Combustion Chamber-Part 1 of Dale Pulde Story


News Drag Strip Riot Drag Strip Girl Drag Strip Ringtones Nostalgia Schedule AA/FD 5 Sec. Club Links Contact image image
Dale Pulde Career Highlights 1955-1976

Dale Pulde’s racing career could be best described as a soap opera with a whole lot of comedy blended in. Pulde started out in Quarter Midget racing at the tender age of five, then found himself strapped into a Jr. Fueler at the age of 15, (despite the fact that he did not even carry a regular drivers license) the onto hopping in and out of a variety of roll cages during his 40+ years of driving. And like some of our own favorite soap opera heroes, his career is certainly far from over and still manages to keep us in suspense as to what his next venture will be. His loyal fans can’t seem to get enough of him, and just when they think he’s been written out of the script, another writer is hired and his story continues to unfold in another direction.

The following includes photos and Dale’s side of the story spanning his first twenty years of driving. Enjoy!



“At the age of five I started to race Quarter Midgets and by the time I turned eight I was a National Champion. A few more years went by and my hobby became too costly for my parents and they sold the car. When I was 15 I used to help my neighbor with his Jr. Fuel Dragster…mostly cleaning parts and learning about the engine. When he got drafted into the Army he let the all the guys that helped on the car try and drive it. I was much lighter and smaller than the others and the car ran its best ever. So until he actually left for the service, he allowed me to drive and then later I continued driving for his partner. While driving the Jr. Fuel Dragster I met different people from various teams. One was Charlie Wilson.”
“Charlie had a car called the “Vicious ‘Vette”…A 93 inch wheelbase Corvette with a BBC on Nitro. I was still in high school at the time, but after I graduated we finished a ’68 Camaro Funny Car with a flip top body and went on tour.” image




“I drove for Charlie until mid 1969. After that I drove Larry Fullerton’s “Trojan Horse” Mustang with a 392 Chrysler in it while Larry drove for Mickey Thompson. At the end of the summer I was contacted by Dee Keaton and asked to drive a Mustang Funny Car owned by Stone, Woods & Cooke.”
“Dee was the Crew Chief and partner with Tim Woods. We ran on the “Coke Cavalcade” Tour and did a lot of match racing. I learned a great deal from the knowledgeable Keaton. By the end of the season though I was hired to drive Dick Bourgeois’ Javelin. In 1971 I got a call from Mickey Thompson and ironically the two Crew Chiefs he hired for his two cars both requested me as the driver. One was Steve Montrelli and the other was Keaton. So for a while I was testing both cars and was hired to work on them as well. When we began the ’71 season Keaton quit and Montrelli became the main Crew Chief. We then took the titanium Pinto on the road with the Boss 429 Ford engine in it. After several fires, explosions and a couple of trashed bodies, Mickey finally let us put a Chrysler in it. image


That is when my racing career started to come around. What most people never realized is that when we had the cars after ’70, we did not have the big budget we had when the M/T cars won so many races. Mickey supplied all the parts in the beginning of the season. We ran the car on what it made and also split the cost of running it with Mickey, which in return meant splitting the profits, if any.”


“So if we had the chance to run a match race or national event, we went where the money was. More than likely we could be found at a match race or a paid-in event like the IHRA or the AHRA Grand American Events. In ’71 we were runner-up to Ed McCulloch at Indy, burning the car up in the final round. I’d also like to mention that the Pinto was a direct-drive car at the time and weighed just under 1,700 lbs. without the driver. Later that year we installed one of the first under drive transmissions. In ’72 we won the AHRA Winter Nationals out of a 32 car field. We then managed to runner-up at both the NHRA and IHRA Winter Nationals against McCulloch and Tharp, respectively. That season was a great experience and a lot of fun. Montrelli and I laughed and fought at the same time. We also raced a lot with Don Schumacher over the July 4th holiday week.
We raced nine different tracks in 14 days and loved every minute of it. At the end of the ’72 season, Steve ventured off with Schumacher, and Mickey, without ever asking me, hired Butch Maas to drive the new Pontiac Grand Am that Steve and I had put together. They ran the last drag race at Lions Drag Strip with it. Mickey later told me that he didn’t think I would want to race the car without Steve. Butch drove the car until burning it to the ground at the Gatornationals. Butch was seriously burned and Mickey called me back to ask if I would like to handle driving and tuning. In ’74 I built another Grand Am to race for Mickey. I laid the roof back, chopped the top, and had Bill Carter paint it black with some colored graphics. It looked real “racy” and the fans and racers loved it. NHRA Officials hated it and told me I had to change it but couldn’t tell me how or why. That season I was running pretty decent, then I think I invented “dropping cylinders”. I tried everything I could to solve the problem in a conventional manner, however nothing seem to work. I could still run good but the motor would be a “dead player” at the top end. During the Forth of July weekend that season I blew the blower off, lost the body and crashed the car. I rebuilt it in time for Indy with a new aluminum KB block. The late Don Madden of Howard Cams told me about the Chevy guys reversing the rotors in the blower to make the fuel drive in the other direction. I tried that and instead of dropping the two rear cylinders, I was down to dropping only one up front which was much easier to tune around. By the end of the year I had it running good again and NHRA was happy with the body. Strange! Same exact body, just a different paint scheme. At the World Finals at Ontario I set both ends of the National record and knocked the “Snake” out of the Championship title, handing the title over to Shirl Greer. I ran a couple more races in California that fall and then gave the car back to Mickey. That year was more than a season racing, it was a college education on what not to do.”
“By 1975 I was broke and in debt. I went back to work for my brother at his engine machine shop. I drove part time for Steve Montrelli and Joe Mundet with Joe’s “Eastern Raider”.  Right after helping build a new car and racing it a few times, Joe got married and went broke…or vice versa. Just before Indy, Larry Christopherson and Mike Hamby asked me to come help them and drive the “Arizona Wildcat”. I said, “Okay” and went down to Steve Plueger’s shop to help on the car. As I was working with Hamby I found I did not care for him too much.” image




“I later called Larry and told him I was backing out. That same evening Mike called me, we talked through our issues and became best of friends. We qualified the car at Indy, won the first round, and proceeded to campaign the car on the IHRA circuit, winding up with a runner-up effort at Rockingham. Then Larry and Mike quit! Mike told me he had a few things to get rid of and might be able to come up with some money along with the parts he had left from their car, and wanted to know if I could get some help and possibly team up together.”
“By the end of the ’75 season we had put a race team together with some pretty good pieces. At the start of the ’76 season I drove the “Chicago Patrol” funny car belonging to Chapman Automotive. It was going to be a full time deal, but after I moved everything I owned out there they pulled the plug on the whole program. I should have known better than to trust anyone that goofy enough to take out a late model 426 and put in a Donovan, especially when the KB’s were kickin’ butt at the time!”

Part 2 – Dale Pulde Feature



© M & H Photography -All text, photos, graphics, artwork and other contributed material within the Combustion Chamber  are copyrighted and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without express written consent. 

free counter statistics

Back to top