A young boy was intrigued with motor sports and one evening he wanted to see what was going on in between those fences at Tazewell Speedway. The young boy decided to sneak into the place and was immediately attacked and bitten by the racing bug. After that initial bite he developed the full-blown disease that most know as dirt racing. Josh Sneed was that young man.
His uncle Mark Brooks, along with Mark’s father Kenneth, were already into racing but it was a straight line type of racing — drag racing. Josh spoke to them and said, “If you guys really love racing then you better go see what’s happening at Tazewell Speedway.”
He was one of the reasons that Mark and his dad soon got into the sport of dirt racing. Mark was a no-holds-barred type of driver who often would drive the machine to it’s limit and beyond.
Sneed was there along the way doing many of the things that kept the car ready for each Saturday night. This is where he got the basic knowledge of the dirt late model that he now pilots.
After seeing his fearless uncle crash hard several times while making his car go as fast as possible many would think that Sneed’s interest would have faded; however, that was not Josh Sneed at all. His love for the sport was absolute. He finally got into a race car of his own during the late 1990s. That car was a 1979 Impala that was donated to him by Rodney Fultz on the basis of Sneed putting it on the track. After several tries he was able to get the first win in that pure street car. The following week the track made him move up into the Modified Street class. After that first win in 2000 he was getting serious about his work and eventually moved into Knoxville to garner more business as an owner and excavator in Country Boy Excavating.
He ran his uncle Mark’s car on occasion during the 2004 season and won Tazewell Speedway Rookie of the Year. Years went by and then Sneed returned as a car owner in a 2002 Stinger with limited success until a barrel roll at the Taz destroyed that ride.
From there he purchased a 2011 Warrior powered by D.J.’s Performance Engines and finished in third place at the January 1, 2017 Hangover race at 411 Speedway. Sneed also took the car earlier this year to Boyd’s Speedway and finished 16 out of the 24 cars that stated the feature.
“We have went from barely making the feature to competing and now finishing third. It is a long way from entering 38 races last year and struggling,” said Sneed. “I found there are several tiers of cars that you have to learn to beat and when you get into the top five of the field it becomes hard.”
Sneed is currently sponsored by B-B Racing (Kenneth and Mark) and Country Boy Excavating. He also mentioned Travis Fultz, Ryan and Chase King, Mike Nuchols and Steve Hensley.
Sneed quickly added, “I couldn’t do this without Sue Ray. She does so much for me like keeping the uniform clean, helping with the food each week and does about everything on the car that I need help with. She just does so much.”
When asked what he sees in his racing five years down the road Sneed said, “I think five years down the road I will be racing in the Super Late Model class all around the area.”
Sneed is the son of Karen Bailey and stepson of the late Patrick Grady.
“Patrick did a lot for me as well,” he said. “He bought me the racing suit, gloves and helmet; I miss him but I feel he would be proud.”
Sneed will remain in the Sportsman Class for now running in several tracks around the East Tennessee area and will hold on to the hopes that one day a sponsor will see him running hard one night and help provide him the monetary means to build a Super Late Model engine and fulfill his life long dream.
Josh said this, “This is a hard thing to do but I’d rather be spending time in the shop working on my car than anything but I feel now that I have two jobs; my excavation work and keeping this car going week to week.”
Josh Sneed has the drive and work ethic to win some more races as a Sportsman driver but there is also little doubt that one day he will turn those wrenches and run some very quick laps in his very own Super Late Model.
Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or in Twitter @pitchadude.