.
While Trickle was apparently dealing with physical pain, two tragedies could have potentially weighed on him as well.
Trickle's granddaughter, Nicole Ann Bowman, was killed in a car accident in 2001, according to the Charlotte Observer, and was buried in the same cemetery where Trickle killed himself. Citing a friend of Trickle's, the paper reported, “He never, ever got over that.”
Bowman's death wasn't the first tragedy that Trickle experienced. In 1997, Trickle's nephew, Chris, was shot while driving a car in Las Vegas and later died. The case was never solved.
Chris was a promising driver in his own right, and many, including Kyle Busch, think he could've made a career out of racing.
He "probably would've made it to Cup,” Busch told USA Today earlier this year.
And yet, even with such a tragic past, Trickle managed to remain one of the most vibrant and charismatic racers in history.
In just one day since his death, stories have poured out about the exploits of the colorful driver.
His chain-smoking habits were well known, and he was so resolute about his habit that he had a lighter installed in his car so he could smoke during races.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote, “Dick Trickle would hold a cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other. Or a beer. Depended on the time of day.”
In describing Trickle, former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine could only conjure one word: “Fun. Just plain fun. … People everywhere knew his name. That's why they used his likeness in that movie Days of Thunder. He was such a character.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace said in a statement, “I'm in 100 percent shock. Dick Trickle was my mentor. When I was short-track racing, I would call him every Monday morning, and he would always help me with race setups and stuff.”
Trickle, 71 and a Wisconsin native, had immense success on the short tracks, especially in the Midwest, winning more than 1,000 races throughout his career. He eventually made the leap to NASCAR in 1989, becoming the sport's oldest rookie of the year at age 48.
For more, follow Mike Singer on Twitter @RealMikeSinger.