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#Hendrick30th spotlight: Tony Bunnell recalls the 1986 Summer 500 with Tim Richmond

Thirty days. That’s how long Harry Hyde gave me to make a good impression on him upon my arrival at Hendrick Motorsports on July 9, 1984. Harry was the crew chief for the No. 5 car of Geoff Bodine at the time and other than Mr. Hendrick, he was the boss at the top of the hill.  If he liked me after 30 days, I could keep working as a body man painter on the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports. If not, I was to go back home to Ohio and find a job there.

I must have done something right because I’ve been here ever since.

And it’s a good thing too – because if I had left after 30 days, I would have never been able to celebrate with Tim Richmond in Victory Lane when he swept Pocono in 1986.

I remember that 1986 Summer 500 like it was yesterday. Rain poured from the sky as lightning cracked across the clouds. The roar of the thunder rivaled the rumbling of the unrestricted engines. I had moved up in the ranks and was now working as a paint supervisor on the No. 25 car. 

When NASCAR officials waved the red flag for inclement weather, I went over to Tim’s No. 25 Chevy with an umbrella, my feet sloshing around in several inches of rain water. He took one look at me and the umbrella and said, “What do you have an umbrella for? Look at my feet!”

When the track – and Tim’s feet – finally dried, the race began and I was ready to take home another victory at Pocono. We had won the Pennsylvania race a few months earlier and there was nothing I wanted more at that time than to sweep the track. And when Tim’s windshield broke during the race, I knew the win was ours for the taking; every time debris shattered Tim’s glass windshield during a race, we emerged victorious.

Since the days of Tim Richmond, Hendrick Motorsports has dominated “The Tricky Triangle,” collecting a series-high 16 wins since its opening in 1984. And as we’ve won the past four races at the track, I have no doubt in my mind that this week will be no exception. Tim put a young Hendrick Motorsports on the map early on, and we’re here to stay for a long time.


Tony Bunnell

Paint supervisor

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