One of the best all-round good guys of Australian V8 Supercars racing, Jason Richards, has lost his race against cancer.
The talented 35-year-old had approached his diagnosis of adrenocortical carcinoma in November last year, and subsequent battle, with the same determination that took him to the top of V8 racing.
While having surgery, chemotherapy, drug trials and a trip to Michigan in the US for expert advice, the perennially happy Richards never thought he might lose and continued to race in various support classes.
Richards was one of those rare motor racers who never had a bad word to say about anyone and for most of his career chose loyalty over the fastest car.
He never held secrets or grudges and was never seen to stomp around a pit garage when things weren't going as planned. He was never selfish or bad-tempered and had endless enthusiasm for his job and team.
Brad Jones Racing, his team at the time he discovered he had cancer, summed him up rather well in a released statement: "The history books will not do him justice. Given the right equipment JR was easily a front-runner but chose team loyalty over personal gain, determined to work with his crew to reach the front of the grid together.
"Through the highs and lows of racing, JR's uplifting presence and casual, self-effacing wit were unwavering and his effect he had on team morale is irreplaceable."
Four-time Bathurst winner and fellow Kiwi Greg Murphy agrees that Richards was an example to them all.
"Jason the way he was, the personality and how he played the game and what it meant to him to be in Supercars and how he raced and how excited he always was is a lesson to all of us," said Murphy.
Richards will unfortunately be remembered as the bridesmaid at Bathurst, having finished second three times. However, in the run-up to his fulltime gig in the V8s, Richards had plenty to be proud of.
He started karting at 8 in Nelson and won 35 championships before stepping up to cars. After a brief flirtation with Mini 7s, Richards moved to Formula Ford here and in the UK. On his return home he signed with BMW Motorsport NZ, winning the Class One Touring Car championships in 1995/96.
He went on to finish second in the NZ Touring Car Championship in 1997/98 before winning the following three championships in a row. By 2000 he was in Australia starting his V8 Supercars career.
Last year was looking like his breakout season when he got the news of his cancer.
He leaves his wife Charlotte and two children, Sienna, 4, and Olivia, 1.
A condolence site has been set up at www.teamboc.com.au where fans can leave messages. Alternatively people can leave posts on the Jason Richards Fan Page on Facebook.