Inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Born in Grand Rapids, MI in 1953, Bruce was the son of Gordy VanderLaan, an inducted member of the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
Starting in street stocks, Bruce soon moved up to the Sportsman division at Berlin Raceway in 1979. The following year Bruce was hired by Harley Boeve at Port City Racing to drive his house car for him that Butch Miller had been driving. The first year, Vanderlaan won fourteen features for Port City. When Harley decided not to run a house car the following season, Bruce received a phone call from Bill McGowen. How well did they do together? In a five-year period they had forty-four feature wins, forty-five second place finishes, a top three finishing position of 40% and a top five finishing position of 75%. They won the 1983, 1985, 1986 Late Model championship at Berlin Raceway. In 1988 they tied with Freddy Campbell for the Berlin Raceway Late Model championship.
After an under funded attempt at ASA racing, Bruce returned to Port City Racing with Harley and ran the Iceman series. After a couple of years of winning the Iceman series championship, Sonny Adams renamed the series the VanderLaan 500 and then the VanderLaan 700. Bruce's most memorable race was an ARTGO race at Berlin Raceway. Bruce was leading with Freddy Campbell and Butch Miller on his tail. They were attempting inside and outside passes lap after lap. Bruce finally knocked his rear view mirror to the side so he couldn't see them anymore. Oh yes, he won that race.
Bruce made this statement about his career. "I liked the competition. It was a rush. In cards, you put your cards on the table. In racing you put your car on the track. You've got to see how good you are. If you've got no chance of winning, what the hell are you doing out there? I had fun. Things could have been different, but I've got nothing to kick about. I won some races and some championships. I got respect from the people I raced against. I always drove a clean race. I'm satisfied."
Bruce passed away on September 9, 2019.