News & Multimedia

An Exclusive Interview with Rick Mears

Rick Mears smiles broadly as he recalls two race cars that helped make him famous. They were both beautiful – the March chassis from 1984 and the Penske chassis from 1988 – and both won the Indianapolis 500. But what Mears remembers most vividly about those cars is what almost everyone else recalls first.

The color.

“That was the great thing – and the most troublesome thing – about those cars,” Mears says. “Nobody missed you in that bright yellow car, but that was also the problem. Nobody missed you. It was a gorgeous color and two gorgeous race cars, but if I made a mistake in that color, everybody noticed it.”

There’s more behind Mears’ smile than memories of two of his four Indy 500 winners. He’s also thrilled that the Pennzoil brand is returning to IndyCar racing and Team Penske. Shell-Pennzoil announced last week that it would sponsor Helio Castroneves car for the 2011 Indy 500. Castroneves has won the race three times.

Mears is not only rooting for Castroneves to break the record of four shared with A.J. Foyt and Al Unser, he’s helping him; Mears is a consultant for Team Penske, serving as a driver coach.

“I joked with Helio when we saw the new car that if he had the setup I had when I drove the Pennzoil cars, he’d easily win his fourth and fifth,” Mears said. “He liked that idea.”

The new paint scheme isn’t nearly as loud as Mears’ banana-yellow cars of ’84 and ’88, but it is just as striking. Incorporating silver, red and black with the Pennzoil yellow, Castroneves’ entry will make its run at tying the all-time record when practice for the 100th anniversary Indy 500 begins May 13. All four of Mears’ Indy 500 victories – 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991 – came with Roger Penske’s race team. In ’84, he won by more than two laps. In ’88, he came from a lap down to win. Penske has won the race a record 15 times as a team owner, and he brings an iconic brand back for his attempt at No. 16.

“Roger loves putting a deal together,” says Mears, who also coaches drivers in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. “Just watching him for all these years, I’ve come to realize that he’s a straight shooter. A deal is only a good deal for Roger when it’s a good deal for both parties. He understands that, and that’s one of the reasons he’s had the opportunities. Roger’s always understood that if it’s not good for both parties, it’s not going to work for either one.”

This deal appears to be working our perfectly for both. Castroneves gets a shot at Indy history, Pennzoil gets back in the drivers’ seat, and Mears gets to recall two bright moments in his historic career. “Pennzoil coming back is just great,” Mears says. “I drove for them for seven or eight years. It’s a great company to work with, a great partner for racing. They always helped us put together good cars, and this one will be good, too. And it’s gorgeous.” Mears pauses and smiles again. “But it’s bright,” he says. “I reminded Helio of that. If you make a mistake, everybody will see it.” And if you win?

The world will know it.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
An Exclusive Interview with Rick Mears
 
An Exclusive Interview with Rick Mears
An exclusive interview with four-time Indy 500 winner, Rick Mears, on what Pennzoil's partnership with Penske Racing will mean for Helio Castroneves this season.
Read More
Related Media
James Hinchcliffe Drives a Vintage Porsche
 
Hinchcliffe Tests Legendary Sports Cars at IMS
The three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner was tasked by R&T to test drive a Porsche 962, one of the most legendary sports cars on the planet, alongside Porsche’s new 918, at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an upcoming issue.
Read More
Juan Montoya
 
Montoya Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Montoya, 39, who grew up in Bogota, Colombia, equates his outlook on life to his proud heritage. Through Oct. 15, Americans are observing National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of residents whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Read More
James Hinchcliffe
 
Hinchcliffe Joins Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2015
The three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner has signed a multi-year contract with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to drive the team's No. 77 entry, beginning with the 2015 race season.
Read More
Borg-Warner Trophy
 
New IMS Website Debuts
Fans of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will find a new online experience at the redesigned IMS.com.
Read More
'500' Champion Hunter-Reay to Compete in Race of Champions
 
'500' Champion Hunter-Reay to Compete in Race of Champions
Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will represent the Verizon IndyCar Series in the annual Race of Champions, slated to take place at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados on December 13-14.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 855
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Phil Sparks at (317) 492-6463 or email at psparks@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
You may know Patrick Nalon as an IMS tour guide or you may know him as the son of #Indy500 competitor Duke Nalon: http://t.co/KByRu8HnZU
about 18 hours ago