At 15 years of age, Chris Trickle is carrying on the family name that has been made so famous by his great uncle, former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor and Short Track Racing legend, Dick Trickle.
Chris is a fourth-generation Super Late Model driver hailing out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He currently competes regularly in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV), home of Kurt and Kyle Busch of NASCAR fame. He already has 24 feature victories to his name at the facility and is looking to branch out this year to other tracks on the West Coast to get experience at a variety of different venues.
“Little Chris,” as he is known by his family, is the grandson of Chuck and Barbara Trickle whom he refers to as mom and dad. Chuck had another son named Chris (known to the family as Big Chris), who was a rising star in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series with aspirations of moving up into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. During the 1996 season, at the age of 24, “Big Chris” finished fourth in the season points standings with a win in the highly competitive NASCAR Southwest Tour Series. The following season saw Big Chris score consecutive top-five finishes in the first two events of the year before he was tragically shot in a drive-by shooting while driving not far from home. Big Chris would spend the next year fighting for his life before sadly succumbing to his injuries. The shooter was never captured and the crime remains unsolved to this day.
Chris hadn’t been born at that time, but remembers how his family dealt, and continues to deal with the tragedy.
“We just really had to come together as a family to get through it. When we come together, all as one, it makes us all stronger and allows us to deal with our loss so much better,” Chris told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Trickle family continued on in the sport that they love so much. Chris began racing at the age of five, racing in go karts and grabbing a couple of championships before moving to the Bandolero class at ”The Bullring.” In 2010 he was the USLCI Bandolero Bandits Champion. He moved up to the USLCI Legends class soon after and won several races in those as well, but was looking to move beyond them. At the end of the 2014 season, at the age of 14, Chris moved up to the NASCAR Super Late Model class at “The Bullring”. Chris won in only his third career start, beating six-time Bullring SLM Champion Scott Gafforini, NASCAR K&N West star Noah Gragson and Dallas Montes to name a few in the field of 18. With that win, Chris became the youngest driver, at that time, with a NASCAR license to win a NASCAR sanctioned race.
2015 saw Chris compete full-time in the NASCAR Super Late Model Division at “The Bullring,” winning the last two races of the season to finish third in the points standings and win Rookie of the Year. Hoping to carry that momentum into 2016, the team started off the season in February at the “Chili Willy 100” at Tucson Speedway (AZ), former home of the NASCAR Winter Heat Series in the 90’s. The results were not what they had hoped for when there was a mix-up with the tires, resulting in a 26th place finish.
The beginning of the Super Late Model season at “The Bullring” has been consistent, with no finishes outside the top six, but a little disappointing as Little Chris sits fifth in the championship standings.
“Last season was our rookie season in the Late Model, and this year we are really progressing as a family and that’s the biggest thing right now. This year has definitely been a bumpy road and we are looking to just push through it,” said Chris Trickle. “Right now we are trying to get the team ready for next year where we would like to move up to the NASCAR K&N Series or something like that”
This last weekend, Chris traveled to Madera Speedway (CA) for the first time to participate in the nationally televised LoanMart Open Late Model Series as well as the 51Fifty Junior Late Model Series events. Chris passed the most cars on the night in the Junior Late Model race to finish third after several trips to the back, which were not of his own doing in the 15 car field. Later in the evening, he was not able to finish the Open Late Model race, when a battery went dead after progressing to eighth in the 25 car field.
This weekend Chris will be looking forward to returning to his home track when The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts the “Chris Trickle Classic,” named after his uncle, Big Chris. Last year he was able to finish second in the event, but would like to move up one spot in this year’s edition.
“It would be really special to win this race. We got to race in it last year, but we didn’t get the win. I think it would be so special to win it, especially for my dad (Chuck). I really would like to win it for him.”
“You know what, that would be very special,” Chuck remarked. “Chris’ heart would just jump four miles into the air if he could win that race. It would be so special for him. I think we have a chance because he is such a talented driver, but right now we are just missing something in the car, but I feel that he can make up for it with his talent. It would just be so special.”
That talent that Chuck speaks of has definitely been handed down through the Trickle blood lines. Chris’ great uncle Dick was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year in 1989 at the age of 49. He was able to garner 15 top-five efforts in his career that saw him racing for mostly lower budget teams. He is estimated to have won somewhere around 1,200 short track races in his career that centered in the Midwest and Wisconsin areas. He is esteemed as one of the best, if not the best, all-time short track drivers in the country. Chris remembers getting to spend some time with him when he was growing up.
“I remember my uncle would come out to visit us here in Las Vegas and help me out with my Bandolero car. He was definitely a big influence in my racing career. I got to hang out with him because he was my uncle and that was cool, but I was pretty young when we were at the track. I do remember the last time I got to talk to him before he passed away (2013), he gave me the advice to keep my nose clean and to keep digging, so that is what I’m pushing towards. He may not be able to come out to the track and show me the lines but he gave me that quote and it never lets me down. I would like to get to NASCAR (Sprint Cup) and he was in NASCAR. He was the best of the best so that really was a big influence on me. It just makes me want to be even better than that”
Chris’ biggest influence, however, was his grandfather Chuck, who was also a successful racer on the West Coast. Chuck’s career didn’t start off that way, when he and his uncle borrowed his brother Dick’s race car while Dick was away in Nebraska.
“We towed up to this (now defunct) racetrack called Rangeline Raceway (WI) that was a dirt track in the middle of a field that someone had just put a grader on. I bet there were 20 cars there that day and somehow I ended up on the pole in my first ever race (at the age of 15). We got the green flag, I took off, I jumped the hole shot and I didn’t even turn and I went right off the track. I was so panicky that I forgot to turn. I don’t know why I even started on the front row. That was the end of my early racing career as I really wanted to be a baseball player or even a businessman when I grew up.”
Chuck did find racing success later in his life in both the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Racing Series and also in participation in the Baja 1000. He won the prestigious Mint 400 in the Class 9 Division competing against 65 other trucks in 1983. He returned to the oval tracks when a newspaper reporter convinced him to drive a car that a friend of his wanted Chuck to drive in the Hobby Stock Class.
“There were about 20 cars in this class and I told the owner that if I won the race, I would buy the car. I felt safe knowing I had no chance of winning,” Chuck recalled. Somehow I was in third place, way behind the leaders, when we took the white flag. The two leaders where side by side and they just hit each other and boom, one went left and one went right. I just went right between them, came around and got the checkered flag and won the race. I still have that car and I would like to put it back together someday.”
After years of racing off and on, Chuck would go on to win the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Super Late Model title at “The Bullring” in 2003 at the age of 59.
“My dad (Chuck) is the biggest influence in my racing career,” Chris would say. “He is my dad, he won a championship at The Bullring and he hasn’t let me down yet. He is definitely the biggest influence for me.”
With all the talent in the family, and with the Trickle name, there could be a lot of added pressure to perform well.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure being a Trickle,” said Chris. “Every time I show up to the race track, people will look at the car and say, dang, Trickle is here. That makes me feel good, but at the same time it’s like I have a target on my back. There is a lot of pressure, but I have to say I’m loving the pressure right now.”
When asked whether being a Trickle is an advantage or a disadvantage Chris sees it as the former.
“To me, I think it can be more of an advantage. Honestly, I feel like it helps me to put more time and energy into the car. I have a lot of motivation to do it, as I am out in the shop every day working on the car to make them better”
Looking ahead to this year and beyond, Chris is looking to win a championship at The Bullring in the Super Late Model class and gather additional experience at different tracks throughout the West. The following season he would like to move up to a touring series such as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, Lucas Oil Modified Series or even a few NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. But all those plans hinge on sponsorship.
“We are so very thankful to Star Nursery, DJ Safety, CSM Graphics, BG Products, Jim Wisz at RCH and Wahl Traction for their sponsorship,” said Chuck Trickle. “We have struggled financially, however, and haven’t been able to give Chris all the support he needs to run well and move up. He has so much talent, just like Big Chris and his uncle Dick. I would love to get him in a (NASCAR) Truck Series race at a short track, but we would be happy to get the chance to run in any of the big series out here or to even run a full season of Super Late Models in the Midwest where we can run several races a week and it is so much cheaper. It is so expensive to run out here in the West that makes it difficult to afford. ”
Currently the Trickle family is busy preparing and working on a new reality series called “The Trickle Effect,” which is being produced by AVD Studios. It chronicles the past and present racing adventures of the family in racing. For a preview of the show, fans can go to “Trickle Effect Teaser” to catch a glimpse into the show.
As for right now, look for Chris to make his mark in the Super Late Model ranks starting with the Chris Trickle Classic this weekend at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where a win in this event would mean the world to him and his family.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent