Kevin Harvick was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. So was his childhood hero.
Rick Ravon Mears, who actually was born in Wichita, Kansas, but grew up in Bakersfield, was one of the great IndyCar drivers in the long history of automobile racing.
Mears is one of only three drivers to win the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times – 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991. And he won IndyCar season-long championships in 1979, 1981 and 1982. He also holds the record for most pole positions at Indy, taking the No. 1 starting spot six times.
Harvick, who never competed in IndyCar, has said Mears was his hero growing up. And if you ask Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, they will tell you the same thing.
When Harvick won the 2003 Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was one of the biggest races he had ever won.
Harvick is hoping to score his second Brickyard 400 victory this week in the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Mobil 1 was actually a sponsor and technical partner of Team Penske for Mears’ 1991 Indianapolis 500 victory.
And Harvick is coming off a victory last month at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. As always, he’ll have the support of Mobil 1 technology on board as a sponsor and technical partner.
Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
Harvick is hoping he can lead Mobil 1 and Ford to another victory as this year’s NASCAR playoffs are set after Sunday’s final regular-season race at Indianapolis.
Then the real fun begins.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What do you consider your most memorable win?
“For me, I think winning the Daytona 500 is probably the one that sticks out the most. I think that’s our sport’s biggest race and it’s a difficult race to win. You see several of our great past champions and drivers who haven’t won that race, so I was fortunate to win that one. And, for me, winning at Indy was pretty neat, being a huge Rick Mears fan, and winning there was neat for me, and then winning the championship race in Homestead. Those would probably be my top three if I had to pick.”
Why do your prefer Mobil 1 synthetic?
“I’m a synthetic guy because, in 1993 when we were sitting in the engine shop, we dumped Mobil 1 synthetic in and that’s all we did and gained seven horsepower. From that day on, we would actually save our money and then go to the local auto parts store because, at that time, it was like $5.50 a quart and the conventional and other oils were like $3.50. At the big races, we would put the Mobil 1 in the car and the regular races would put the regular oil in there. You know I’m going to say synthetic.”
Talk about the history and prestige of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“For me, I grew up in Bakersfield, California, as a Rick Mears fan. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as a child, that was your racing dream. That was where you wanted to race. I’ve been fortunate to have won the Brickyard 400 and kind of live out that childhood dream. There is a mystique and history, and everything you can think about in racing that has happened for over 100 years has happened at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So, to go there and see those old grandstands that surround the frontstretch, and that feel that it has, is the same every time you drive in the tunnel. As we go back this weekend, for me, I always feel like it is one of the most special places that you can race, because that is all I wanted to do as a kid. I wanted to be like Rick Mears and win the Indianapolis 500. Now, racing stock cars and being able to compete on that racetrack for me is a thrill.”
What was it like to win the Brickyard 400?
“When we were fortunate enough to win the Brickyard 400 in 2003 – the coolest part of the whole thing was riding around on the victory lap. You can tell the experienced Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans who go to the Indianapolis 500, and I don’t even know if they still do this anymore, but riding around in that pace car and waving to the fans. There were thousands of them still there to share that moment with me, Richard (Childress) and DeLana (Harvick, wife) before coming back to kiss the bricks. That’s something you’ll never forget.”