When you hear the name Mears, the first person that pops into your mind might be the three-time IndyCar series/World Series champion Rick Mears or “Rocket Rick.” He is also one of only four drivers to win the Indy 500 four times.
But if you ask Rocket Rick who was his favorite driver to race with, he will say his older brother Roger – one of the top off-road drivers in the sport’s history.
Roger Mears was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Saturday, October 30, at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas.
“In addition to his phenomenal off-road racing statistics, Roger Mears also competed in 31 IndyCar Series races including two Indy 500s and recorded 17 Top-10 finished with a best of fourth place,” the news release announcing the induction says.
“But Roger’s 20 world Off-Road Championships at the historic Riverside International Raceway, four Baja 1000 wins, five Pikes Peak International Hill Climbs, two HDRA/SCORE series titles and a Mickey Thompson Stadium Series Truck crown distinguishes that the older brother had a spectacular career.”
The Mears brothers kickstarted their racing career in the driver’s seats of go-karts and motorcycles racing at Ascot Park Sprint Buggy, Riverside, Pikes Peak and the Southwest desert in the early 1970s.
Roger eventually followed Rocket Rick into IndyCar racing.
“Despite competing full-time in only two IndyCar campaigns, Roger put together strong showings despite driving second-hand equipment. His peers knew that as well and named him ‘Most Improved Driver’ in 1983.”
Due to the lack of good IndyCar rides available to him, Roger Mears returned to off-road racing, making many wins in the Mickey Thompson Stadium series. During this time, he also started his own racing operation with Nissan, Budweiser and Bridgestone partnerships.
“One of the more remarkable Roger Mears stories dates back to 1980 when he flipped a sprint car at Ascot Park and broke both arms,” the news release shares. “Doctors advised him to rest but the Baja 1000 was coming in a few weeks and Roger was battling for the series title. So, the doctors decided on surgery with plates in Roger’s arms.
“Mears, with help from his dad driving too, drove 70 percent of the race and finished the 1000 miles. He took the SCORE Class 3 series title in the famed Budweiser Jeep Honcho, the same machine which won 12 of 22 races in a three-year period.
Roger Mears and his wife are now retired in Mexico after following their son, Casey, as he competed in the NASCAR Cup stock car series.
“I have raced many forms of racing,” Roger Mears is quoted in the news release. “Competing in off-road races was and is still my favorite form of racing. With off-road racing there is a lot of seat time, driving a race car for hours and hours, all the terrain changes, weather changes, the challenges that come with racing in the desert. I still have off-road cars and my retired time is to play in the desert every day!
It means a great deal to me and is an honor to be inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. It is nice to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication for myself and everyone involved with our teams. I couldn’t have had any of my success without our hardworking crew giving me suburb equipment to drive. Definitely a team effort!”