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Spotlight: Racing Trailblazer Honored

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Spotlight: Racing Trailblazer Honored

Date Published:
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friends and family of 1992 Winston Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki gathered this month with members of the N.C. Motorsports and Automotive Research Center Advisory Board and UNC Charlotte representatives to dedicate the Alan D. Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory.

In the fall of 2009, Thelma Kulwicki made a gift to support the Motorsports Engineering Program in The William States Lee College of Engineering. The University’s existing motorsports research laboratory has now been named in memory of Alan Kulwicki, whose promising career was cut short when he died in a plane crash.

“Thelma’s philanthropy in honor of her son provides resources for future motorsports engineers and is already helping reinforce classroom instruction with hands-on experience,” said Dr. Robert Johnson, dean of the William States Lee College of Engineering. “Her generous gift will lead to innovations in motorsports safety and advancements in vehicle performance.”

The first college graduate to win stock car racing’s premiere title and the first person to both own and drive for his own team, Kulwicki was a trailblazer in the modern era of NASCAR racing.

Thelma’s philanthropy in honor of her son provides resources for future motorsports engineers and is already helping reinforce classroom instruction with hands-on experience.
Dr. Robert Johnson, dean of the William States Lee College of Engineering

The University’s connection with the legacy of Alan Kulwicki began in 1994 when R.J. Reynolds and Kulwicki’s fans established the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Scholarship award. In addition, with contributions from Felix Sabates, a wing of the athletic complex located adjacent to the softball field was named in Kulwicki’s honor. The Kulwicki family has also agreed to donate racing memorabilia for display in UNC Charlotte’s new motorsports facility, which is currently in the planning stages.

UNC Charlotte’s Motorsports and Automotive Engineering program was created in 1998 with the formation of a motorsports concentration within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science. The program offers one of the most innovative “hands‐on” educational experiences in the country. As a result, roughly 10 percent of all NASCAR engineers are UNC Charlotte graduates.