2. Tim Richmond
Richmond came from the open-wheel ranks, which made him a subject of derision in the NASCAR world just on principle. It didn’t help that he knew nothing about how cars work, which infuriates those with grease under their fingernails. He was a flamboyant and entertaining driver who some considered to have as much pure talent as anyone in history. The inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character in Days of Thunder Richmond loved to party, seemingly always with a woman under each arm. Sadly, illness forced him out of the car in 1987 and he never returned. Two years later, in 1989 he died of AIDS at only 34 years old.
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