1977 Indianapolis 500 top rookie Jerry Sneva dead at 69

Jerry Sneva won Rookie of the Year honors at the 1977 Indianapolis 500. (Photo: IndyCar)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jerry Sneva, the 1977 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, has died. He was 69.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Monday that Sneva died Saturday in Indianapolis.

Sneva was the younger brother of 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva. He made five career 500 starts, and his highest finish was 10th his rookie year. His best start was fifth in 1980. Sneva was a regular at Indianapolis neighborhood hangouts, in the IMS Museum and gift shops. Every December, he'd stop by to drop off wooden Christmas ornaments he had carved and painted to IMS staff members.

Sneva is survived by his wife, Kathy, and children TJ and Shelby. Funeral arrangements were pending.

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