The Plane Crash

Alan Kulwicki "Champion Forever" Illustration

This illustration was created by artist Jeanne Barnes in memory of Kulwicki.

On April 1, 1993, Kulwicki was making a sponsor appearance at a Hooters in Knoxville, Tennessee.  That evening, he boarded the Hooters private plane to fly to Bristol, Tennessee, the site of the next Winston Cup race.  As the plane approached its destination in nearby Blountville, it crashed before reaching the airport.  All four people on board were killed in the crash, including Kulwicki, pilot Charlie Campbell, and Hooters executives Mark Brooks and Dan Duncan.  The cause of the crash was likely due to ice in the plane’s engine inlet.

Word of the crash spread, and the AK Racing team learned what happened in the early morning hours of April 2.  With their driver gone, the team withdrew from the upcoming race at Bristol.  Before leaving, Peter Jellen drove the No. 7 hauler around Bristol for a single lap in memory of Kulwicki.  Kulwicki’s funeral was held the following week, and he was buried in St Adalbert’s Cemetery in Milwaukee.  He was 38 years old.

Kulwicki was invited to compete in the International Race of Champions (IROC) Series in 1993.  IROC was an effort to have champion drivers from different racing disciplines compete against each other in identically-prepared cars.  Kulwicki was only able to compete in two of the year's four races before his death.  He is pictured here racing at Daytona International Speedway (2) with sports car racer Davy Jones (3) and open wheel star Al Unser (5). 

Peter Jellen takes the AK Racing team hauler around Bristol International Raceway as a tribute to Kulwicki.

"The Champ" Refrain

Following Kulwicki's death, the band Chill Factor wrote a song, "The Champ," in his memory, which includes this refrain.

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