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Rick Mears – the racer’s racer

Submitted by on December 15, 2009

Few images from the halcyon days of 1980s American Indycar racing are as evocative as those featuring Rick Ravon Mears in a Pennzoil-liveried Penske.

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.

2335413597_4150a26532_oBorn 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.

3000631993_f76f67a699_oVictory 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

1979 (champion)

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

1981 (champion)

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

1982 (champion)

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

Henry Hope-Frost

Images: KennethBartonMotorsports, TornioDave72

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