In a career spanning five decades, Dale Pulde drove more than 70 different nitro Funny Cars in NHRA and IHRA tour events, in match races and in the Hot Rod Heritage Series. Considered by many one of the greatest natural driving talents in history, he also was a capable tuner whose cars were known for their reliability and good looks as well as their performance.
In this episode of Legends, the Series, season four, Pulde talks about lessons learned from the late Mickey Thompson, about the death of close friend and mentor Joe Pisano on the day Pulde was to begin driving for him, on “valley fever,” the disease that almost killed him, and on his legacy.
Perhaps the best gauge of Pulde’s success in the old IHRA series is not that he won a record 20 races and three championships (1977, 1982 and 1985) but that he won them against Raymond Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, Mark Oswald, Billy Meyer and Ed McCulloch.
On the NHRA side, he went to the final round of the 1972 Winternationals at the tender age of 21 driving the Steve Montrelli-tuned, 429 Shotgun-powered M/T Ford Pinto, won his first national event in 1978 at Gainesville and won his last at Dallas in 1996 while subbing in the “Smokin’ Joe’s” Ford Mustang for an injured Whit Bazemore.
Most of all, though, Pulde is associated with the “War Eagle” name he and partner Mike Hamby applied to the series of Pontiac, Buick and Dodge Funny Cars they campaigned in the 1970s and 1980s.
So, sit back, buckle up and enjoy a ride that began in quarter midgets and ended in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.