Two of the Inland Empire’s biggest motorsports stars, Tom Sneva and Chad Little, can trace their roots back to their famous fathers.
Edsol Sneva, a greater Spokane auto racing pioneer, raised an Indianapolis 500 champion in son, Tom. Another son, Blaine, blazed his own trail including numerous Northwest Modified Series accomplishments.
Chuck Little was a successful racer and moved to an ownership role, and his son Chad shot to NASCAR stardom, including a Daytona 300 victory in what is now the Nationwide Series. Chuck’s son Jason is a successful car owner on the NASCAR Whelen All-American and K&N Pro Series where his driver is Chad’s son, Jesse, who one year ago became the youngest driver to start a NASCAR top-tier race at 15 years of age.
Last weekend Jesse Little competed at Iowa Speedway with the K&N series and moved the facility’s director of communications to fondly recall the racing careers of all three generations.
“It’s really special for me to have the third-generation Little racing,” said Craig Armstrong, who served as general manager of Portland Speedway for many years before migrating to Iowa. “I am old enough to remember when Chuck raced and he was a real shoe. Chad’s career was outstanding as well and now to see Jesse racing is very cool.”
Many of the drivers racing in our area owe much to their fathers. From the Garbers to the Behars, Havens, Tarrs and more, many fathers who set the standard in regional auto racing now watch as their children carry on the family tradition.
Like the Littles, a family that Garber patriarch Bruce raced against for many years, three generations now lay claim to racing. Bruce’s son, Dan, has his son, Colton (a multitime race winner on the ICAR series), and youngster, Brandon (a rookie in Stateline Speedway’s Bandolero division), racing.
And it’s not just boys.
Nicole Behar carries on in the footsteps of her father, Mike, a past INSSA champion. The Otis Orchards hotshoe is quickly establishing herself in Late Model racing with two HyDrive Late Model victories this season, the first pole award (with a record-lap time) handed out at the newly revamped Hermiston Super Oval and two top-10 finishes in her first two Super Late Model starts.
The Havens family started out at Sunset Speedway as a father-son entry to the go-kart ranks. Over the years Todd Havens has witnessed his son, Braeden, move from karting to ICAR to INSSA champion and just last year a top-three finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Rookie of the Year standings.
“I’ve been racing since I got started on dirt tracks back in the Midwest at a young age,” Havens said. “To me, the thrill these days is watching my sons race (Havens’ second son, Jess, competes in the Bandolero division against Brandon Garber and others) and I know someday I’ll be getting out of the (the No. 20 Late Model) car so I can sit back to see both of them racing at the same time.”
Havens’ offspring may be speeding that departure up as they provided a special Father’s Day memory one week ago. Nine-year old Jess broke through for his first main-event victory and Braeden qualified his Late Model second to Northwest legend and eventual race winner Garrett Evans.