Race car driver, Deceased Person
1954 – 1993
Who was Alan Kulwicki?
Alan Dennis Kulwicki, nicknamed "Special K" and the "Polish Prince", was an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series racecar driver. He started racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before moving up to regional stock car touring series. Kulwicki arrived at NASCAR, the highest and most expensive level of stock car racing in the United States, with no sponsor, a limited budget, and only a racecar and a borrowed pickup truck. Despite starting with meager equipment and finances, he earned the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award over drivers racing for well-funded teams.
After Kulwicki won his first race at Phoenix International Raceway, he debuted what would become his trademark "Polish Victory Lap". Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup championship by what was then the closest margin in NASCAR history. He died early in 1993 in a light aircraft accident, and therefore never defended his championship. He has been inducted into numerous racing halls of fame and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers.
Kulwicki was known for being a perfectionist and doing things his own way. An engineer by trade, his scientific approach to NASCAR racing inspires the way teams are now run. Despite lucrative offers from top car owners, he insisted on driving for his own race team, AK Racing, during most of his NASCAR career. Described by his publicist as "a real hard type of person to get to know", he remained a bachelor throughout his life.
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