The Road Racing Drivers Club has announced that it will be hosting an “Evening with Rick Mears” Dinner with proceeds going to benefit the RRDC’s young driver initiatives.
Google “Rick Mears” and, by rights, you should be directed to multiple Wikipedia entries: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner of course, but also racer and gentleman. For his singular fusion of scrupulously clean racing and modest grace made Rick not just a racer’s racer, but one of motorsports’ finest ambassadors; one who autographed countless hats and tee shirts “Rick Mears – Thanks!” And meant every word of it.
Although he didn’t make the show in his first go-round at Indianapolis, Rick caught the eye of Roger Penske who later offered him a part-time ride the following season. All the kid from Bakersfield did was qualify on the front row at Indianapolis and collect the first three of his 29 IndyCar wins, securing a job with “The Captain.”
The next year Mears captured his first Indy 500 and National Championship. Two more Indy wins, a pair of national titles, even a promising F1 test followed. But all was not milk and champagne. In ’84 a crash resulted in terrible lower extremity injuries. Following an agonizing rehabilitation, he returned to action, winning the Pocono 500 less than a year after his accident.
Victorious from Phoenix to Brands Hatch, Milwaukee to Laguna Seca, Rick had a special affinity for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When a defective wheel nut sent him into the wall during practice in ’91, it was the first time he had so much as spun at The Brickyard. Undaunted, he rebounded to secure a record sixth pole before besting Michael Andretti in an heroic duel to join A.J. Foyt and Al Unser in one of racing’s most exclusive clubs.
While Rick Mears the driver retired after the following season, Rick Mears the racer and gentleman did not. As spotter/advisor he has contributed mightily to the eight championships and 10 Indianapolis 500 wins earned by Team Penske since ’92, even as he has continued signing ever more hats and tee shirts “Rick Mears – Thanks.”
An “Evening with Rick Mears” will be held Thursday, April 16, at the Long Beach Hilton, I conjunction with that weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix. Outdoor cocktails, with some of Rick’s most famous racecars on display, will commence at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:15 p.m. sharp.
Tickets for this annual charity event are $225 ($200 for RRDC members) in advance or $250/$225 after April 10. Reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com