Retired NASCAR driver Richard "Dick" Trickle died Thursday, May 16, of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities in North Carolina told the Associated Press. He was 71.
According to the Lincoln County, N.C., sheriff's department, officials received a call -- believed to have been placed by Trickle -- that "there would be a dead body and it would be his." Attempts to return the call went unanswered.
Emergency units were then dispatched to the Forest Lawn Cemetery off Highway 150 in Boger City, where Trickle's body was discovered on the ground near his pickup truck. The sheriff's department told the AP foul play is not suspected.
Trickle first made a name for himself as a short-track driver in his native Wisconsin. Per ESPN, he has been billed as the winningest short-track driver in the history of stock-car racing, with 67 victories in 1972 alone. In 1989, he earned the Rookie of the Year title at NASCAR's Winston Cup.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France expressed his condolences over Trickle's death, offering his "thoughts and prayers to the racer's family and friends. "Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite," France said in a statement. "Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed."