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 Sietse “Dutch” ter Steege

Sietse “Dutch” ter Steege

Birth
Netherlands
Death 27 Jul 2012 (aged 76–77)
Oklahoma, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered
Memorial ID 94352540 · View Source
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Legendary local race car driver Dutch ter Stege dies

Dutch ter Steege, a legendary race car driver in Oklahoma known for a feisty, competitive spirit, died Friday from complications of a massive stroke he suffered July 19. He was 77.

By Scott Munn | Published: July 28, 2012

Born Sietse ter Steege in Valburg, Holland, the "Flying Dutchman" as he was known, raced dirt cars in Oklahoma since 1964. He logged more than 900 races and 7,000 laps alone at Taft Stadium and State Fair Speedway, once the main hubs of racing in Oklahoma City. Ter Steege also raced in Kansas and Texas in a distant era when "poor-boy racers" like Dutch could afford to travel on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Ter Steege won just one season championship, a modified title in 1986 at State Fair, but his status as a local icon was built behind a gritty never-give-up attitude that would frustrate some drivers and motivate others.

Although small in stature, ter Steege had no qualms about approaching a bigger man in the pits after an injustice on the racetrack. But he was also known as a racer who offered advice, tools or spare parts to fellow drivers trying to fix a crippled car before the big-money A feature.

"I remember at Taft, those guys (drivers) would beat the hell out of each other on Friday night, then they would all meet somewhere on Saturday and go fishin'," ter Steege told The Oklahoman in a 1998 interview. "But whenever something went wrong and I knew I was right, I'd argue with them until the morning."

Ter Steege immigrated to the U.S. at age 23 in 1958, more than a decade after he witnessed American and British bombers destroy German positions in his native Holland during World War II. Ter Steege's landing point in America was Oklahoma City, where he was sponsored by Scott Chevrolet on Broadway.

He lived in a garage apartment at the home of car dealer R.T. Scott and learned English by watching television. Ter Steege had raced motorcycles in Holland and even played for The Netherlands' national soccer team; his jersey No. 7 graced his race-car side panels for five decades.

He first tried car racing, in Oklahoma, at the recommendation of then-employer Jimmy Wilder, who told ter Steege "you've to the guts to do it." Ter Steege loved it. He would buy his own race car by the 1966 season for just $275.

A newfound passion to race cars on summer weekends cultivated many stories about Dutch that needed no embellishment to make them interesting.

One of the best had the Dutchman, a machinist by trade, defying danger and tongue lashing from an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman to repair an engine before race time on a Saturday night at Lawton Speedway. While the wife sped the pickup truck down Interstate 44 to Lawton, Dutch stood on an uncovered tow trailer, wrenches in hand, head under the race car's hood.

Ter Steege had a share of pit area scraps that led to arrests, "but one policeman spent his own money to bail him out of jail because he liked Dad so much," said daughter, Ingrid ter Steege.

Yukon resident Shane Carson, a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, remembered how "Dutch always bought a program from me back in the day when I was selling them. Dutch was a fan favorite … an inspiration to those that wanted to race but had never been around it. He will be missed."

A come and go memorial is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Wiley Post Event Center, SW 17 and Robinson.

Ingrid said Dutch, in one of his contrary moments, told the family that when he died, "he wanted his ashes poured on the racetrack so all of those drivers who always wanted to run over me finally had the chance."

With State Fair Speedway being closed after the 2009 season, Ingrid said, with a soft laugh, that "we're going to try and make arrangements where we can pour his ashes on Lawton Speedway so those guys can finally run over him."


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  • Created by: Okieologist
  • Added: 28 Jul 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 94352540
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sietse “Dutch” ter Steege (1935–27 Jul 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 94352540, ; Maintained by Okieologist (contributor 46948620) Cremated, Ashes scattered.