The CARS Tour’s Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) has developed into a special event, with fans packing the famed bullring to see racers honor heroes of the sport with vintage designs on their Late Models.
The inaugural winner of the CARS Late Model Stock Tour portion of the event, Justin Carroll, returns for another shot at a win in the event Saturday. On Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, Carroll revealed he will be honoring one of the Hall’s latest inductees in this year’s event.
Carroll, a finalist in the 2019 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, unveiled a scheme celebrating 1992 NASCAR Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki’s induction into the Hall of Fame during a Wednesday ceremony, situated in the Great Hall with “Glory Road” situated behind his Late Model Stock Car.
The hood features the logo of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, celebrating Kulwicki’s induction. The car also features collages including numerous photos from Kulwicki’s career along the sides.
“We’re really excited,” Carroll said about the car. “I think it ties in with the grassroots. Alan drove down in his pickup truck from Wisconsin and had a dream to go to the Cup level. He did that. This is all for Alan.
“Last year, we did a collage in the 7, with the Army car,” added Carroll, referencing his throwback last year to Kulwicki’s 1991 Daytona 500 entry. “This year we did a collage throughout the whole car. All the pictures of Alan, his crew, his car. We really have all of his paint schemes combined into one. I really like the collage part of it. It has a lot of good memories, and it shows Alan is still with us. Hopefully we’re going to carry him into victory lane this weekend.”
While the design is not a recreation of any one particular Kulwicki paint job from his racing career, there was still plenty of attention to detail on Carroll’s part with the scheme.
“We put the word Underbird under the headlights on the car,” Carroll said, regarding the usage of Kulwicki’s rallying cry on the nose of his Ford Thunderbird championship car. “I had to do some digging on some Google images pictures to figure out which side the Mighty Mouse went on. I just thought that was something cool. I knew he had it there next to Underbird, but I wasn’t sure which side. I wanted to make sure I had it perfect, so I did some digging.”
All of this is to celebrate Kulwicki’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, something many of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program drivers, Carroll included, have strived towards for several years. Being able to unveil the car in said Hall of Fame made for a special moment.
“It’s incredibly awesome,” said Carroll. “The whole Kulwicki board has worked very hard to get Alan into the Hall of Fame where I think he rightfully deserves to be. All of us drivers have worked very hard, pushing it on social media and getting out there, showing what Alan’s legacy was all about, what he did as a driver, what he accomplished with his own team with Paul [Andrews].”
Andrews, Kulwicki’s former crew chief, joined Carroll in the unveiling of the car. Andrews had not seen the car before assisting Carroll with the unveiling, and was clearly moved by the tribute to his former colleague.
“I love the one at Phoenix with the checkered flag in victory lane,” said Andrews, looking at the pictures featured in the design. “Of course, the championship trophy, holding it up. They’re all my favorite.
“It’s really incredible to have Alan in the Hall of Fame,” added Andrews. “To have this car honoring his legacy, it’s a really neat deal.”
Carroll won the first Throwback 276 in 2017 in a thrilling three-way battle between himself, Austin McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo. With past success on Kulwicki’s colors on his side, Carroll is excited to return to the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” this Saturday while also feeling the pressure to put on a strong run for Kulwicki’s legacy.
“There will be added pressure since we won the inaugural Throwback race there, and even more pressure going there with this scheme,” said Carroll. “I think we’ll have a great shot. We’ve run really well at Hickory. It’s going to be a packed crowd, stands will be packed. It’s an incredible thing the CARS Tour does to allow us to run these throwback schemes, change the number for one race. It’s going to be action-packed. It’ll be a lot of nerves before the green flag, but once the engines fire those nerves will go away.”
Speed51 will be at Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday night for the Throwback 276, and will provide live Trackside Now coverage of the event as well as recap videos on the Speed51 Network following the race.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo