They called him “King Richard” because he was Top Fuel and Funny Car royalty. Much of the early ‘70s was spent crisscrossing the country as one of the top Funny Car match racers, often at the wheel of Harry Schmidt’s legendary Blue Max machine. “We booked 118 dates one year with that car and probably won 85 percent of our races.” Over one Fourth of July week, they ran seven straight days. But Tharp was also prolific in Top Fuel, where he won the 1976 NHRA Top Fuel championship for Paul Candies and Leonard Hughes and two IHRA Top Fuel titles (1981, 1983). In all, Tharp won eleven IHRA and six NHRA national events, including the 1976 U.S. Nationals and 1983 Springnationals. Competing at a time when there were typically only eight races in a season, he amassed a head-to-head record of 82-46 against the top names in the quarter-mile. Tharp was #49 on NHRA’s 2001 list of its 50 Greatest Drivers. He was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1999.
Frank Costin & Keith Duckworth (Cosworth)