The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, abbreviated to NASCAR, is currently referred as the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States and is in its 68th season. The three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR are the Sprint Cup, the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series. The NASCAR season consists of a series of races held on purpose-built race tracks. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual NASCAR Championships for each series, one for the drivers, and one for the manufacturers. NASCAR cars race at high speeds in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h). The cars are capable of pulling in excess of five G-forces in some curves. Charlotte, North Carolina is NASCAR's traditional center, where most of the teams are based. However, the sport's scope has expanded significantly in recent years with races being held all over North America.
Tim Richmond (June 7, 1955 - August 13, 1989) was an American race car driver from Ashland, Ohio. He competed in IndyCar racing before transferring to NASCAR's Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series). Richmond was the first driver to change from open wheel racing to NASCAR stock cars, which has since become an industry trend. He won the 1980 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award and had 13 victories during eight NASCAR seasons. Richmond achieved his top NASCAR season in 1986 when he finished third in points. He won seven races that season, more than any other driver on the tour. When he missed the season-opening Daytona 500 in February 1987, media reported that he had pneumonia. The infection most likely resulted from his compromised immune system, which had been weakened by AIDS. The disease would drastically shorten his life. Despite the state of his health, Richmond competed in eight races in 1987, winning two events and one pole position before his final race in August of that year. He attempted a comeback in 1988 before NASCAR banned him for testing positive for a banned substance. Richmond grew up in a wealthy family and lived a debauched lifestyle, earning him the nickname "Hollywood". In describing Richmond's influence in the sport of racing, Lowe's Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler said: "We've never had a race driver like Tim in stock car racing. He was almost a James Dean-like character." When Richmond was cast for a bit part in the 1983 movie Stroker Ace, "He fell right in with the group working on the film," said director Hal Needham. Cole Trickle, the main character in the movie Days of Thunder, played by Tom Cruise, was loosely based on Richmond and his interaction with Harry Hyde and Rick Hendrick.