Rick Mears – the racer’s racer
Thanks to his status as one of only three drivers to have won US single-seater racing’s biggest event – the Indianapolis 500 – on four occasions, Mears’s place in the pantheon of legendary racers from across the pond is justified, as this slick film about his career proves.
Born in Kansas in 1951 but raised in California’s sunshine state, Mears and his brother Roger soon developed a passion for off-road racing, thanks to father Bill’s passion for the sport and willingness to get his hands dirty. Rick’s skill at adapting to all manner of different terrain in the 1000-mile desert races in which he excelled marked him out as a special talent.
Soon enough, Mears made the switch to circuit racing – and the lure of Indy became all-pervading. Having failed to qualify at his first attempt at The Brickyard in 1977 aboard Art Sugai’s Eagle, the call came from Indycar impresario Roger Penske. And it was a summons that would catapult Mears’s career into orbit.
Victory in just his second Indy start in 1979 aboard a Penske-Cosworth was followed by two further CART championship race wins – at Trenton and Atlanta – and the first of three PPG Cup drivers’ titles.
Over the course of the next dozen years, Mears would add his name to the greatest names the sport has ever seen. Three further Indy 500 wins – in 1984, 1988 and 1991 – were complemented by 23 championship wins, all for the man who had given him his big break at the end of the 1970s.
Rick Mears – Indycar victories
Milwaukee, Jun 18-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Atlanta, Jul 23-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Brands Hatch, Oct 7-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Indianapolis 500, May 27-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Trenton, Aug 19-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Atlanta, Sep 30-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Mexico City, Oct 26-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Atlanta Race 1 (Jun 28)-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Atlanta Race 2 (Jun 28)-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Riverside, Aug 30-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Michigan, Sep 20-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Watkins Glen, Oct 4-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Mexico City, Oct 18-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Phoenix, Mar 28-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Atlanta, May 1-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Pocono, Aug 15-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Riverside, Aug 29-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Michigan, Sep 18-Penske Racing Penske-Cosworth
Indianapolis 500, May 27-Penske Racing March-Cosworth
Pocono, Aug 18-Penske Racing March-Cosworth
Pocono, Aug 16-Penske Racing March-Chevrolet
Indianapolis 500, May 29-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Milwaukee, Jun 5-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Phoenix, Apr 9-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Milwaukee, Jun 4-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Laguna Seca, Oct 15-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Phoenix, Apr 8-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Indianapolis 500, May 26-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet
Michigan, Aug 4-Penske Racing Penske-Chevrolet