Not since Scott Dixon in 2008 has there been a first-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Owner/driver Ed Carpenter, rookie Carlos Muñoz and Marco Andretti make up the surprising front row for Sunday’s race with only four IndyCar series wins between them.
30 years ago this May Tom Sneva came to Indianapolis with considerably more success behind him. Already an eight-time race winner and champion in 1977 and ’78, ‘The Gas Man’ was always blisteringly fast. He started from pole at Indy in both of his championship years, becoming the first man to qualify at a speed exceeding 200mph in ’77. In both races he finished second, to AJ Foyt and Al Unser respectively. In 1980 he became the only driver to lead after starting last, but again he finished second, this time to Johnny Rutherford.
By 1983 Sneva was already one of the era’s greats, but he still didn’t have his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. The video below shows how he beat Teo Fabi and Al Unsers Sr and Jr to the win that had eluded him for nine years.