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Alan Kulwicki – A Legendary Story

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

September 28th, 2023

To commemorate HPR’s second season in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, we wanted to do something to help shine a light on Alan Kulwicki’s life. So here are a few highlights to help spark your interest. Also look for this hero card at the Fall Classic and in the upcoming HPR Snowball Derby 2023 Support Kits.

Alan Kulwicki led an amazing life. Sure, he was a racecar driver. And of course he had success before his untimely death at the age of 38. But the most incredible part of the story was his unwavering determination to succeed by his own merits.

These days you’ll hear about the young drivers that are just able to show up and race. They have a team that builds the cars, sets them up before each race, and plenty of connections to bring sponsors along for the ride.

Alan Kulwicki did it all himself. He graduated from the  University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor's degree in engineering. Due to this mechanical inclination, he looked at racing differently than most racers. A highly detail-oriented individual, Alan took a scientific angle that led him to a perfectionist style and truly unique approach.

One example is how he re-engineered a late model (earlier in his career) to have more torsional stiffness than what was previously available. He later won the championships at Wisconsin International Raceway in both 1978 and 1979.

In his NASCAR career, Alan became a one-man operation when the previous owner sold him his race team. Alan was the driver, administrator, crew chief and mechanic! In 1992 he won the NASCAR Season Championship. For the next 20 years he was the only owner-driver to do so.

Polish Victory Lap

You may have wondered about the Polish Victory Lap. It came from Alan. Right after his first NASCAR victory at Phoenix International Raceway, Alan turned his car around and made what he called a "Polish Victory Lap" by driving the opposite way on the track.

It's been a long road and it's taken a lot of hard work to get here, but this has made it all worthwhile. When you work for something so hard for so long, you wonder if it's going to be worth all of the anticipation. Believe me, it certainly was. And what do you think of my Polish victory lap? There will never be another first win and you know, everybody sprays champagne or stands up on the car. I wanted to do something different for the fans.
- Kulwicki victory lane quote in Grand National Scene magazine

Regardless of the outcome of this season, HPR is grateful to have been involved with the KDDP. There's so much to learn from the program and it's staff. We hope you take the time to read more about Alan and hopefully gain from the experience as we have.

View the Kulwicki Driver Development Program Website for more information.

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