- Associated Press - Monday, October 18, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Tim Richmond leaned out the window of a condominium high above Turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, watching a race go on without him. The sound of the cars whizzing by left him breathless, his longing to be on the track obvious.

It was Oct. 10, 1987, and Richmond had been out of a car almost two months.

“This is what I used to do here, and I will do it again and I hope I’ll do it well,” he tells a camera crew.

He never did race again.

Richmond’s rapid rise and fall in NASCAR _ he became a superstar in just six full seasons of racing, only to become one of its most controversial figures in his losing battle with AIDS _ has been captured by ESPN in its 30 for 30 documentary series. The latest installment, “Tim Richmond To The Limit,” is broadcast Tuesday night.

Produced and directed by NASCAR Media Group, the documentary relies on old interviews and race footage, as well as lookbacks by those who knew Richmond and watching his roller-coaster ride through NASCAR.

It doesn’t sugarcoat anything.

Richmond had his struggles when he entered NASCAR in 1980. He was flamboyant, loved clothes, women and parties, and didn’t lead the same lifestyle as his fellow competitors.

“I am trying to prove that I was put on this earth to have fun,” says Richmond early in the film, “to succeed at the fun department.”

Did he ever.

Born into a family of wealth, Richmond didn’t have to claw his way into a ride. While Richard Petty sported a cowboy hat and boots _ the common wear for the good ol’ boys of NASCAR then _ Richmond preferred silk suits and split his home between a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and an apartment in New York City.

He also loved a good time.

Almost any footage that exists today of Richmond shows the driver living it up in a beer-spray shower in Victory Lane and surrounded by pretty girls. In one scene, he’s shown sporting a Tim Richmond T-shirt that says “Sleep with a winner.”

It rubbed most of his competitors the wrong way.

“I knew he was a heck of a race car driver,” Petty says in a present-day interview, “but I don’t know how strung out he was on something to make him that way. You know what I mean? I mean, if I was taking something, it might have been different, too.”

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