Dec. 14, 1954 - Apr. 1, 1993
Alan Kulwicki was born on 12/14/54 in Greenfield, Wisconsin. He grew up racing on dirt tracks and dreaming of making it to Nascar Winston Cup Racing one day. He graduated from ASA into NASCAR racing. Alan went south in 1985 to pursue his NASCAR dream when a dream was all he had. He had sold most of his belongings back home in Greenfield, Wis., and two days before he set out for Charlotte, an electrical short ignited a fire that burned up his truck and trailer -- and all the possessions he had retained. In 1986 Alan's dream came true, with only 2 cars, 2 engines, and 2 crew members he not only made it to Winston Cup, he went on to be that years Rookie of the Year.
Struggling on his first NASCAR tour that year, he was a source of amusement to the veterans. He was a mechanical engineer out of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee in a sport in which most of his competitors had made it only through high school. He was a small, quiet, polished, Polish-American Yankee walking through boisterous garage areas, wearing his driving uniform but carrying a briefcase. Alan was respected for his fierce wok ethic. Before the mechanical engineers of today, Ryan Newman & Matt Borland, we had Alan Kulwicki.
He drove for himself and often served as his own crew chief. Twice Junior Johnson tried to get Alan to drive for him but was turned down. NASCAR watchers said he'd never make it. He proved them wrong, winning 24 poles and five races. He won at Phoenix in '88 (where he first did his infamous Polish Victory lap), Rockingham in '90, Bristol in '91, and Pocono and Bristol in '92.. Alan came from 278 points behind in the final six races to win the '92 championship by 10 points, closest margin in NASCAR history.
Alan went into 1993 as the reining champion but on April 1,1993 Alan Kulwick was taken from us when he was in route from a Public Relations appearance in Knoxville, TN, to the next race in Bristol, TN. The plane that he and three others were riding went down near Bristol.
All four on board perished.
An emotional moment was Saturday morning at Bristol. It was a cloudy day. All drivers were trackside as the Alan Kulwicki Hooters Racing Hauler circled Bristol and received the checked flag from Harold Kinder for the last time.
On Sunday, Alan's friend Rusty Wallace won the race &
honored his buddy by doing the Polish Victory lap.
During the remainder of the 1993 race schedule, each driver winning a race in 1993 completed the "Polish Victory Lap" in honor of Alan Kulwicki.
The last race of the season, the race winner, Rusty Wallace, along with the Series Champion, Dale Earnhardt, completed one final "Polish Victory Lap" side by side. Rusty carried the #28 flag and Dale carried both the #7 and #28 flags to honor both drivers.
Below are some quotes by Alan & links to sites with a tribute or an article on Alan. Go visit. Longtime fans will read and remember. New race fans will learn about the man who will be the last independent racer to win a Cup championship.
"I hope that when 1993 is over, the people at Winston, the people at NASCAR, and the competitors will all look back and say, 'We were proud to have him represent us as our champion.'" From Alan's 1992 Championship Awards speech.
We are Alan, we are.
"It just whets your appetite to come back and do it again.
I have a motto: Work to become, not to acquire. I didn't work to win a million dollars,
I worked to become Winston Cup champion." Alan Kulwicki at the Winston Cup Banquet
“First you learn to drive fast. Next, you learn to drive fast in traffic.
Then, you learn to do it for 500 miles”. Alan Kulwicki
“In every aspect of life, have a game plan,
and then do your best to achieve it.” Alan Kulwicki.
“If you don’t believe you don’t belong”. Alan Kulwicki
Alan had a car that was almost as infamous as he was, the Underbird, which is sorta what Alan Kulwicki was the year he won the Winston Cup Championship. He was under funded, understaffed and under appreciated.
A few stats from the Underbird site:
THIS CAR RACED 30 TIMES
CAR WON 8 POLES
ONLY 5 TIMES DID IT FAIL TO QUALIFY IN THE TOP TEN
CAR WON 1 RACE,
FINISHED IN THE TOP 5 SEVEN TIMES AND IN THE TOP 10 FOURTEEN TIMES
WON THE WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
CAR EARNED $ 660,202 IN RACE PURSES
CAR ACCUMULATED A TOTAL OF 3,444 WINSTON CUP DRIVER POINTS
Check out the site below dedicated to:
Tom Roberts was very close to Alan Kulwicki. Roberts wrote a Kulwicki story in a local race paper during the early ASA days. From then on, Roberts was Kulwicki's publicist, friend & advisor.