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.
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 since the early 1990s.
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.