NASCAR Hall Of Fame Buys 1992 Alan Kulwicki Championship Car

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NASCAR Hall of Fame Foundation has added the original 1992 Ford Thunderbird, that 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Alan Kulwicki drove in the last race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway to win the 1992 Cup Series Championship, to its collection.

NASCAR officials say they used funds donated by The Alan D. Kulwicki Donor Advised Fund to purchase the car, and this marks the first time that the NASCAR Hall of Fame Foundation has received a cash donation to buy an artifact.

“The 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is widely regarded as one of the most significant moments in NASCAR history,” says Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “The NASCAR Hall of Fame is thankful for the diligence and support of the dedicated group of Kulwicki family, friends and fans who brought this landmark acquisition to fruition. We are honored to receive such a generous donation that enables us to preserve and showcase the winning Ford Thunderbird driven by one of the legends of our sport.”

Officials say in addition to the champion car, the 1992 Hooters 500 featured three more Hall of Famers including Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Bill Elliot.

The five-way battle for the championship cemented both the race and the Ford Thunderbird as iconic pieces of NASCAR history, according to a news release.

Previously the car was on display at the Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, but officials say once funding is secured they will restore the car to its former glory as a key piece of racing history.

NASCAR officials say preserving the sport’s history is a core piece of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s mission.

“The NASCAR Hall of Fame is honored to serve as the permanent home for thousands of artifacts that preserve the history of NASCAR. The addition of Alan Kulwicki’s 1992 Championship car allows the NASCAR Hall of Fame to expand its collection of artifacts that create a tangible record of our inductees’ accomplishments,” says Kevin Schlesier, Director of Exhibits of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “His car will now be reunited with the NASCAR Hall’s permanent collection of other Kulwicki artifacts donated by Thelma Kulwicki in 2011, including his Championship season Winston Cup, fire suit and gold car trophy.”

Officials say Alan Kulwicki began his racing career in his hometown of Greenfield, Wisconsin and was a mechanical engineer by trade before he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1984 with a self-built race car to compete in NASCAR’s highest series.

Kulwicki was even named the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year with a self-owned team despite having no sponsor or budget, according to a news release.

Officials say after Kulwicki won in 1992, he died just a year later in a plane crash, and is still known as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers of all time.

Since his death, officials say a dedicated group of Kulwicki’s family and friends have continued working together to preserve his legacy.

“From the first time I met Gerry and Thelma Kulwicki, there was never a doubt of the love and respect they held for Alan. Also evident was the deep pain of their loss and of a life gone too soon,” says Beatty-Hendley. “From Alan’s humble beginnings to his iconic 1992 NASCAR Championship and his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his life and legacy mattered, not to just Gerry and Thelma but also to his many fans. I made a promise to Thelma before her passing that I would do my best to keep Alan’s legacy alive in ways honorable to the Kulwicki family. I can’t think of a greater honor or tribute to Alan than for the NASCAR Hall of Fame to become the final resting place of this very special No. 7 car. “