In the early 70s Roger, Casey’s Dad, started the “Mears Gang” quite by accident. Roger had prepped race cars in the backyard with many family members and friends volunteering to wrench so that he could race on the weekends. Roger, with family and friends in tow, would show up at different race tracks to shouts of, “Here comes the ‘Mears Gang’. It sparked an idea inside Roger and he went to the drawing board designing the infamous “Mears Gang” logo.
After years of Mears Gang being an active logo, it went dormant as Roger entered the world of professional racing. As Casey’s racing career took off, he decided to bring the Mears Gang back and carry on his Dad’s tradition. We would like to introduce to you the family “race drivers” members of the Mears Gang:
Bill Mears – 65 years of racing and going to races! – Roger’s Dad and Casey’s grandfather. From 1948 to 1956 Bill raced modifieds and jalopies won many races and championships throughout Kansas and Oklahoma. He then moved to Bakersfield, Calif. and continued to race until 1957. At that time, Bill began building race cars for Roger and Rick to race. In the 70s raced and won in off-road races shared with both Roger and Rick. In 1993, Bill drove for Roger Mears Racing, winning his class at the Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb driving a V10 Dodge. He is still very active in attending races and supporting Casey.
Roger Mears – Casey’s Dad. Roger started his racing career in the 60s in stock cars at the local track. He also entered NASCAR races back in the late 60s early 70s. Roger is best known for his success in off-road racing. He won many races at Ascot Park (where the Mears Gang was born), 20 off-road world championship events at Riverside, four Baja 1000’s, two HDRA/SCORE Desert Championships, five Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climbs, Mickey Thompson Stadium Championship which included 13 career Grand National Sport Truck victories, and the Guam Off-Road Championship. (pictured right: Roger in the 60s early 70s.) (pictured right: Roger in the 60s early 70s.)
Roger Mears, Jr. – Casey’s brother. Roger started his professional racing career in 1986. Over the years he raced everything from Bicycles, Go-Karts, Jim Russell School Series, Off-Road to Stock Cars! Roger won the 1986 Baja 1000 in the Super 1600 Division and in 1991 won the Baja 1000 teaming up with his Dad. Roger holds the world record at Bonneville in a propane-powered race car (218.18mph). He posted victories in late model stock cars, and raced in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour through 1996. (pictured right: Roger, Jr. He is about 10 or 11 here.) (pictured right: Roger, Jr. He is about 10 or 11 here.)
Rick Mears – Casey’s Uncle. Rick is a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, three-time CART/PPG Indy Car World Series Champion and holds the record for the most poles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has also earned the most 500-mile race poles, and is tied for 2 nd place with Al Unser and Bobby Unser for most 500-mile victories (8). Rick was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997. He retired from racing in 1992 but remains an active employee of Team Penske.
Clint Mears – Casey’s Cousin, Rick’s son. Clint started racing at a young age in Go-Karts and won many races. He raced for two years in SuperLites, teaming up with Casey. Clint then raced in the Jim Russell School Series and Triple Crown Championship, winning races in the School Series. He went on to race Indy Lights and again teamed up with Casey. Clint won two races from the pole position in 1997 at Milwaukee Mile and California Speedway.
Casey Mears – You frequently hear the clichÈ “having racing in the blood”, but for Casey Mears that statement is particularly true. Mears grew up in a family that made its name in open-wheel racing. His dad, Roger, competed in Indy Cars for a number of years, but off-road racing was his forte. Mears’ Uncle Rick, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, is known as one of the greatest open-wheel drivers of all-time. (pictured right: Casey at 5 months old)
Mears began following in his famous family’s footsteps back in 1982 when the Bakersfield, Calif., native was just four years old. He began racing BMX bicycles before graduating to ATV’s at Bakersfield Speedway in 1984. (pictured right: Casey at 5 months old)
“Racing is all I’ve ever known, but there were times growing up when my parents would encourage me to try other things,” Mears explains. “The racing lifestyle may seem abnormal to some people, but it’s normal to me. When I was younger and in school my teachers always wondered why I missed school on Friday’s and Monday’s. Little did they know I was off visiting a different part of the country every weekend and racing or watching my dad race.”
After racing in go-karts for a season in 1991, Mears began competing in the SuperLites Off-Road Series in 1992 where he posted several top-three finishes. Just two years later Mears again made a quick advancement in his career by beginning to compete in the Jim Russell USAC Triple Crown Championship with a win at Mesa Marin Raceway.
While trying to divert his attention away from racing during his early teenage years, his parents realized that after the 1995 season, it would have taken a small hurricane to pull their son away from racing. That was the year Mears captured the Jim Russell USAC Triple Crown Championship after finishing third the year before. Following his championship season, Mears had a much clearer vision as to what his future would be like, and it definitely included racing. (pictured right: Casey at years old)
“I was well aware of the risks I was taking to pursue a career in racing,” Mears admitted. “I saw my dad struggle through good years and bad years. Racing is one of those careers which requires commitment and 110 percent effort all of the time.” (pictured right: Casey at 4 yrs old)
Mears continued to progress through the ranks and in 1996 he made his Indy Lights Championship Series debut at the Cleveland Grand Prix where he finished eighth. The following year, Mears competed full-time in the Indy Lights Championship Series and in 1999 he finished second in the points championship by a mere 14 points. He was also only the fourth driver in Indy Lights Series history to complete every lap in a single season. Mears continued to compete in the Indy Lights Series in 2000 and won his first race at the Grand Prix of Houston in October.
After testing Indy Cars for multiple teams in 2000, Mears was offered a chance to drive a third entry for Team Rahal at California Speedway in October. He qualified 15th and led 10 laps, before posting a career-best fourth-place finish in his CART Series debut.
Mears ran three IRL events at the start of the 2001 season before eventually finishing up the season filling in for an injured Alex Zanardi in the CART Series. He posted one top-10 finish in four starts. As the CART season wound down, Mears started taking a look at making a major turn in his racing career.
Wayne Jesel, a partner in the reorganized Welliver-Jesel Motorsports organization, contacted Mears about a possible NASCAR Busch Series ride. Besides a couple of testing sessions with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2000, Mears had never set foot in a stock car. That changed when he accepted Jesel’s offer and began his career in NASCAR.
“My parents and family were very supportive of my decision to move from the CART Series to NASCAR,” Mears said at the time of the move. “My parents only want what’s best for me, and right now the best scenario for me lies within the Busch Series.†
“NASCAR is currently viewed as the highest and most popular form of motorsports in North America and that’s where I want to be. Every driver wants to compete at the highest-level possible and the Busch Series will help me to get there.”
Mears competed for Busch Series rookie of the year honors during the 2002 season and some considered Mears to be a rookie in stock cars altogether, having spent relatively little time in the full-fendered cars.