Jimmy Snyder gained recognition as one of the nation’s best drivers during the 1930s, when economic conditions caused a sharp curtailment in the number of championship races in the American Automobile Association schedule. After winning consistently in sprint car races on half-mile tracks in the Midwest, he drove in five consecutive Indianapolis 500 races. Snyder was the fastest qualifier in 1937 with an average four-lap speed of 125.287 miles per hour after topping the first official 130 mile per hour lap on one memorable run.
In 1939, he became the first Indianapolis driver to earn the pole at more than 130 miles per hour, averaging 130.138. Snyder finished second that year and was also runner-up to Wilbur Shaw for the National Driving title although it was awarded posthumously because he died in a midget car accident in East St. Louis, Illinois, in June 1939. He led the Indianapolis 500 for a total of 181 laps in three straight races in 1937, 1938, and 1939.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum