Monday, October 25, 2010

ESPN 30 for 30: Tim Richmond: To the Limit

Tim Richmond: To the Limit is the twenty-sixth film in ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The documentary looks at the life of race car driver Tim Richmond.

Born into a wealthy family, Tim Richmond was a flamboyant open wheel and NASCAR driver. In the late 1970's, Richmond raced sprint and Indy race cars. He was named the 1980 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

In 1980, Richmond switched to stock cars. Esquire magazine named Richmond as one of "the best of the new generation" in 1984. Improving steadily, he won seven NASCAR races and finished third in the Winston Cup series points race in 1986.

Richmond was the antithesis of the Southern, blue-collar, dirt-track racers who dominated NASCAR. Living a fairly debauched lifestyle, he earned the nickname "Hollywood." Richmond was a showman who basked in the attention of the media and fans, especially the attention of female admirers.

Reportedly suffering from double pneumonia, Richmond unexpectedly withdrew from the NASCAR racing circuit. In reality, he had AIDS. Richmond returned to the track in 1987, but he was gone from the sport by the next year as his health deteriorated.

He spent his final days as a recluse, dying on August 13, 1989, at the age of 34.

Like a number of the 30 for 30 films, I did not know this story; I had never heard of Tim Richmond. Interestingly, Bill Simmons mentioned in a mail bag almost a year ago that the story of Tim Richmond was a 30 for 30 documentary that he wished was made but wasn't. Somewhere along the way, the film got made.

Tim Richmond: To the Limit is an interesting, but not great documentary. I felt that it dragged a little in the last third. I would rank it about 20th out of the 30 for 30 films that I have seen to-date.

The film is available on Amazon.

Tim Richmond: To the Limit is also available on iTunes.

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