Funny Car pioneer Vander Woude passes away
Funny Car pioneer Al Vander Woude, whose line of Flying Dutchman Funny Cars were a force on the match race scene in the late 1960s, died Saturday, Nov. 3. He was 67.
Vander Woude, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D., began his racing career in l957, with his first Dodge, which doubled as his street car. He continually updated the car but continued to race in the more "pure" stock classes until 1965. At that time, he helped pioneer the first "Funny Cars", then classified by the NHRA as A/FX, for Factory Experimental.
In 1966, Vander Woude became a full-time professional drag racer and his 1966 Dodge Dart was one of the first successful Funny Cars on the West Coast.
Unlike many of the factory-supported drag racers, Vander Woude was a complete independent since his drag racing career began. All of his cars were of his own design and for the most part, he has personally constructed or supervised the construction of his cars from the wheels up.
Vander Woude's mechanical know-how was a combination of inherent ability and practical experience. Upon graduation from high school, he joined the Sea-Bees and for four years worked on a wide variety of mechanical equipment. Classified as a construction-mechanic, he not only bulldozed his way through the South Pacific, but maintained his equipment as well. Upon discharge, he moved to California where he had been a resident since that time.
Vander Woude's name had resurfaced recently on the quarter-mile as his son, Don, resurrected the "Flying Dutchman" name with a new nitro Funny Car effort with Jack Wyatt and Terry Haddock driving. The team plans to continue to run the car to keep the famous name alive.
Vander Woude's wake will be held, Nov. 8, from 6-8 p.m. at Amos Funeral Home in Shawnee, Kan. The funeral will be held at St. Joseph Church Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Don Vander Woude, (913) 642-6530
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