War Eagle Racing

2007 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame


HOF Induction by: Jon Asher

There are numerous members of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame who can trace their competitive days back to high school. But, how many can say they were driving a Funny Car between classes in American history and algebra? To our knowledge, Dale Pulde is the lone inductee who can make that claim.

While there have been a number of “firsts” associated with Pulde’s career, beyond records, beyond victories and beyond World Championships, one thing stands out: The respect with which he’s viewed by his fellow drivers. The media and fans can shout about the driving skills of their favorites from the highest hills, but such comments have a heck of a lot more validity coming from the people you’re racing against and defeating.

A Career Retrospective

As a mechanic with three decades of national event experience put it during one of Pulde’s recent outings, “Any other driver would have crashed this car by now, it’s so bad, but with Pulde at the wheel it goes right down the center of the groove every time.” When Pulde won the ‘88 Winternationals, an experienced driver watching said, “When I saw those two cars smokin’ the tires, there was no doubt in my mind about who would win.” Once again, Pulde’s decades of experience on some of the nation’s nastiest tracks (the Coca-Cola Cavalcade of Stars circuits come to mind here) helped him win by a ton.

Almost forgotten is that Pulde was one of the first “corporate” drivers when he wheeled the legendary Mickey Thompson’s Peter Paul Candies-backed Pinto in the early 70s. M/T wanted more than “just” a driver. He wanted someone who would be an excellent representative for the sponsor, and found the right guy in Pulde.

A decade later, Pulde’s bright personality and unmatched skills behind the wheel proved instrumental in convincing Miller Brewing to sign him to their first major sponsorship in drag racing. All the Pulde and partner Mike Hamby accomplished during their tenure with the Milwaukee brewer was to deliver the second and third of their three IHRA World.

Championships along with a third-place finish in NHRA. Pulde is still the winningest Funny Car driver in IHRA history, surpassing the records amassed by fellow Hall of Famers Raymond Beadle, Kenny Bernstein and four others.

How good is Pulde? Former NHRA F/C champion Gary Scelzi said, “I never would have gotten my license without Dale’s help. He’s awesome.” Need more? How about this from 14-time champ John Force: “Dale Pulde is one of the baddest guys to ever drive one of these cars. He knows everything about ‘em, and if there’s a problem, he’ll not only fix it, but then he’ll drive around you and win the darn race!” Force should know. Subbing for the off-track injured Whit Bazemore in ‘96, Pulde stormed to a victory in Dallas, the first for Bazemore’s team, this after Force had “warned” his own team how tough Pulde would be, and proved it by taking out the champ on the way to the winners circle.

During numerous telecasts of NHRA races, Hall of Famer, the late Steve Evans, regularly referred to Pulde as “the finest driver to ever sit behind the wheel of a Funny Car,” but the owner of that string of War Eagle entries is much more than a driver, tuner, or car “manager.” His uncanny memory for names and faces has made him a favorite of the fans, while his seldom self-censored remarks have also made him a media magnet. When you want to know what’s really going on in the pits, or why no one’s getting down that left lane, Dale Pulde’s the man to ask. He’s also the man to call when you just have to have the best behind the wheel of your car. Who else can claim back-to-back 4.70s within 10 minutes of one another -- in different cars? Now, if that had only happened during the national event competition.

2007 Drag Racing Hall of Fame Inductees

2007 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Inductees: (Top L to R) Bob McLennan, son of Jim McLennan, Dale Pulde, Denise Zeuschel, daughter of Dave Zeuschel, Don Schumacher, Darrell Zimmerman, Ted Jones, Frank Bradley. (Seated L to R) Dorothy McLennan, wife of Jim McLennan, Kenny Bernstein, Bill Bader Sr., Founders Award, Donnie Hampton, and Dave Uyehara.

War Eagle Racing
War Eagle Racing

Pulde and Harrell competing at Bristol International Raceway-1968

Dale Pulde's Tribute to Dick Harrell

Over the course of his 40+ years in drag racing, Dale Pulde has worked and raced with some incredible individuals. The late Dick Harrell is among those Dale admired and respected, and to this day he misses and speaks fondly of his time spent with the knowledgeable Harrell, or "Mr. Chevrolet".

In the early 2000s, Dale was able to help pay tribute to his mentor and fallen friend by helping spearhead a limited-edition Camaro with the help of Matt Murphy at GMMC. Every detail was overseen by Dale and girlfriend Valerie Harrell, and within a couple of years the project car was completed. Sporting a 427 c.i. LS6 which produces over 650 h.p. and complemented by an array of superior advances in suspension and drive train components, there's no doubt that "Mr. Chevrolet" himself wouldn't be more proud.