Joe Shear

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Joe Shear
JoeShear ArtgoWin.jpg
Born (1943-05-08)May 8, 1943
Died March 6, 1998(1998-03-06) (aged 54)
ARTGO Challenge Series
Years active 1975–1997
Starts 330+
Wins 51
Best finish 1st in 1986, 1989
Previous series
1975—1997 ASA National Tour
Championship titles
1986, 1989 ARTGO Challenge Series

Joe Shear (May 8, 1943 – March 6, 1998) was an American stock car racing driver from Clinton, Wisconsin. He won an estimated 350 races in his career, including four of his last five races.[1] Fred Nielsen, Shear's car owner from 1975 to 1984 and 1986 to 1994, said that his team won 250 races and he estimates that Shear won 600 races.[1] He won at least 30 track or touring series championships in his career.[1] Even though he was known as a pavement driver, two of those championships were on the dirt at Freeport, Illinois.[1]

Racing career[edit]

Shear began racing karts as a youth.[1] While he was still under age, he would sneak in the pits to work on his father Al Shear's racecar at Rockford Speedway.[1] His father won the track's championship in 1951, 1962, and 1965.[1] Joe Shear was named the track's Outstanding Mechanic for 1962.[1]

Joe Shear began racing at Rockford in 1964 and he won the track's Rookie of the Year award.[1] He had his first win at the track on his birthday May 8, 1965.[1] In 1972, Shear was awarded his sixth straight Rockford track championship.[1] That year he won the first of his eight National Short Track Championship events at the track.[2]

Shear finished second behind Dick Trickle with 58 ARTGO wins and he won the championship of the Midwestern touring series in 1986 and 1989.[1] In 1979, 1987, and 1989 he won the Red, White, and Blue State championship races at Wisconsin International Raceway.[1] During the Daytona Speedweeks, he won the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in 1988 and 1988, and in 1990 he won the Volusia County Speedway championship.[1] The four-time winner at the Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway (1987, 1990, 1991, 1993)[3] also won the 1994 Wisconsin Short Track Series title in 1994.[1]

Shear won six ARTGO events in 1996 plus five out of six special events at Wisconsin International Raceway.[1] He could feel cancer returning in May 1996, but he decided to continue racing.[1] On February 1997 he had surgery to remove his lymph nodes and muscles on his neck.[1] He was unable to prepare his car for the upcoming season and he received five weeks of radiation.[1]

With his health failing, he won four of the last five races in his career.[1] His final victory was winning the 1997 National Short Track Championship race at Rockford.[1] He was recorded laps 0.2 seconds faster than the rest of the cars at the Saturday qualifying race for his final event at the Oktoberfest race at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway until his motor blew up.[1] Shear borrowed another driver's car which had already qualified for the Sunday finale and raced from the last place up to fourth place.[4] He had won the event five times, mainly later in his career.[5]


Shear was known for being very quiet. His wife Connie said, "There were times, especially early in his career, when he would not talk to a soul. He would go to the track, unload the car, set a track record, win the feature, and leave."[1]


Shear discovered he had cancer three years before he died.[1] He died on March 6, 1998.

Family in racing[edit]

  • Joe Shear, Jr. (son) – JR Motorsports crew chief in the Camping World Truck Series. Has been Chassis and Shock specialist involved with Sprint Cup Series and late model teams.
  • Steve Strasburg (stepson) – crew chief, chassis & shock specialist involved with late model teams and owner of
  • Troy Shear (brother) – car owner, chassis builder and member of the technical committee for Mid-American Racing series.
  • Troy Shear, Jr. (Troy's son) – driver in the Mid-American Racing series.
  • Kyle Shear (Troy's son) – driver in the Mid-American Racing series and Big8 Late Model series.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Grubba, Dale (2000). The Golden Age of Wisconsin Auto Racing. Badger Books Inc. pp. 204–210. ISBN 1-878569-67-8. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  2. ^ Kalwasinski, Stan. "Tradition Is The Keyword For Rockford’s Annual Biggie". National Speed Sport News. Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  3. ^ Kallmann, Dave (2006-07-17). "Slinger Nationals a really big deal for Trickle, Kenseth". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  4. ^ Shear-Carlson, Kari. "Frozen Butts and Mini-Donuts: Just Another Reason Fest Is Best". Retrieved October 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ Panure, Matt (2007-10-05). "In Elite Company: Oktoberfest Winner Will Join a Legendary List". ASA Midwest Tour. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dick Trickle
ARTGO Challenge Series Champion
Succeeded by
Dick Trickle
Preceded by
Butch Miller
ARTGO Challenge Series Champion
Succeeded by
Steve Carlson