Drag racing is drag racing. Whether it occurs on land or water, ice or mud, we’re all part of one big fraternity, and over the weekend, our fraternity lost one of its own.
Sand drag racer Steve Deleeuw from West Olive, Michigan was fatally injured on Saturday following a high speed crash while competing at the summer Thunder Mud Bog event at the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds in South, Bend, Ind. Deleeuw, 48, died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest following a rollover crash and subsequent impact at the conclusion of a run.
According to eyewitness reports, the rear tires of the blown alcohol-powered altered left the ground — possibly skimming over a mud puddle — making it difficult for Deleeuw to bring his machine to a stop. Deleeuw’s car rolled when he tried to turn to avoid striking the concrete barriers at the end of the track. Deleeuw was extricated from the car and pronounced dead on his way to a hospital. Deleeuw’s 15-year old son, Luke, was in South Bend helping his father with the car that evening.
(Editors Note: the below video of Steve’s final pass contains no footage of the crash)
Deleeuw was the co-owner and an irreplaceable part of his family business, Deleeuw Lumber, in Holland, Mich. He’s remembered as both a loving father and a mechanical wizard. Deleeuw was a longtime sand and mud racer and was involved in every facet of the car hobby, from Pinewood Derby cars for area youth up to his own high-powered racing venture.
Authorities have ruled out mechanical failure in the cause of the accident and have turned their attention to the race course to determine if any issues could have led to the crash.
Deleeuw, the youngest of 13 siblings, is survived by his wife Lori and sons Luke and Logan.