Monday marks 20 years since Alan Kulwicki’s passing

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Monday, April 1 marks 20 years since the passing of 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki of Greenfield, Wis. Kulwicki and five others were killed in a plane crash near Bristol Motor Speedway that day in 1993.

Until Tony Stewart won the 2011 Sprint Cup, Kulwicki had been the most recent owner/driver to capture the series championship.

Nicknamed “Special K” and the “Polish Prince,” Kulwicki won only five Cup races, but is known as the pioneer of the “Polish victory lap” – a reverse lap around the top of the track after winning, to salute the fans.

The championship came after a thrilling bout against Bill Elliott, who had won five races and earlier in the year held a 278-point lead.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel racing beat reporter Dave Kallmann offers a reflection here.

This Friday, April 5, the Milwaukee County Historical Society will open the Alan Kulwicki: A Champion’s Story exhibit, on display until December 31. More information can be found at www.kulwickiexperience.com and/or www.milwaukeehistory.net.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.