CONCORD, N.C. – Kenny Wallace, renowned racer, broadcaster and motorsports personality, will serve as the featured speaker for the 2019 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) Awards Banquet on Thursday, December 12. The annual affair, which will celebrate the organization’s fifth season and what would have been Alan Kulwicki’s 65th birthday, will be held in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway and feature a live streaming broadcast on Speed51.com.
“It’ll be an honor and pleasure to come and speak to the organization that continues Alan Kulwicki’s legacy today,” Wallace said. “I am really looking forward to it.”
“I was offered a job by Alan before I became a race car driver,” Wallace said. “I got to know him very well when I was a crew member for my brother Rusty. Later I became a race car driver and raced against Alan, so I got to know him in a lot of different ways.
“Alan had a brilliant mind and was a great race car driver,” added Wallace. “He was ahead of his time. After a race in Dover I asked Alan why he was so tired. The answer he gave me told me everything I needed to know. Alan said to me he was tired because he gave it everything he had in the 400-lap race. It made me question myself if I gave it everything I had. He could do everything on his own and that is what I admired most about Alan. He was on an island by himself and we all learned a lot from him.”
Wallace, a St. Louis native, is the youngest of the three-brother second-generation racers born to Russ and Judy Wallace. He earned his nickname, “Herman,” early in life when local Lake Hill Speedway promoter Bob Mueller made note of Wallace’s boisterous behavior when taking up for his father (a champion racer in his own right), likening him to the mischievous cartoon character “Herman the German.”
Wallace’s earliest involvement in racing was as a mechanic and crew chief. In September 1988, Dale Earnhardt gave him the seat for his first-ever NASCAR start, in which he finished eleventh in the Busch Series race at Martinsville Speedway, driving the No. 8 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
During a NASCAR driving career that spanned some 25 years, he earned the reputation as being one of the most prolific and popular competitors in the sport’s history.
The brunt of Wallace’s on-track success came in the NASCAR Xfinity (Busch) Series, where he scored nine wins, 66 top-five finishes, 173 top-10s and 10 pole positions in 547 races. He also competed in 344 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, posting six top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and three pole positions.
After retiring from NASCAR in 2015, Wallace had a successful stint in motorsports broadcasting, co-hosting two weekly programs for SPEED TV and transitioning into a member of the NASCAR on FOX broadcast crew.
“When I was working with Rusty at Penske Racing, I also had the pleasure of working with Kenny for a brief period through the Miller Brewing connection,” said Tom Roberts, who heads the KDDP. “Kenny has always been a sponsor’s dream and that was certainly the case back in those fun days. There’s a good reason why he was the only three-time Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Busch Series.
“While the sponsor’s, legions of loyal fans, media…everyone…grew to appreciate Kenny’s talents through the years, he became known in racing’s inner circle as the ‘go-to wheelman’ in times of need for a replacement driver,” Roberts said. “All the major racing teams knew what he could do on and off the track and were quick to ask for his assistance. Through the years, he subbed for everyone from Kevin Harvick to Kyle Petty, Ernie Irvan, Ricky Rudd and many others.
“Kenny’s been like a brother to me for what seems like forever and we’re so pleased that he has agreed to come and speak at our banquet,” added Roberts. “He’ll be so entertaining for everyone in attendance and watching live on Speed51 and will also offer special insight and possible advice to our seven KDDP drivers and every young racer out there.”
After living in North Carolina for 27 years, Wallace moved back home to Missouri and raced in 75 events this season on both dirt and asphalt. Much of his racing was done in his own UMP Modified race cars that carry sponsorship from UNOH, JEGS and Toyota.
“I’m having a lot of fun these days,” Wallace offered. “We ran 65 races in my cars and 10 in rentals in the Midwest and up in Canada this year. That’s a lot of racing, but I’ve still had time to do things with my family and that’s important to me. I’ve always said that I was a St. Louis boy and getting to follow all the city’s major league teams – going to the games and all like I do – is so cool.
“I honestly don’t know exactly what my schedule will be for next year, but I can guarantee you I’ll be out there racing and having fun,” Wallace said. “It’s in my blood and what I do.”
Wallace and Kim, his beautiful wife of 35 years, have three daughters and four grandchildren. The banquet will occur on the Thursday before what would have been Kulwicki’s 65th birthday (Saturday, December 14) and will celebrate the fifth full year for the organization that bears his name. All seven competitors who represented the KDDP during the 2019 racing season will be recognized. Highlighting the activities for the evening will be the presentation of the winner’s check for $54,439 and the special KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” trophy to the 2019 champion that will be announced on November 14.
Speed51.com, the official media partner of the KDDP, will provide free live streaming coverage of the banquet beginning at 7 p.m. ET on December 12. Speed 51’s Bob Dillner will serve as emcee for the evening.
“We are so blessed to enjoy the outstanding relationship we have with Bob and his Speed51 team,” Roberts said. “They have been with us since the planning stages of our organization and their support through the years has been invaluable. Our banquet may be closed to the public as for actual attendance, but thanks to Speed51.com, everyone across the globe will be able to log on, tune in and enjoy all the evening’s activities.”
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For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com. Follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP and keep up with the organization’s latest news on official media partner Speed51.com.
About the KDDP:
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive. The Program provides drivers with financial assistance along with support in publicity, marketing, sponsorship development, industry networking and relationship building. Based in Concord, N.C., the KDDP is a non-profit organization with the mission of playing a significant role in developing the next era of America’s short-track racers while educating new generations about the life, passion and values of the 1992 NASCAR Champion.
Tom Roberts – [email protected] – (256)508-2595
Jeff Kollath – [email protected] – (608) 516-0448
Jan Beatty – [email protected] – (704) 262-2345
Mark Horn – [email protected] – (704) 331-3540
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release and Photo