Family, Friends and Competitors Gather to Celebrate the Life of Bob Snodgrass
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (May 2, 2007) -- In a tribute befitting of his numerous contributions to motorsports, the City of Jacksonville and the automotive retail industry, nearly 1,800 family members, friends and competitors gathered at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the life of Brumos Racing President and CEO and Grand-Am Vice Chairman Bob Snodgrass, who died last week at the age of 64.
After an invocation by Richard Anderson of Motorsports Ministries, the program was conducted by Brumos Motor Cars Chairman Dan Davis. Over a dozen speakers paid tribute to Snodgrass, and the program also featured a compilation of videos provided by Chet Burks Productions and narrated by SPEED Grand-Am host Leigh Diffey.
Susan de Padua Snodgrass, Bob Snodgrass' wife, and his two sons Harris Snodgrass and Robert F. "Trey" Snodgrass, III, were among many family members present, and both Harris and Trey spoke on behalf of the family.
"There were so many great things you could say about Bob Snodgrass," said Harris. "He was my father, mentor and best friend. Everything I know about life, I learned from him. I want to thank all of you for the support you have shown to me and my family, and his other family at Brumos. Thank you for coming."
Long-time Brumos Racing driver Hurley Haywood, as well as crew chief and Snodgrass' childhood friend Mike Colucci were joined by Brumos drivers JC France, Darren Law and David Donohue and the entire Brumos crew to pay their respects. Haywood quieted the crowd with his tribute.
"Bob and I knew each other for 34 years," Haywood said. "He was like my brother, and it is difficult to look at all of this and not have him there to turn to and ask his advice. Most of us remember Bob as a larger than life figure. There were always stories in the paper of how Brumos as an organization would do so much to help so many worthwhile and charitable causes. But one of the things that impressed me the most about Bob was what he would do to help out the individual guy. If he liked you and liked what you were trying to do, he would move a mountain to help you.
"Many of us in Grand-Am have been privileged to benefit from that over the years. I hope I am big enough to fill his shoes even a little bit to keep that passion and dedication moving, even in a small way. Bob, we miss you and we love you. Thank you for everything you have done for us."
Many in the racing community also turned out to pay their respects, including International Speedway Corporation CEO Jim France, Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson and Commissioner John Bishop among many others from Grand-Am, NASCAR President Mike Helton, and Daytona International Speedway Vice President of Operations Dick Hahne leading a large contingent from the Speedway.
Other luminaries from the world of motorsports in attendance included sports car racing greats Derek Bell and Chip Robinson, Indianapolis 500 winners Bobby Rahal and Eddie Cheever Jr., and Grand-Am drivers, team owners and personalities such as Alex Job, Steve and Martha Southard, Jim Matthews, Jack Baldwin, Brad Frisselle, Eric Lux and David Murry. Former Porsche Motorsport North America President Alwin Springer was also in attendance, as well as management representatives from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
"Since I came over to race here in 1980 with Bob Akin, I got to know Bob through Peter Gregg," Bell said. "We raced Porsche 935s, and then I replaced Peter at Le Mans and co-drove with Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood. He was an amazing guy. He was always chummy, he was always there. I raced against him for years. If you didn't race for him, you didn't get too close, but he was still a friend and always had good things to say."
"When I first came on the racing scene, he was always very friendly to me and we built up a good relationship," Rahal added. "When I got into the automobile business, he was quick to provide advice and information. He was just a good guy. I would have loved to have driven for Brumos, but it didn't work out."
"I've been in racing my whole life, and Bob's a big part of racing," said Cheever. "I never raced for him, but often against him."
Snodgrass was a significant figure in the City of Jacksonville, as evidenced by the fact that Mayor John Peyton and Sheriff John Rutherford were both present and spoke at the celebration. Later in the program Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Motor Unit officers presented Harris Snodgrass with an official JSO Motor Unit helmet and honorary badge. Former Jacksonville Jaguars superstar wide receiver Jimmy Smith was also on hand to pay his respects.
"What a great response to a great man," said Mayor Peyton, who was impressed by the huge turnout. "Jacksonville is only as good as its people, and Bob was one of the best of Jacksonville. We will all miss him terribly, but Jacksonville is a better place because of Bob Snodgrass."
"Bob was truly a great friend of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Rutherford contributed. "Just two months ago, we were privileged to have the honor of presenting Bob with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office 'Citizen of the Year Award.' He was one of our best supporters."
"Mr. Snodgrass was definitely like a father figure to me," added Smith. "I look around today and I see a lot of faces I haven't seen in awhile. Mr. Snodgrass had that power to bring people together. He would always love to tell me that I would be the first Jaguar to make it to the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Snodgrass is already in the Hall of Fame - the Hall of Fame of life."