The Underbird Restored
In the autumn of 1993, Larry Bean, a retired police officer living in Daytona Beach, arranged to purchase AK Racing chassis #008, the “Underbird” car Kulwicki had won the championship with the previous year. Bean and his wife Pam bought the car from Cal Lawson and driver Geoff Bodine, who had started his own team from the remnants of AK Racing. The Beans had taken up automobile restoration as a hobby and were eager to work on a car that represented the crowning achievement of Kulwicki’s career.
The Beans consulted with former AK Racing crew members for over two years as they worked on the restoration. The championship team members helped Larry Bean to outfit the “Underbird” with its original engine and parts. Bean became increasingly committed to completing an authentic restoration of the car. He included details like a glovebox containing a comb, which Kulwicki raced with so he could always comb his hair upon exiting the car and look presentable for the media. Kulwicki also had a St. Christopher medal in the car with him for each race. Bean discovered one such medal glued to Kulwicki’s driver seat and decided to leave it in place for the restored car.
By the summer of 1996, the restoration of the “Underbird” was finished. In July, the Beans took the car to Milwaukee for a series of fundraising events towards the opening of Alan Kulwicki Park. Larry Bean even got to take the “Underbird” for a Polish victory lap around the Milwaukee Mile. The Beans continued to loan the car to auto racing museums until selling it to Hooters in 2005.
Today, the “Underbird” is on display at the Hooters Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.