Getty Images

While neither his career nor life enjoyed the privilege of length of days, the great Tim Richmond nonetheless made an indelible mark on NASCAR by becoming one of the sport's most colorful and charismatic personalities of the 1980s. At Darlington Raceway, the legacy that Richmond left will hit the track in living color when Tyler Reddick and his team unload an especially distinct nod to his legendary career.

On Thursday, Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing unveiled his MoneyLion Toyota for throwback weekend at Darlington, which will pay homage to the No. 29 Motorcraft Ford that Tim Richmond drove at Rockingham Speedway early in the 1982 season. While Richmond only drove the No. 29 for car owner Mike Lovern once before going to drive for J.D. Stacy, this car is notable in that it was the first time Richmond was paired with crew chief Harry Hyde. The duo would later reunite at Hendrick Motorsports in 1986, when Richmond broke out and became one of NASCAR's biggest stars before health problems and a secret battle with AIDS cut his career and ultimately his life short.

23XI Racing

This isn't the first time that Reddick has paid tribute to Richmond during throwback weekend: In 2018, he ran the same Old Milwaukee paint scheme that Richmond once drove for car owner Raymond Beale in an Xfinity Series race. But this time around, he decided to make a little deeper cut in paying homage to a figure who influenced the race car driver he is today.

"Visually I really liked what this car had to offer. I really wanted to see it on the Next Gen platform," Reddick told CBS Sports. "And on top of that too -- he was before my time, obviously -- but watching what Tim did on the racetrack, his personality -- he never hid it. He did a really good job of just being himself and not really changing it for anybody, and having a lot of fun while doing it.

"For me, this one just made a lot of sense. We've seen plenty of the other throwbacks over the years, I feel like this was a good one to kind of pull out from under the rug and give it a try."

Now in his fifth Cup season, Reddick has shown to have quite the personality himself. That much was obvious after his win at Talladega, which featured him hooting and hollering himself hoarse after a celebration that included everything from him vaulting up the catch fence on the frontstretch to sharing the moment with car owner and NBA icon Michael Jordan. But from the time Reddick first came to NASCAR as a 16-year-old in what was then the K&N Pro Series to now, fully unsheathing who he is and what exuberance he has to offer was something of a gradual process leading up to when Reddick became a winning driver and two-time champion in Xfinity competition.

"I think for me the biggest thing was I had to get used to NASCAR and asphalt racing and just the flow of things over here on this side of the racing world," Reddick said. "Growing up racing dirt, the environment and just the layout of your day, of your weekend, is just a whole lot different. So that was just a learning curve for me.

"When I spent as much time as I did in dirt, I pretty much knew everybody I was racing with. And it's taken time to become more familiar with everybody that we have in the garage. I guess it just took me a little more time to be myself, I guess. 

"But again, I look at a guy like Tim. From Day 1, that guy was himself and he wasn't gonna change for anybody. That's what made him who he was, and if you're just yourself you're just gonna have more fun doing what you do. You're gonna find the things that you love, and you're gonna enjoy the heck out of it while you do it."

Reddick's full send celebration felt influenced, at least in part, by the dramatic nature in which he claimed his first win of the 2024 season: Staying in the throttle to split the gap between Brad Keselowski and the spinning car of Michael McDowell, allowing him to motor past the two Fords that had collided racing for the win and beat everyone back to the finish line. 

"It was just a wild moment. It happened so fast -- I don't even know if I would've had time to react if it did go wrong ... You've just got to be fully committed in those moments," Reddick said. "I've hit really hard a few times. It goes away after a couple minutes. I was willing to take the risk."

With his win now putting him and his team on the NASCAR playoff grid, Reddick believes that his group at 23XI has the capability to win multiple races in the regular season. He showed winning form at Las Vegas and Texas as well, and he enters Kansas Speedway this weekend having won the last Cup race there last September, and with 23XI as a whole having won three out of the last four Kansas races.

The idea now is for Reddick and his team to take advantage of the days where they have winning form, and also to get the most out of all other days as well.

"I think for us, the biggest thing we can do to help ourselves when the playoffs come around is just continue to work on our consistency and maximizing our days, good and bad," Reddick said. "We've really got to win on the good days. On the days where realistically we're gonna run somewhere from fifth to 10th, we've got to figure out how to finish on the front side of that. We've been working on it.

"Obviously Dover our top-10 streak got snapped, but we still finished 11th. It wasn't like we finished 30th. We're being consistent and we're gonna keep working on those things."

Winning the Goodyear 400 at Darlington on throwback weekend would certainly help to that end, and it would also put Reddick in the same conversation as Richmond -- who took the checkered flag in the 1986 Southern 500 -- as a Darlington winner. Doing it in his Richmond throwback scheme, on a weekend where everyone from the grandstands to the garage always seems to bring their throwback best, would undoubtedly sweeten that distinction.

"For me one of the most fun weekends in the garage is when an entire team really gets behind in their outfits, their choice of shoe, hat, the way they wear their clothing or their outfits. It's just a really fun time. And then the fans reflect that as well. 

"I feel like you see a lot of the really passionate race fans that we have in our sport break out their best old-school gear of their favorite drivers growing up. I feel like I'm gonna see a lot of jorts -- that's okay, they might be coming back, I'm not totally sure. 

"But for me it's cool to see the teams, the drivers, and the fans all really being bought into the whole idea of it. Because there's a lot of drivers and teams and moments in history that have not just happened at Darlington, but in the history of our sport -- the legendary moments, legendary drivers -- and I think it's always gonna be important to recognize those and their efforts."