Rick Mears was born December 3, 1951, in Wichita, Kansas. In 1955 he and his family moved to Bakersfield, California, where Mears’ father drove cars and ran Mears Excavation. Mears grew up racing but after high school he joined Mears Excavation and racing became a hobby. In 1976 Mears won the Formula Vee and Super Vee Sports Car Club of America Nationals and drove in the Formula 500. He also became the United States Auto Club rookie of the year. Mears was hired by Penske Racing and in 1978 began racing Indy cars. Mears made his first Indianapolis 500 appearance. Mears tied for rookie of the year after winning three races that season.
In 1979 Mears became a full-time driver and won the pole at Indy 500. Mears also won the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) national circuit. In 1984 Mears won his first Indy 500. On September 7, 1984, Mears was in an accident that broke both his feet, and threatened to end his racing career. However, he was back racing a year later. Mears won several more races before retiring in 1992 after another racing crash that left him injured most of the season.
Mears won eight 500-mile races, including four in Indianapolis, three national championships, and 140 poles. Mears was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1998, and after retirement became an advisor to Team Penske.
Entry: Mears, Rick
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: July 2012
Date Modified: September 2015
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.