INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 3, 2003 -- Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears has been hired by the Indy Racing League as a driver coach and consultant for the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, league officials announced Feb. 3. In his role, Mears...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 3, 2003 -- Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears has been hired by the Indy Racing League as a driver coach and consultant for the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, league officials announced Feb. 3.
In his role, Mears will mentor and coach promising drivers as they hone their skills in the Infiniti Pro Series in hopes of competing in the IRL IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. He will work closely with Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of racing operations for the IRL, and Roger Bailey, executive director of the Infiniti Pro Series.
"We're incredibly pleased to have Rick Mears join the Infiniti Pro Series," Bailey said. "He brings so much credibility, along with experience. Rick will be a great asset to the Infiniti Pro Series drivers. They now have someone to go to that is dedicated specifically to the Pro Series."
Mears will work exclusively for the Infiniti Pro Series, while fellow four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser and three-time "500" champion Johnny Rutherford will continue to serve as coaches and consultants for the IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series drivers.
"The position is driver coach and that's my main focus, to help out," Mears said. "I want to help in any way I can. I'm excited to be involved with the Infiniti Pro Series and with these young guys coming up. In my early years when other drivers helped me, that was key."
Mears made his Indy-style racing debut in 1976 at Ontario Motor Speedway and drove for current IRL IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske from 1978-92. In addition to his record-tying four "500" wins, Mears captured a record six poles at Indianapolis and won from that position three times, a unmatched feat.
Well-known for his success on ovals, Mears scored 28 Indy-style victories throughout his career, with 20 on ovals.
Mears, who captured CART titles in 1979, 1981 and 1982, retired from driving in December 1992 and has served as a consultant to Penske Racing since then. He will continue as a consultant for Marlboro Team Penske's IRL IndyCar Series effort.