Rick Mears, four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500® and three-time IndyCar Series champion, will be honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club at the “RRDC Evening with Rick Mears Presented by Firestone” in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, April 7. This will be the RRDC’s 12th banquet honoring auto racing’s most influential leaders and icons, and will be held prior to the 47th Annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
This dinner had been postponed twice, in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic, and is now back on schedule for 2022.
Previous RRDC honorees were Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, George Follmer, Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Rutherford and David Hobbs. These “RRDC Evenings” are acknowledged as one of the highlights of the auto-racing social calendar, drawing fans and luminaries from all forms of motorsports.
The Firestone brand will return as presenting sponsor of the RRDC banquet for the 11th year.
“Having Firestone support the RRDC Long Beach dinner for more than a decade is a true privilege,” said RRDC President Bobby Rahal. “Firestone has an unrivaled heritage in motorsports dating back to the first Indy 500® in 1911. We always welcome Firestone’s support, and salute the brand’s long-standing success and contributions to the sport.”
The dinner’s proceeds will help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking SAFEisFAST.com program and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997 and has been providing opportunities for talented young American race-car drivers since 1990. The Mark Donohue Foundation, a 501(C)(3) tax-exempt organization, was formed to further support the SAFEisFAST.com initiative. Information about the Foundation can be found on the RRDC’s website.
Few drivers have epitomized “The Penske Way” more than Mears during the course of his career with Team Penske, which began in 1978. His 29 IndyCar wins are tied with Helio Castroneves for the second most by a Team Penske driver, but it was the respectful yet determined way Mears raced and conducted himself that set him apart.
One of four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, Mears also won three IndyCar Series titles with the team in 1979, 1981 and 1982 while becoming an American icon. He remains a valuable member of the team as an advisor and spotter to the current Team Penske contingent competing in the NTT IndyCar Series.