Thursday 1st April 1993
Alan Kulwicki (38), nicknamed “Special K” and the “Polish Prince”, an American NASCAR Winston Cup Series racecar driver, died in a plane crash returning from an appearance at the Knoxville Hooters in a Hooters corporate plane on a short flight across Tennessee before the Sunday spring race at Bristol. Alan, son of USAC mechanic and engine builder Jerry Kulwicki, grew up in Milwaukee. His father didn’t approve of his son racing cars, but Alan raced all the same. He became the youngest racer to start a late-model stock- car race in Wisconsin when, at the age of 18, he started a race at the Hales Corners Speedway. He took home $27. Little by little, Alan worked his way up the ranks of American stock-car racing. Continuing to pursue his dream to race on the NASCAR circuit, Alan owned, maintained, and raced his own cars throughout his career. He became the Winston Cup Circuit’s “Rookie of the Year” in 1986, a remarkable feat considering he raced without heavy corporate sponsorship. The next year his success brought him a sponsorship from Xerox. Alan went on to win the Winston Cup Circuit in 1992. His untimely death prevented him from defending his title. The 38-year-old Kulwicki had been the first owner-driver to collect the championship since Richard Petty did so in 1979, as well as the first NASCAR champ to hold a college degree.