Auto Racing Inductees
A Spokane native and Lewis & Clark high and Eastern Washington University grad, in 1977 Tom Sneva became the first driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 at a speed of more than 200 mph, turning a one-lap record of 200.535 mph. And, in 1984 he became the first drive to qualify for the Indy 500 over 210 mph.
Three times (1977, 1978, 1980) Sneva ended up the bridesmaid by finishing second but after a thrilling late race duel with Al Unser, Sr. he broke through in dramatic fashion to win the Indy 500 in 1983 in his Texaco Star March 83C/Cosworth for Bignotti-Cotter Racing. That led to his nickname of “The Gas Man.”
Sneva’s second-place finish in 1980 is notable as it is one of only two occasions of such a finish by a driver starting last. Tom showed his versatility by competing in eight NASCAR Winston Cup events in his career from 1977-1987 and he also won two consecutive USAC National Championships for Indy cars in 1977 and 1978.
Tom Sneva was named to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005.