By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires
A great man from the NASCAR West Series, current ARCA Menards West Series, passed away on September 18, 2023. This man was Robert “Wayne” Spears. He was the owner, with his wife Connie, of Spears Motorsports team in the West Series between 1987 and 2000.
Spears Motorsports was active between 1986 and 2007 in numerous NASCAR series. Spears Motorsports first competed in the Southwest Series from 1986, Craftsman Truck Series (1995-2007), and even the Cup Series (1987-1994).
Born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on November 5, 1934, he was surrounded by family and friends when he passed away September 18, 2023.
Wayne was an extraordinary man who touched many lives and accomplished several visions. His greatest passion was Spears Manufacturing Company, founded in 1969, which has become the largest single-source pipe and pipe fitting business in the United States. He also enjoyed fishing, flying, boating, NASCAR racing, quiet time at home with Connie and their dog Jenny, and spending time with friends at the Agua Dulce Airport. Wayne lived in the Agua Dulce, California area for 47 years, along with time in Florida and summers in Alaska.
Wayne is survived by his wife Constance “Connie” Spears; children Richard “Rick” Spears, Robert “Bob” Spears, James heyen, Tami Smith and Susan Heyen, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; sister Carolyn Crittendon and brother William “Bill” Spears.
His iconic blue and white cars bearing the No. 75 and sometimes the No. 76 were instantly recognizable in a racing field. After starting in the NASCAR Southwest Series in 1986 with driver Roman Calczynski, they decided to move up to the NASCAR Winston West Series in 1987. That year Calczynski obtained four top-10s including a ninth place in their very first race in the series at Sonoma Raceway and win the Rookie Of The Year title.
It was a good start for Spears Motorsports. In 1988 the team focused with Calczynski on the Southwest Series championship and together they won the team’s first title. In 1988, several drivers drove in the West Series for Spears Motorsports including Rusty Wallace, Bill Sedgwick and Tommy Kendall who gave the team its first top-five at Sonoma with a fourth position.
In 1989 Bill Sedgwick was a full-time driver and gave the team its’ first victories. The very first win came on April 30 in the opening race of the season in Madera, CA from pole position, the first pole for the team as well. At the end of the year Sedgwick was vice-champion and also won the ROTY title. Sedgwick finished runner-up again in 1990.
The next two years saw Spears Motorsports dominate the series with Bill Sedgwick in top form. They won the championship consecutively in 1991 and 1992. And in 1993 for the fifth consecutive year he finished on the final podium in the championship with a third position. It was also that year that future NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ron Hornaday, Jr. made his first race with Spears Motorsports.
In 1994 Hornaday, Jr. finished second in the championship with four victories before leaving the team to join NASCAR’s new national series in 1995, the Craftsman Truck Series. A series that Spears Motorsports would also join in 1995 with Bill Sedgwick behind the wheel. Despite two victories in the West Series during the first two races of the season with Sedgwick, the team prefered to concentrate on their Truck Series efforts for the remainder of the season.
1996 and 1997 were two transitional years for Spears Motorsports in the West Series. The team only participated in seven races with three different drivers. Among them was furture Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. The latter crushed his opponents in 1998 in the West Series with five victories, 11 top-fives and 12 top-10s in 14 races and offer a final championship to Wayne Spears. Together, they also participated in the entire Truck Series championship that year.
The team skipped the 1999 West Series championship and competed in their final race in the series in 2000 with their Truck Series driver Marty Houston. Together they close the adventure in the West Series in Mesa Marin. A race intended to provide seat time to Houston before the Truck Series race the next day. They obtained ninth position, exactly the same result as that obtained during the team’s very first race in 1987.
Spears Motorsports continued its activities in the NASCAR Truck Series until the end of the 2007 season before shutting down due to financial problems. But Wayne Spears did not stay away from auto racing. For years, and again today, Spears Manufacturing is the title sponsor of the SRL Southwest Tour, a Late Model series.
Wayne Spears was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2009.
The entire Kickin The Tires team extends its deepest condolences to all his family and friends.
|SPEARS MOTORSPORTS – ARCA MENARDS WEST SERIES STATISTICS|
|1989||Bill Sedgwick||10||3||8||8||4||ROTY – 2nd|
|1993||Ron Hornaday, Jr.||1||0||0||0||0|
|1994||Ron Horndaday, Jr.||11||4||7||9||4||2nd|