JANESVILLE, Wis. – Two-time Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n champion Owen Snyder Jr. died June 29 at the age of 88 at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville.
Snyder also raced for many years under the alias name Todd Barton.
Snyder made his Badger Midget debut in 1953, finishing 20th in points. Three years later he scored his first feature victory at Angell Park Speedway on July 8, 1956. He ultimately tallied 31 midget wins at the track, putting him seventh on the all-time list.
Snyder ran off three consecutive years (1960-62), as the Badger points runner-up before capturing his first Badger title in the 29-race 1963 season. He won three features and had eight second place feature finishes during the year driving for car owner Walter Whitehorse.
He fell nine points short of the 1965 Badger crown, finishing second to Keith Thomas.
Snyder’s final year of racing in 1972 netted Badger title number two. Driving the Tammy’s Offy owned by car owner Mike Cascio, the pair won four features, including three at Angell Park, winning the title by a whopping 264-point margin.
Snyder won 49 Badger Midget feature events at nine different tracks, and he also won midget and sprint car events with several other racing series, as well as open competition events. Like many drivers during his era, less-than-ideal race record management by series and tracks have prevented a complete chronicle of his racing career.
Snyder was employed at the General Motors/Chevrolet Assembly facility in Janesville for 48 years. Moving up the corporate chain in management, Snyder began racing under the name of Todd Barton from Vinton, Iowa from the mid-1960s until his retirement, “to make things easier at his regular employment.”
He also worked with several IndyCar teams headed by his son Owen III. He was a member of two Indianapolis 500-winning teams, claiming The Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 1992 at Galles Racing with Al Unser Jr. and winning again six years later with Team Cheever and Eddie Cheever Jr. Both times he was the sign board man for the race.
In addition, Snyder also worked several seasons with Dreyer Reinbold Racing.
He was a 50-plus year member of the Janesville Masonic Western Star Lodge No. 55, as well as a member of the Zor Shrine – Madison. He was an avid hunter and long-time skier.
Owen Jr. is survived by his children, Owen III (Linda), Dana (Steve) Kinser, Todd (Elizabeth), and Joel (Shannon); his grandchildren, Stevie, Kraig, Christy, Steffi, Kurt, Caroline, Noah, Nathanael, and Sophia; his great grandchildren, Kash, Hailee, and Andrew; his first wife, Helen Whitehorse; and his sister, Julia (Richard) Meredith.
He was preceded in death by his second wife, Phyllis (Bleisch) Snyder; his brother, Edwin (Ed) Snyder; and his nephew, Marshall Erdman.