Gotta love it when the young guns pay tribute to the legends.
And this was certainly a legendary moment in NASCAR history.
Tim Richmond was a superstar in the NASCAR Cup Series in the 1980s. He had made his name in open-wheel racing before making the switch to stock car racing. And he was from Ohio, unlike all of the old-school NASCAR drivers who were southern boys from North Carolina and Georgia.
Richmond had a reputation for being more of a slicked-back Hollywood playboy than a blue-collar everyman like the rest of the drivers in the garage. But despite his image he won his first race in 1982, he won four races during his first few years in NASCAR before landing a ride with Hendrick Motorsports for the 1986 season.
It would prove to be a breakout year for Richmond, who won an incredible 7 races that season and finished third in the points behind Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.
But Richmond got sick and was hospitalized after the 1986 season – publicly announcing that he was suffering from pneumonia – and missed the start of the 1987 season.
He returned in time for the 1987 All-Star Race, at the time known as The Winston, on May 17, 1987.
And before the race, he posed for what is now an infamous group photo with his fellow drivers, a photo that NASCAR would use for posters that would be distributed to bars and restaurants all over the country.
At first glance it looks like a normal photo. But if you take a look at Richmond – specifically the area right below his belt – you’ll see what’s made the poster so infamous in NASCAR in the 30+ years since the photo was taken.
Richmond is standing in the back, the second from the left in a Folgers driving suit. Kneeling in front of him is Neil Bonnett. And right behind Neil Bonnett’s ear is what appears to be…Tim Richmond’s penis.
You are thinking of the Tim Richmond poster I think that was 1987. pic.twitter.com/bxADJ9n4nU
— Bill Johns (@RobertBobSpotee) May 21, 2023
Now, it’s never been confirmed that Richmond really did let it all hang out in the photo. But once people started noticing what looked to be Richmond’s mini-me in the photo, NASCAR tried to collect all of the copies of the poster and reissued one with a different photo, this time without an alleged penis in it.
Richmond would go on to win two more races in 1987, before suddenly resigning from Hendrick Motorsports in the middle of the season.
He attempted to make a comeback in 1988, but NASCAR suspended Richmond for allegedly failing a drug test prior to the Daytona 500. And in 1989, Richmond passed away at the age of 34. His family would reveal shortly after his death that Richmond had passed away from complications of AIDS.
Richmond managed to score 13 Cup Series wins during his relatively short career, and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers of All-Time in 1998.
And this week, as NASCAR returns to North Wilkesboro for the first time in nearly 3 decades for the All-Star Race this weekend, one current driver paid tribute to Richmond in an…interesting way.
The drivers all gathered on the track for a group photo to celebrate the sport’s return to one of its original tracks. And if you look closely at Noah Gragson – just below his belt – you’ll see that he’s holding his finger down there, seemingly commemorating Richmond and the infamous 1987 poster.
Wonder if @NoahGragson was going for Tim Richmond 1987 poster vibes without the uh….you know…indecent exposure stuff haha pic.twitter.com/8dhlFDCgD7
— Jeff Mutter (@jmutt_76) May 19, 2023
Noah’s been one of the more colorful characters in NASCAR since entering the sport, so it’s no surprise that he would be the one to pay tribute to Richmond – and his penis.
Probably smart that he didn’t decide to go all-in on his tribute, but still, an absolutely hilarious move from Gragson to honor one of the most memorable characters the sport of NASCAR has ever seen.