Brett Bodine ran an Alan Kulwicki
memorial paint scheme last month at Bristol. Credit:
By Ryan Smithson, Turner Sports
Interactive April 1, 2003
11:03 AM EST (1603 GMT)
Alan Kulwicki was, by all accounts, a man that was
obsessed with making his team succeed.
|Alan Kulwicki knew every
detail of his car. Credit: ISC Publications,
Certain stories about the man are remarkable, and
really show his character. Here are four of them.
Bob Gulbranson worked on the No. 7 program for four
years -- a year-and-a-half for Alan Kulwicki and
two-and-a-half for Geoff Bodine.
But Gulbranson was nearly fired in March 1993, days
before Kulwicki's death.
"I guess it was Monday (March 29, 1993)," Gulbranson
said. "We were testing at (North) Wilkesboro. Us and
"We had a car, and oil line came off and oiled down
the whole track. We lost half the day trying to clean
the track off.
|Kulwicki was named as one of NASCAR's 50
Greatest Drivers in 1998.|
"He (Kulwicki) blew up at me because I was the one
who was responsible, so I took the heat for it. He
wanted to know who did it. I would not rat anyone out.
"At the time, he couldn't drive (on the street)
because he had too many points on his license, and I
rode back (to the shop) with him, and he yelled and
screamed and threw a fit, told me I was fired, and when
I got in the car, he talked like he was my best friend.
"The next day (Tuesday) he didn't talk to anybody and
he was trying to find out who left the oil line loose.
"On Thursday morning, he went to church, and he
usually did, but he didn't usually during the week. He
apologized (to me), which he never did.
"He said, 'You're a good guy, (if) you can keep your
nose out of the B.S. you'll go places. And he left for
"That was something he'd never do is apologize. He
was always right."
From the stands to Victory Lane
Randy Clary and Gary Preziozi were engine builders
for Kulwicki. One afternoon in Charlotte, they went over
to the track to watch qualifying for the 1992 Mello
Kulwicki ended up winning the pole. What happened
next surprised the two engine builders.
Randy Clary: "We were in the grandstand at Charlotte.
Me and Gary.
"We had built an engine for Alan, and he called us
over (the loudspeaker) in the grandstand (to go down
into Victory Lane).
"He appreciated the hard work. It showed up when you
did something for him."
Gary Preziozi: "We got a kick out of that. He would
wear you out, but he always paid you back because he ran
as hard as he could. He showed a lot of appreciation."
Where is my medal?
Kulwicki, who was Catholic, always carried a St.
Christopher medal with him in his car. One day, before a
race in Charlotte, he couldn't find it.
It was minutes to the green flag. Kulwicki was
already strapped into the car. The engine noise was
Kulwicki did the only thing he could. He yelled at
Cal Lawson, his right-hand man, to get him a new one. It
was in his briefcase on pit road.
Lawson knew the combination. It was 7-7-7.
Lawson reached into the briefcase, found a medal,
threw it into the car, and Kulwicki roared away.
Determined to work
In March 1993, a snowstorm that was unprecedented for
Atlanta stormed the track, making it impossible to run
the Motorcraft 500.
The garage, covered in a foot of snow, was deserted.
Just one man remained -- Kulwicki, who was working on
his car. He kept his helmet on to stay warm.
|| PHOTO GALLERY|
Sandy Dries, who was Kulwicki's scorer for five
years, remembers vividly.
"We had driven all night. It was raining, we got up
the next morning, and it's snowing like crazy.
"So we were like, there are not going to race in the
snow, so we went on to the track. And here's Alan,
wandering around in his helmet, doing his thing.
"(Husband) Frank thought that was the funniest thing
he's ever saw. We'd always raced in Atlanta around my
birthday. Two weeks later, Alan was gone."