Maine race driver named as national finalist

Episode 356

March 28, 2021

Nation-wide driver title finalist from Maine

Wyatt Alexander from Ellsworth with roots in Aroostook County was named as one of seven national finalists in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP). The Alexander family has deep roots to potato farming in the Mars Hill/Blaine area in Aroostook County.

Head-to-head nationwide competition is not new for the young man from Ellsworth having won the 2018 Valvoline “Fast Track to Fame” Award with its $50,000 award. Alexander also received additional help with media relations, safety, and products.

With help from Valvoline and being located in the Carolinas, Wyatt and team raced at some of the local tracks like the .363 mile Hickory Motor Speedway pictured here. He found that he was able to run right with the locals. (WAR photo)

The Kulwicki announcement was made on “The Bullring” on network March 22, 2021. Follows is the release of the announcement from KDDP.

One of only seven national finalists for the 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, Wyatt heard his name announced on “The Bullring” broadcast on (KDDP photo)

“This was the most difficult assignment that our voting board members have faced since we started our program prior to the 2015 season,” said Tom Roberts, executive director of the KDDP. “With our last year’s edition of the program having to go on hiatus due to the pandemic, we decided that the appropriate thing to do was to make our 2020 semifinalists automatically eligible for that same status this year.”

“To be fair and to continue to move forward, we opened up another application period for the 2021 program that concluded the first weekend of January,” Roberts said. “The end result was that we had the most qualified candidates ever who comprised our group of semifinalists. It was difficult enough to select just seven drivers from our 2020 semifinalists. Adding 10 more deserving young racers to that list made selecting our finalists for 2021 such a demanding task.”

“I want to salute our incredible board members for their involvement and commitment during the entire evaluation and voting process this time around,” said Roberts. “Not only did they take in consideration the backgrounds of all the applicants, they also were very diligent in reviewing all of the interviews and studying the competition schedules for all of the semifinalists. They realistically could have selected multiple groups of seven finalists who were so deserving and would make fantastic representatives for Alan and our organization.

“I realize that today’s announcement will make our seven special finalists extremely happy and proud, and they certainly should be,” Roberts said. “We urge them to strive to emulate the personal fortitude and dedication that Alan Kulwicki displayed in becoming a NASCAR Champion and Hall of Famer.

“At the same time, this news will also bring disappointment to all the others,” added Roberts. “We hope that every driver who was selected as a semifinalist will consider it as a major honor, especially when they think about the vast number of qualified competitors who applied for our program. We hope that they learned from being a participant in the process and will continue to go forward this season, turning heads along the way. We hope that when the season concludes, they will all be improved racers who will consider applying again for our 2022 program.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on last year’s competition, the 2021 season will mark the sixth fully-functioning year for the KDDP, which was established in 2014 by the Kulwicki estate for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive.

The seven drivers announced today as members of the 2021 KDDP class will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will provide the drivers assistance in important aspects such as publicity, marketing, sponsorship development and industry networking during the season as they compete for the grand prize “Kulwicki Cup.” That award winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial prize ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special unique trophy.

In addition to Alexander the other finalists are:

  • Luke Fenhaus 16, Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Max Kahler 17, Caledonia, Illinois
  • Ryan Kuhn 20, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts (first KDDP finalist from Massachusetts)
  • Kole Raz 18, Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Brooke Storer 22, Land of Lakes, Florida
  • Dylan Zampa 17, Napa California

Wyatt remarks about the announcement:

Alexander began racing karts in 2004 at Thundering Valley Raceway in St. Albans, Maine. The next 8 years were spent in karts.

At age 12, he moved up to Legends cars in southern Maine. He had to get special permission to race those cars at his age. Only two years later at the tender age of 14, he moved into super late models. At age 15 in 2015, he won the Boss Hog 100 at Wiscasset which to this day stands out as one of his favorite wins.

In 2017 he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend North Carolina Charlotte majoring in mechanical engineering. Alexander stayed at UNC for two years while holding down several jobs in the motorsports industry.

Wyatt Alexander and girlfriend Lindsey Walker were featured in the May 2019 Speedway Illustrated Magazine. (Jason Beck photo)

Alexander transferred to the University of Maine Orono continuing in mechanical engineering. He will be pursuing a track championship at Beech Ridge Speedway, a rare task for the Alexander family. Best wishes to Wyatt. We will be following the family again this season.

Kody Swanson adds to his busy 2021 racing schedule

USAC Racing’s Richie Murray posted the latest news about Kody Swanson going back to his roots in pavement midget car racing. Here is what Murray wrote courtesy USAC Racing.

Pavement midget owned by Jerome Rodela that will be driven by 5-time USAC Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson in 4 races at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana. (Rich Forman photo)

Kody Swanson will team up with car owner Jerome Rodela to compete in four USAC Midget Special Events on the pavement in 2021 at Brownsburg, Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway on May 28, June 17, July 3 and August 14.

All the midget races at the .686-mile paved oval are non-points events toward the national championship, and the Swanson/Rodela combo intends to compete for victories at a track where Swanson has won on eight previous occasions with USAC (5 Silver Crown, 2 Sprint and 1 Midget).

Swanson’s lone previous appearance in Rodela’s midget came on the dirt at California’s Ventura Raceway during a 2011 USAC Western States Midget event, finishing 10th.  The two have competed against each other on track numerous times on the west coast with Rodela owning a pair of driving championships in his own right with the series in 2005 and 2006.

Now the pairing of Swanson and Rodela plans that their formation as a team turns out the same winning pedigree that they are accustomed to.

“I’ve known Jerome for a long time,” Swanson stated.  “We raced together on the west coast when I was still out there.  We keep in touch a little bit, and I check in with him when he’s in town.  Along came a great opportunity to race together again and I’m looking forward to doing it at Lucas Oil Raceway.”

Rodela also serves as the crew chief on the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget trail for driver Logan Seavey in the Tom Malloy No. 25.  Rodela is no stranger to the pavement and has a passion for it that runs deep.

“I’m pretty excited,” Rodela exclaimed.  “I know I have a nice piece, and I think he’ll do well in it and showcase it pretty well.  I’ve put a lot of effort into this program, and I know that Kody has a real passion for these cars, and he’ll put forth the same effort.  That’s why I think it’ll be good.”

“It’s definitely exciting for me,” Swanson explained.  “I came to the Midwest as a pavement guy specifically to run midgets at Lucas Oil Raceway.  After racing shifted with pavement sprint and midget racing going away in some capacity, it’s great to have them back, and great for someone like me who has always enjoyed the pavement, to get the chance to race them again.  I’m thankful for the effort Kasey Coler and Lucas Oil Raceway have done to get pavement midgets get back going.  I’m looking forward to having some fun.”

My favorite holy day

I am writing this on Palm Sunday as well as the first full day of Passover. The Easter Holy Week celebration is my favorite of all the “holy” days. The shear significance of the events of that time and how its influence carries through to 2021 is mind-blowing to grasp. Time and history changed this week and I am glad it did. I hope you might take the time to look into what each day brings to Holy Week and especially Resurrection Sunday.

In honor of Resurrection Sunday, I will not be publishing that evening.

Let’s go racing (after Easter)

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)


Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine