A Richard Tharp episode that I witnessed will give you an insight as to
how he operated.
At the 1970 World Finals in Dallas, I was just a rookie with NHRA –
serving basically as Jack Hart's "gopher." One night during the
event, Tharp invited Jack and his wife Hazel and me out to dinner. As
Richard was driving us down some busy Dallas freeway, he casually asked
Hart where his invitation to the inaugural Ontario Supernationals was...
he had not received it. (That event was an all-invitational deal.) Well,
Hart kinda hemmed and hawed, and finally told Tharp that the invitations
were based on the number of NHRA races that the person had run, and that
since he (Richard) had not been to the required number, that,
unfortunately, there would be no invitation.
Without hesitation, Tharp slammed on the brakes -- in real heavy
traffic -- put the car in park, threw the keys on the floor, and said he
would not move the car until he was invited to Ontario! Hazel was in an
absolute panic, and it scared the hell out of me. It took about 10 seconds
for Hart to see that Hazel was on the verge of a heart attack, and said to
Richard, "Whatever you want... just get us the hell out of
here." Tharp got his invitation the next day.
One other freeway trip with Richard in Indianapolis... Just the two of us
were out carousing, trying to find an on-ramp to get someplace we probably
didn't need to be. He was driving, and again scared the crap out of me.
After about 10 minutes of searching for an on-ramp without any luck,
Richard found an off-ramp, and simply used it! He made a 180-degree turn
at the top of the ramp, and we were home free.
I avoided riding with him after those two trips.