Thomas E. Sneva was born June 1, 1948 in Spokane, Washington, and worked as a school principal before becoming a racing driver.
Sneva won the 1983 Indianapolis 500. Nicknamed "The Gasman," Sneva won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 three times (1977, 1978, 1984).
On May 14, 1977, Sneva became the first driver to qualify at the Indianapolis 500 over 200 mph. His one lap track record was 200.535 mph.
On May 12, 1984, Sneva became the first driver to qualify at Indianapolis 500 over 210 mph. His one and four lap track records were 210.689 mph and 210.029 mph.
Sneva's career at the Indianapolis 500 was known for fast qualifying, second place finishes, and several crashes. Three times (1977, 1978, 1980) Sneva finished second, before finally winning in 1983.
He suffered one of the most famous crashes at Indianapolis during the 1975 race. After touching wheels with Eldon Rasmussen, Sneva flipped up into the catch fence and tore his car in half. Sneva would walk away with only minor burns. In 1986, Sneva was warming up his car during the pace lap, but lost control and crashed before the race started. In 1987, Sneva crashed three cars, two in practice, and one during the race. He would ultimately suffer crashes during the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1992. Sneva retired after the 1992 race with 13 Indy car wins and 14 pole positions.
His brother, driver Jerry Sneva, also competed at Indy.