After the 2020 program was nixed due to COVID-19, applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Kulwick Driver Development Program. Now in its sixth year, seven drivers will ultimately compete for $54,439 and the Kulwicki Cup.
Entries for the program are being accepted until the end of the day on January 8. The final seven drivers will be picked from a group of 25, and will receive $7,777 to help with expenses for the racing season. The competiton will be based off on-track performance, as well as community service performed away from the track.
Fifteen drivers were announced as semifinalists last year before the onset of COVID. Those drivers will become semifinalists once again in 2021, while ten drivers will also be added. Click here to see a list of the 2020 semifinalists.
KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts joined “The Bullring” Monday morning to talk about the 2021 program.
“What happened last year is like so many entities, we got impacted by COVID-19 so we wound up having to pull the plug before the summer months,” said Roberts. “What we wound up doing is we had progressed in formulating our 2020 program to the point that we had selected 15 semifinalists.
“When we did pull the plug we felt like the right thing to do is grandfather those drivers into the program for 2021, and then potentially add ten new drivers into the fold. We will wind up with up to 25 semifinalists, in which seven finalists will be chosen for our 2021 program.
He detailed the timeline for the 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, which is still in the process of being ironed out.
“What we’re going to do, it’s sort of loose right now. I don’t have any particular dates but immediately after our deadline, our staff will formulate a presentation to the applicants that the board will review, then we’ll start an interview process to select an additional ten drivers. And then those drivers will be announced live on your show on February.”
“We’ll go back and reconvene with the board to select the seven finalists. We’re targeting Monday, March 15 as the episode of “The Bullring” in which that wonderful announcement will be made.”
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program first began in 2015 with seven drivers throughout the country. Speed51 has been with the program since day one, serving as the official media partner of the KDDP.
“Bob Dillner and I went back and forth on how we can continue to work together. We’re proud to have Speed51 as our official media partner and has been since day one. As I told Bob just a couple weeks ago, from a business standpoint it was perhaps the smartest I’ve ever done in 45 years in the racing business.”
From his days as PR Coordinator for Alan Kulwicki to now running the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, the relationships he has built with drivers who have participated in the program over the years have been rewarding.
“I really take great pride in working with these kids. I never had children, my late wife and I, so it’s like these kids become my nieces and nephews and their families become extended families of mine. It’s certainly an aspect of what I do that I missed tremendously over the 2020 season.”
“I love short track racing, I love the great competitors that we have to carry Alan’s colors. It certainly is a great pleasure to get out and go see what I feel is some of the greatest short track racing anywhere.”
Drivers interested in joining the 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program can apply here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3