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RAIN DELAYS START OF INDY 500 PRACTICE
Four time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears awaits the rain delayed start of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN on May 11, 2006. Rick serves as Helio Castroneves' team manager. (UPI Photo/ Bill Coons)
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Rick Ravon Mears (born December 3, 1951 in Wichita, Kansas) is a retired American race car driver. He is one of three men to have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times (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 CART 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 Tom Sneva and Mario Andretti, Andretti was also racing in Formula One with Lotus at the time and Penske wanted another young driver who would focus exclusively on American racing. For 1978 Mears was offered a ride in nine of the eighteen championship races, including the Indianapolis 500.

Mears qualified on the front row at Indy, but did not lead a lap and retired at 104 laps with a blown engine. Two weeks later, at the Rex Mays 150 at Milwaukee, he bounced back to win his first race. He added another win another month later at Atlanta and rounded off the year with his first road course win at Brands Hatch as the USAC cars made their only visit to England. In 1979 the National Championship sanction changed from the USAC to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). At Indianapolis he won his first "500" by virtue of staying at the front of the field and taking the lead as other drivers dropped out with mechanical problems. Three wins and four seconds in the eleven CART-eligible races won Mears his first championship. His worst finish in the season was seventh in Trenton's second heat. In 1980 the ground effect Chaparral was technologically more advanced that the other chassis. Mears finished in fourth place in the points with one win, scored at Mexico City.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rick Mears."
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