The fourth annual Edsol Sneva Memorial Race will have an added meaning this year for Blaine Sneva, son of Edsol and the youngest of five brothers.
In January, Blaine’s brother Jerry died after a lifetime of racing and building cars with his family.
“We obviously all loved Jerry and I found myself getting along with him the easiest (out of my four brothers),” Blaine said.
Babe, another Sneva brother, died in 1976, 18 months after a crash in Canada. While the event, which takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Stateline Speedway, is named after their father, it truly is considered the Sneva family memorial race.
“It makes me want to win that much more,” Blaine said.
Blaine is the last brother to race in the event and he won the first two years, narrowly missing out on a third title last year before a collision with the first-place car caused his front axle to break. It was frustrating for the 61-year-old racer, but Sneva said getting knocked out early last year added to his already burning competitive drive.
Rumors have been swirling that Sneva will finish out this season before he calls it a career, but don’t tell him that. He isn’t even the eldest racer at the event, an honor belonging to 82-year-old Ralph Monhay.
While the retirement rumblings are outside of Sneva’s control, winning is within his control.
“The competition keeps me going,” Blaine said. “As long as I am having fun and I am competitive. As long as that happens, I’ll keep racing.”
“When you’re a racer, you’re a racer, that is just what you do,” he said. “It is my hobby and I have a lot of fun doing my hobby. We work on (the car) all winter, take it all apart and put it back together. Keep doing it until you’re satisfied with it.”
He hopes to see the memorial race continue long past his time to keep the Sneva name alive in Spokane. Family friend Al Martin, who has worked with Sneva racing, wants to see the event continue to grandstand the Snevas’ accomplishments.
“A lot of family tradition and a history of father-son relationships and it turned out to be something phenomenal for a kid from Spokane,” Martin said.
He’s referring to Tom Sneva, the oldest of the five brothers. Tom won the Indianapolis 500 in 1983 and became the first driver to break 200 and 210 miles per hour at the race.
The family is unsure if Tom will be at the race as he lives a busy life in retirement in Arizona. Other brother Jan, sister Robyn and a large contingency of Snevas will be in attendance to watch brother/uncle/grandpa Blaine.
As the memories of Edsol, Babe and Jerry fill the speedway, Blaine will hope his vintage modified car will pass the checkered flag in first place for the third time in four years.
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