CONCORD, N.C. – The seven drivers who will represent the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) for 2015 were announced this morning exclusively on Speed51.com, the official media partner of the organization. Those seven competitors will compete for the inaugural “Kulwicki Cup” during this year’s racing season.
The 2015 KDDP inaugural class of drivers includes (in alphabetical order):
26, West Bend, Wisconsin
Following in the line of great Slinger Speedway racers like Alan Kulwicki, Conrad Morgan, Lowell Bennett, and Al Schill, Steve Apel has mastered the “World’s Fastest Quarter-Mile,” winning track championships in 2013 and 2014. A CNC milling machine salesman, Steve is widely respected for his sportsmanship, work ethic and his willingness to promote the track and his fellow competitors whenever possible. In 2015, Steve will again chase the track championship at Slinger and hopes to venture out to other tracks in the area.
18, Statesville, North Carolina
A freshman engineering student at North Carolina State University, Justin plans on competing in the CARS Late Model Stock Series and selected NASCAR Whelen All American Series races in 2015. Chasing the points championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2013 and 2014, Justin earned numerous top-five finishes while racing against some of the best funded teams in the Southeast. Throughout his career, from go-karts to late models, Justin has driven a black and orange #7 to honor his hero, Alan Kulwicki.
DAVE FARRINGTON, JR.
23, Jay, Maine
The 2014 NASCAR Whelen All American Maine State Champion, Dave Farrington, Jr. won the track Pro Series championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway without winning a race, but with no DNFs. He won three races at Beech Ridge during the 2013 season. At age 15, he had become one of the winningest go-kart racers in New England with 276 feature victories. Dave works as an engineer for General Dynamics at the Bath Iron Works. He earned his Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Maine in 2013, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration.
20, Seymour, Wisconsin
Since jumping into the seat of a super late model in 2012, Ty Majeski has won five races and finished in the top-five 23 times in only 37 races. In 2014, Ty became the youngest champion in the history of the ARCA Midwest Tour, clinching the title at LaCrosse (WI) Speedway’s Oktoberfest in a borrowed car after destroying his primary car in a preliminary race. Ty is currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Ranked #1 among 80,000 drivers on iRacing, an online racing simulator, Ty will again race for the ARCA Midwest Tour title in 2015.
21, DePere, Wisconsin
Committed. Relentless. Conscientious. These are three words frequently used to describe Reagan May, the 2014 TUNDRA Series Rookie of the Year. Reagan won three super late model features last season, and finished fifth in the TUNDRA Series points. Reagan has interned at Coleman Racing Products in Menominee, Mich., developing and testing prototype parts and learning how to operate CNC machines. A Mechanical Engineering major at Michigan Tech University, Reagan plans to expand her racing schedule in 2015, competing full time with the TUNDRA series and visiting several new tracks as her budget allows.
15, Scotts Valley, California
Wise beyond his years and hungry to learn everything about his race car, 15-year-old Bryce Napier has earned the respect of competitors and fans for his work ethic and dedication to success. Working alone after finishing his homework, Bryce will clean the car from top to bottom, scale the car himself and consult over the phone with his crew chief about gear and sway bar changes. The car is always ready to go when he hits the track. The 2014 Stockton 99 Speedway Rookie of the Year, Bryce works closely with military families through his sponsor, the Support Military Foundation. He looks to build on an already impressive foundation during the 2015 season.
18, Sellersburg, Indiana
When there is no local short track available nearby, a racer will go to great lengths to compete. In 2014, Cole Williams traveled three hours each way to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and won the track championship. It’s a cherished honor shared by NASCAR legends Darrell Waltrip and Sterling Marlin. A year earlier, Cole won the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Missouri State Championship and track championship at I-44 Speedway in Lebanon, Mo., some six hours from home. A Journalism major at Indiana University- Southeast, Cole will race his family’s car at Nashville again in 2015, while also running several Late Model Stock races in Virginia and North Carolina.
“This is the day we have been anticipating since Thelma Kulwicki announced the formation of the program last May,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “We now know the seven promising young drivers who will be carrying our colors and vying for the inaugural Kulwicki Cup this season.
“The great diversity we have within this group certainly adds to the intrigue of our program,” said Roberts. “There is coast to coast representation. They hail from Maine to California and range in age from 15 to 26. In the group are three drivers from Alan Kulwicki’s home state of Wisconsin, including the defending track champion at his beloved Slinger Super Speedway.
“I am so excited as we move forward with the program this year,” added Roberts. “Having Bob Dillner and his incredible staff at Speed51.com involved has already been so invaluable. They are the absolute best when it comes to promotion and their site has become the preeminent media outlet for short-track racing. Bob has mentioned some great ideas that will spark additional interest and fun for the Kulwicki Cup competition and we can’t wait to see them implemented.”
The KDDP was established last spring by the family of late NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki to help worthy drivers along the way in reaching their dream, while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive. Drivers from all across the U.S. and Canada submitted applications. The seven-member KDDP advisory board reviewed all the applications and narrowed the field down to 15 finalists. Those drivers were interviewed individually and the board then had the difficult task of choosing the roster of seven drivers for the 2015 season.
“We had so many great candidates who applied to be part of our inaugural class and we are sincerely thankful to them all,” Roberts said. “I don’t have a vote, but just as I have indicated over the last couple of weeks, I feel confident that any seven of our finalists would have made terrific representatives for our organization.”
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 trophy.
A hybrid points system that takes into account on-track results, off-track engagement with fans and social media, and community involvement will be unveiled shortly. Much like the old system used to determine the NASCAR Rookie of the Year, KDDP drivers will earn points for their best 15 finishes, plus additional bonus points for victories.
“Connecting with the fans at the track, working with news reporters and broadcasters and being active on social media is something all our drivers are passionate about,” said Roberts. “Beyond that, we know the seven drivers will share far and wide the mission of the program and Alan’s legacy. Giving back to the community is an important part of the KDDP, too, and we look forward to seeing how our drivers do this throughout the season. Our board will be particularly interested in this aspect of the program.”
The official competition will go from April 15 until October 15 during the 2015 racing season. The inaugural Kulwicki Cup winner will be announced in November and will be honored at an event in December.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release