Sports Car Insider Five Questions: Melanie Snow

Photos by John Thawley
You meet Melanie Snow and you know you’re meeting one of the “good guys.” She’s charming, attractive, has an infectious smile and, given half a chance, she’ll kick your ass on any one of the finest sport car tracks in the country. Charming, attractive, infectious smile aside, Melanie knows how to win.

For 2009, Melanie and husband Martin Snow teamed up to compete in the inaugural season of the American Le Mans Challenge Class. They won in Utah. They won at Mid-Ohio. They won at Road America. In total, they dominated the season winning three out of five races. When the season ended at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Snow Racing was crowned the 2009 American Le Mans Series Challenge class champions. And as if that wasn’t enough, Melanie was crowned 2009 Rookie of the Year. Yep… Melanie knows how to win.

So, we thought, hey… how tough can she be? Let’s put her on the spot and make her Sports Car Insider’s first victim… err.. guest for Sports Car Insider Five Questions. And… since she’s charming, attractive, competitive and all that, we’ll throw her a curve and ask six questions. That’ll throw her off her game… right? Not.

SCI: OK… so Melanie, I’m guessing you’re the fastest soccer mom in all of Utah… if not the entire country. How is your 2009 ALMS Challenge Championship sitting with your kids? They must be incredibly proud.

MS: My kids are pretty excited. All four of them were awaiting our call from Laguna to tell them the outcome. My oldest kept texting throughout the day” how’s it going”, “what’s happening”. When we got home I had emails from friends and the kids teachers congratulating us, so they had spread the news pretty quickly. Three out of our four kids race karts so they know all the time, effort and commitment it takes to win.

I get the idea from your Facebook page you stay pretty busy. Hanging out with Smashmouth, boating at the lake… chauffeuring your kids… seriously, how do you find time to race and what do you do for down time?

Down time…I don’t know what that is. It is very rare to get any down time but that’s what keeps me going. I love being busy. I say that today because I have energy but there are days when I need a break and a long nap. I try to keep things really organized so everything stays smooth.

Now I know you love the podium… you go absolutely crazy when you win. But it’s pretty obvious, you love to drive and you love to win.  When and how did this all start for you?

It all started with club racing. I began racing with my grandfather. My father died when I was young so my grandpa became my father figure. I did everything he did so when he started racing I joined him. I was 19 years old when I started. A couple years later I meet my husband Martin at the track and that is when racing became our lives. The first few years of our marriage we spent at tracks throughout the country. Along came kids and things slowed down. Then a couple years ago we jumped back in with both feet and that is where we are today.

And yes, being on the podium for me is a high. I love being up there and just enjoying the moment. This year I was able to make it to the podium quite a bit. Not all years are like that so I just try to live it up when the opportunity is there.

It’s tough enough being in a relationship and sharing your life with someone… but sharing a race car… now that’s serious business. Who makes the calls? What if you think the car is loose and Martin thinks the car is tight? Do you just leave the set up where it is or does Martin get used to it being tight?Seriously… how do you sort that out?

Okay, I get it you had to throw one trick question in. I’ll start out by saying that Martin and I work really good together. Racing for us strengthens our marriage and is a bonding thing for us. Racing in the ALMS Challenge Class we drive Martin’s car and it is the same car he races in the IMSA Patron Series so I drive it with his set up. We do have totally different driving styles and if you compared our two cars they are set up pretty different. (not that there is a whole lot we can change due to the rules) That has actually been really good for me to adapt my driving to his car set up. I have to say I do give my two cents about what I think should be changed and he will try a few things but at the end of the day we leave the track together just happy that we have the opportunity to share the same passion in life.

What’s on the slate for 2010. Team Snow has become incredibly popular around the country and in the American Le Mans Series, are we going to see you on the grid next year? And, if so, are there any plans to move up… maybe to the LMP Challenge class? I bet you’d be awesome in a prototype.

Right now we are undecided for 2010. This last year was so very busy and we were away from our kids a lot. Our boys tell us to keep racing but the girls miss us when we are gone. So we are still kicking around our options and if we will be racing next year or not. If we do decide to commit to another year it would be in either the ALMS Challenge or the IMSA Patron Challenge or both again. We will decide in the next couple weeks. It is a really tough decision. We need to be home to raise our kids but racing is such a big part of our family that it would be a hard thing to give up.

Last question… (We call this segment Five Questions… but I’m asking six, cause that’s how we roll around here).. you have to have a passion for racing in order to do it as well as you do. Now, you’re a mom… so we’ll give you a waiver on the kids… we know they come first, but is there anything more motivating for you than being behind the wheel of the race car?

The passion in my life is my kids and doing all there activities…coaching soccer, room mom, taxi driver, party planner. I wear many hats. But I am really lucky to have a family that all share the same passion. That is what makes it possible to race at all. The kids love karting and also love watching their mom and dad race. We have the best fans living all under the same roof. It isn’t always easy but making it all work out is part of the challenge and that challenge is what feeds my passion.

Melanie, you’re an absolute joy to see and watch at the races and you certainly do the sport and the Series proud. I know your kids have to be in total awe of their mom. Cogratulations on your great season… hope to see you back in 2010. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

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