Family Remembers West Michigan Native Killed At California Raceway

Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-17 22:49:18-04

GREENVILLE, Mich. — Jack Wondergem and his brother Dale caught the racing bug at an early age in West Michigan.

“It’s kinda like an adrenaline  to it or something,” Jack says. “The thrill.”

The brothers raced motorcycles together for years growing up.

“He was better on the flat tracks and I was better on TTs, where it’s rougher,” Jack says.

Half a century after he first hit the track, Dale was still working in racing – as a sprint car owner in California.

Jack tells FOX 17 that Dale moved to California in 1966 after serving in the Air Force. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1962.

On Saturday – the opening night for his car’s new season – Dale was one two spectators killed after a wreck at Marysville Raceway Park.

Jack says he last spoke with Dale a couple of months ago. He was already prepping then for the season’s first race and the rest of the year.

“Refreshing the motor on his car and making some changes here and there…getting ready for it to go,” Jack says. “That was the last I talked to him, was in January. It was gonna be today to see how he’d done last night, but that didn’t happen.”

Jack and Dale usually just saw each other a couple of times a year – including an annual racing rendezvous at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.

“Him and I always went, 20-some years straight,” Jack says. “Stay at the same place and sit in the same seats in the grandstands every year.”

“It was kind of our thing. We’d look forward to that for the whole year.”

Even though they won’t make that trip together this year, Jack takes comfort in knowing his brother died at a place he loved to be at.

“He was doing what he liked to do,” Jack says.

Dale Wondergem, 68, leaves behind a wife and two grown children.