Work Hard, Play Hard
By the early 1980s, Kulwicki was running late-model stock car races all over the Midwest. He frequently raced at the famous Milwaukee Mile at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. Kulwicki also raced for five years in the American Speed Association (ASA) National Tour. From 1981-1983, he drove for a team called Transact Racing. His biggest win with Transact came at Milwaukee in 1983.
As Kulwicki's professional driving career progressed, he became a very serious and intense competitor. His desire to win and perfectionist approach made him difficult to get along with, causing Transact to have high turnover among crew members. The final straw was Kulwicki forgetting to publically thank his crew members for their help in winning at Milwaukee. Soon after winning the event, Transact fired him.
The solution, as Kulwicki saw it, was to become an owner/driver. If he owned the team, he could hire crew members who he knew he could work with, and he would have more control over the team’s operations. So, for the final two seasons of his ASA career, Kulwicki was an owner/driver. Racing the Hardee’s No. 28 car, he earned one win, nine top fives, and two poles in 1984. The following season, he won one race again and improved to 12 top fives and four poles in 16 starts. In his entire ASA career, Kulwicki won five races and 12 poles with a best points standings position of third in 1982 and 1985.
When he was away from the track, Kulwicki was looser and more relaxed, especially in the company of close friends. He enjoyed going to clubs and discos in Milwaukee during his post-college years, as well as listening to jazz music and attending Broadway theater. Kulwicki also had a reputation as a ladies’ man, which stuck with him throughout his racing career. He reportedly carried with him and frequently updated a list of all the desirable qualities he sought in a spouse. But at the track, Kulwicki was all business and kept a clear separation between his professional life and private life.