Here’s NASCAR racing we just don’t see anymore: Tim Richmond’s spectacular come-from-behind victory at Pocono in 1986. Grab your popcorn and watch this amazing four-minute recap.
Tim Richmond, NASCAR’s beloved bad boy of the 1980s, landed a top-notch ride at Hendrick Motorsports for 1986, but it took nearly half the season for the free-spirited driver and his cagey old crew chief, Harry Hyde, to gel as a team. Once they did, they were nearly unstoppable. Seven of the 13 wins in Richmond’s bright, brief career—tragically cut short by AIDS—came in this one season, including his hard-to-believe victory in the Summer 500 at Pocono on July 20.
Always spectacular at Pocono with his loose, tail-out style, on lap 122 Richmond looped his Chevrolet trying to go three-wide through Turn 2, the treacherous tunnel turn, blowing out three tires and destroying the left-side sheet metal. Somehow a dozen cars managed to miss Richmond as he pinwheeled across the track, but the Monte Carlo fastback was still badly damaged. Richmond was only able to get the wreck back to the pits by driving in reverse, dragging the frame through the infield grass.
On pit road, Hyde and crew hammered the beat-up Chevy halfway straight again, and Richmond went back to work on the Pocono tri-oval. Somehow, soon he was picking off one, two, three cars per lap. With five laps remaining, he’d fought his way up to fifth, and on the final lap, he edged past Ricky Rudd and Hendrick teammate Geoff Bodine to win by a scant .05 seconds, the closest finish in Pocono history. Think this story sounds a bit corny and implausible, like a scene from Days of Thunder? See for yourself, courtesy of NASCAR’s historic Throwback series. Video below.