Track announcer Chris Clark said he always had to bring his tool box to victory lane to pry a comment from Joe Shear after he won a race. Many said he was soft spoken and left his talking on the track. Since his passing on March 9, 1998, many today still have a clear memory this legendary driver.
To honor this legend, the American Speed Association Kwik Trip Midwest Tour presented by ECHO Outdoor Power Equipment will be hosting the "Joe Shear Classic" this Sunday, May 3rd at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, WI. The special 136-lap event will have a break at lap 100 to create a special 36-lap dash to the finish in honor of Shear.
Back in the 1970's and 1980's, the track was well known as Capital Super Speedway and Shear was a regular weekly competitor. He collected 66 feature wins in his career at Wisconsin's Fastest Half-Mile Oval. He was the track champion in 1973, 1974, 80, and 1982. It was in 1982 that he won seven feature races in a row. That streak was stopped by his long-time rival and friend Dick Trickle.
Shear was one of the famous "Stars and Cars" of the ARTGO Series. He was a two-time champion (1986&1989) where would collect 58 wins in 360 starts (a 16.1% winning percentage); collect 225 top-five's and 290 top-ten finishes. He was the fast qualifier in 28 of those events. In the 23 years he competed in the ARTGO Series, he would finish in the top-five in points a total of 18 times. Many of those wins came while he drove for famous car owner Fred Nielsen.
"Joe Shear was a very important star in the ARTGO Challenge Series from our first race in 1975 until our last race in 1997," John McKarns, ARTGO Promoter stated. "Joe had a large and loyal following; who can ever forget his last win which came in the 1997 National Short Track Championship 300 at Rockford, he started 18th and ended up in victory lane with all the front end body work missing!"
It's easy to say that if Joe had a home track, it was Rockford Speedway. In fact, his father Al Shear paved the way for him as he was the track champion in 1951, 1954, and 1962. Joe was a six-time champion at Rockford and they came six years in a row from 1967 to 1972. He is also an eight-time National Short Track Champion (1972, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1997). His last championship on September 21, 1997 would be his last feature win.
He won the Red, White and Blue Championship at Wisconsin International Raceway in 1979, 1987 and 1989. He is a four-time champion of the Slinger Nationals (1987, 1990, 1991, and 1993) and won the Wisconsin Short Track Series championship in 1994.
He also competed in several American Speed Association events. He did collect one win on May 9, 1993 at The Milwaukee Mile driving for Nielsen. He held off Johnny Benson and Bob Senneker for the win. Nielsen still has that car and will be on display this Sunday.
The last event he competed in was Oktoberfest Race Weekend at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, WI. Joe was a five-time champion of the event. He won his first in 1972, 1989, 1994, 1995, and 1996. He is the only driver to have won it three times in a row and was on his way to his sixth in 1997, until he developed engine problems and finished fourth.
He raced with the best of the best in the sport and some still remember him to this day. Here are what a few had to say about Joe Shear...
"Joe was a master fabricator. Absolutely master of it. His cars were always beautiful and he was a tough one to beat. Joe was a really good guy. A good friend. I enjoyed racing with him." - Mark Martin, Four-Time ASA Champion, Five-Time IROC Champion
"The thing that always stood out to me about Joe Shear when I was racing with him way back in the ASA days was that every time I showed up I never saw a car that was better-prepared and better-looking than Joe Shear's car. I really think that he set the standard for the American Speed Association on how cars should be prepared and how they should look. His workmanship was always beautiful. He was always quiet, but boy he had a big right foot. That guy could flat-out drive. He was an incredible race car driver and he was always helping me. Any time I had a question he was always willing to help me with anything I wanted. I really think he helped me win my championship that I won in 1983. I think it's very appropriate that they're doing an event for him. He was one of the guys who helped build the series." - Rusty Wallace, ESPN Analyst, Former NASCAR Cup Champion & ASA Champion
"Joe Shear was a shy man with a quiet demeanor that didn't match his driving style because he raced really hard. Joe was the ultimate man - a polite guy, clean driver and great racer. Joe's red, white and blue car attracted me to him early in my career. But it wasn't for the good-looking car but for the No. 36, which was also my number. The Milwaukee Mile gave me a plaque for my 400th NASCAR Nationwide Series start with a photo of Joe and me bumper-to-bumper on it. For once in my life, I outran Joe that day at Milwaukee and I'll never forget it. I think I finished fourth or fifth with Joe right behind me after running bumper-to-bumper all day long. When we got out of our cars, he said, 'I never got so tired of seeing the back of your car.' But it was a very rare occasion that I could beat Joe. He was a hell of a person and race car driver." - Kenny Wallace, Speed TV and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver.
"Joe was a great fabricator, a hard and fair racer. I learned a lot from him in my early years about cars as well as the right and wrong things to do on the track. He was a great mentor." - Matt Kenseth, 2009 Daytona 500 Champion, 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, 2004 IROC Champion.
"Although I didn't know Joe as a personal friend, I knew him as a special friend of mine in racing. He was a quiet man and did his talking on the track in that beautiful #36. I have a great respect for someone so great and yet so humble. His pursuit of excellence is something I'll always remember, he was a "racers racer" and in the racing world that's one of the best compliments you can get. God Bless Joe Shear and his entire family." - Darrell Waltrip, Fox Sports and Three-Time NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
Qualifying will begin at 2 p.m. with racing at 4 p.m. The fan gates will open at Noon. The first 1,000 fans will receive a special Joe Shear autograph card.
The BRP Big 8 Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet will also be competing in the Joe Shear 38 that afternoon as well.
Ticket prices are $17 for adults ages 12 and up, ages 11 and under are FREE.
For more information on MIS, please visit their site at www.madisoninternationalspeedway.com.
To learn more about the American Speed Association Kwik Trip Midwest Tour presented by Echo Outdoor Power Equipment log on to www.asamidwesttour.com or call the ASA Midwest Tour office at (262) 514-3880 or e-mail Tim Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Einhaus at email@example.com.
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