Fun Fact: This Driver Has a Page on The Third Turn!
Joe Shear (May 8, 1943 – March 1998) was an American racecar driver from Clinton, Wisconsin. He won an estimated 350 races in his career, including four of his last five races. 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. He won at least 30 track or touring series championships in his career. Even though he was known as a pavement driver, two of those championships were on the dirt at Freeport, Illinois.
Shear began racing karts as a youth. While he was still under age, he would sneak in the pits to work on his father Al Shear's racecar at Rockford Speedway. His father won the track's championship in 1951, 1962, and 1965. Joe Shear was named the track's Outstanding Mechanic for 1962.
Joe Shear began racing at Rockford in 1964 and he won the track's Rookie of the Year award. He had his first win at the track on his birthday May 8, 1965. In 1972, Shear was awarded his sixth straight Rockford track championship. That year he won the first of his eight National Short Track Championship events at the track.
Shear won six ARTGO events in 1996 plus five out of six special events at Wisconsin International Raceway. He could feel cancer returning in May 1996, but he decided to continue racing. On February 1997 he had surgery to remove his lymph nodes and muscles on his neck. He was unable to prepare his car for the upcoming season and he received five weeks of radiation.
With his health failing, he won four of the last five races in his career. His final victory was winning the 1997 National Short Track Championship race at Rockford. He was recorded laps 0.2 seconds faster than the rest of the cars at his final event at the Oktoberfest race at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway until his motor blew up. He had won the event five times, mainly later in his career.
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."
Shear found out that he had cancer three years before he died. He went to the doctor in November 1997 and found out that cancer had returned. He died in March 1998.