Rick Ravon Mears (born December 3, 1951 in Wichita, Kansas) is a retired American race car driver. He is one of three men to be four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991), and the current record-holder for pole positions in the race with six (1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991). Mears is also a three-time Indycar national champion (1979, 1981 and 1982).
Mears was raised in Bakersfield, California, and began his racing career in off-road racing. He switched to Indy Car racing in the late 1970s, making his debut for the small Art Sugai team, driving an Eagle-Offenhauser. His speed attracted the attention of Roger Penske. Although at the time Penske Racing had the services of Mario Andretti and Tom Sneva. Andretti was also racing in Formula One with Lotus at the time but Penske wanted another young driver who would focus exclusively on American racing. For 1978, Mears was offered a part-time ride in nine of the 18 championship races, filling in when Andretti was overseas. The arrangement also included a ride at the Indianapolis 500.
In his rookie appearance at Indy, Mears qualified on the front row, and was the first rookie to qualify over 200 mph. When the race began, Mears discovered his helmet was not strapped on tight enough and he had to pit to get it safely secured. He did not lead a lap and retired at 104 laps with a blown engine. He ended up sharing "Rookie of the Year" honors with Larry Rice. Two weeks later, at the Rex Mays 150, he won his first race. He added another win a month later at Atlanta and rounded off the year with his first road course win at Brands Hatch...
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