INDIANAPOLIS – Dick Newkirk, a five-time feature winner as a car owner in the USAC National Sprint Car Series with drivers Tony Elliott and Jack Hewitt, passed away Feb. 2.
Newkirk was 85.
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Newkirk fielded his familiar number No. 17 on the circuit throughout the 1990s in USAC competition, appearing in the entrant points each year between 1991 and 2000 and finishing a best of 10th in the 1993 standings.
His involvement in USAC racing included the sponsorship of a USAC Silver Crown machine driven and owned by Danny Milburn.
In fact, Newkirk’s initial sprint car was intended to be driven by Milburn during the 1991 season, but Milburn was fatally injured in a Silver Crown crash at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway in February of that year.
Newkirk then hired Tony Elliott to drive his sprinter. It was with Elliott where Newkirk found his greatest success, winning four USAC National Sprint Car Series races together, at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in 1991 and 1992; the 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in 1993; and at Santa Fe Speedway in Illinois during the 1994 campaign.
Hewitt took over the reins of the Newkirk car in 1999, winning the car owner’s fifth and final USAC National Sprint Car Series feature, at Lawrenceburg Speedway during Indiana Sprint Week.
Among Newkirk’s drivers in USAC National Sprint Car Series competition over the years were Robbie Stanley, Rusty McClure, Tony Stewart, Donnie Beechler, Kevin Huntley, Cary Faas, Brad Marvel, Tim Cox, Kevin Thomas, Tracy Hines and Brian Tyler.
Newkirk was also the great uncle of current USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car driver Nick Bilbee, with Newkirk’s No. 17 serving as the inspiration for the number that Bilbee sports on his cars.