CONCORD, N.C. – The application period for the 2021 edition of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) is now open and has been extended until January 8, 2021. Up to 10 drivers will be added to the 15 semifinalists who were named for last year’s program, which was placed on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even though we continue to be in a situation faced with so many unknowns as we head into a new year, we’re taking a proactive approach in hopes that our 2021 program can roll off as scheduled,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “Alan Kulwicki was always a positive thinker and we’re following his lead moving forward. With the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines just around the corner, we’re confident that 2021 can offer a major turnaround for racing, the sports world and life in general.
“This year has been such a difficult challenge to navigate for racing everywhere and I applaud competitors, promoters and track owners alike for being able to provide fans with fantastic competition in the areas where facilities could operate,” said Roberts. “We are really looking forward to getting the sixth season of our program underway, hopefully as scheduled on April 1.”
The 2020 program saw 15 semifinalists being selected and named on March 2, with individual interviews completed on March 12. With the pandemic impacting the country with a fervor, the KDDP board members chose to not go forward in selecting seven finalists for 2020. When it was clear that the program could not operate up to even minimum standards, the board members officially pulled the plug for the year on June 4.
“I applaud our fantastic group of board members for doing everything possible to have a program up and running this year,” said Roberts. “They were committed to making sure that if we had a program, it could offer a level playing field and live up to the tremendous reputation it had earned during our first five years.
“With the board opting to not go forward and select seven finalists from the group of 15 semifinalists, they felt the appropriate thing to do was award those drivers selected this year with automatic semifinalist status for our 2021 program. The end result will see us selecting our seven finalists for the 2021 program from up to a maximum total of 25 promising young racers.”
The 15 KDDP semifinalists for 2020 included, in alphabetical order: (Twitter & Highlights)
Wyatt Alexander, 20, Ellsworth, Maine – @WAlexander_96
Youngest ever champion of Wiscasset Speedway’s Boss Hogg 100
Danny Benedict, 23, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada – @Dannybenedict54
2019 KDDP Finalist, 2018 Provincial NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champion
Jackson Boone, 19, Franklin, Tennessee – @jacksonboone7
2019 Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Pro Late Model Champion
RJ Braun, 19, Wales, Wisconsin –
2019 Big 8 Rookie of the Year, 2019 Slinger Speedway SLM Rookie of the Year
Chad Butz, 20, Howard, Wisconsin – @ButzCbr8
Youngest Super Late Model winner in Norway Speedway (Michigan) history at the age of 15
Luke Fenhaus, 15, Wausau, Wisconsin – @luke_fenhaus
2019 KDDP Finalist, 2018 State Park Speedway SLM track champion, five feature victories
Marcel Gravel, 23, Wolcott, Vermont – @Gravel86Marcel
2017 Milk Bowl pole position winner & all time Thunder Road track record holder
Austin Herzog, 17, Clovis, California – @Austin11Herzog
2019 Nut Up Pro Late Model Champion at Madera Speedway
Garrett Huffines, 18, Selah, Washington – @GarrettHuffines
2019 Fall Classic winner (Yakima Speedway) & Pro Late Model track champion
Ryan Kuhn, 20, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts –
2018 Seekonk Speedway Late Model Champion
Reilly Lanphear, 20, Duxbury, Vermont – @reillylanphear
Going full time on American Canadian Tour after racing Late Models at Thunder Road
Jacob Nottestad, 18, Cambridge, Wisconsin – @Jnottestad97
2019 Late Model Track Champion at Slinger Speedway with 9 feature wins and 9 fast times
Kole Raz, 16, Lake Oswego, Oregon – @RazKole
2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Arizona State Champion
Riley Stenjem, 19, Stoughton, Wisconsin – @77stenjem77
Won 2 of 3 Late Model features at 2019 Jefferson Speedway Wisconsin State Championships
Brooke Storer, 21, Land O’ Lakes, Florida – @brookestorer9
2018 Auburndale Speedway Sportsman Champion, two Wheel Man Racing Series feature wins
Racers who would like to apply for the 2021 Kulwicki program and join those 15 semifinalists can do so by visiting the organization’s website at www.KulwickiDDP.com and following the directions.
Immediately after the January 8 deadline, the KDDP staff will formulate a presentation of the applications received for the board members to review. They will interview and select up to 10 additional competitors who will join the 15 from last season as semifinalists for the 2021 program.
The additional drivers who are chosen will be announced live on Speed51.com’s “The Morning Bullring” in early February. The board will then select seven competitors from the huge group of semifinalists who will compete for the rich and prestigious 2021 Kulwicki Cup. Those seven drivers will be named and interviewed live on the Monday, March 15 edition of Speed51.com’s “The Morning Bullring.”
The seven selected drivers will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will work to provide the drivers assistance in important aspects such as publicity, marketing, sponsorship development and industry networking during the season as they compete for the “grand prize.” The Kulwicki Cup winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial award ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special unique trophy. Seymour, Wisconsin’s Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during the inaugural year for the program. Lomira, Wisconsin’s Alex Prunty claimed the 2016 title and Marietta, Georgia’s Cody Haskins was the 2017 KDDP Champion. Brett Yackey, from Greeley, Colorado, claimed the 2018 Kulwicki Cup and Upper Lake, California’s Jeremy Doss earned the 2019 crown.
The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through Oct. 31. The contest’s points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Drivers are given points for both their success in chasing checkered flags and for community engagement, program representation and social media activities.
The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of its news and activities by regularly visiting Speed51.com, the organization’s official media partner.
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For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com. Please follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP and be looking for our possible expansion to other social media platforms.
About the KDDP:
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion and Hall of Fame member 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.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo