May part of Kulwicki Development Program
By Bert Lehman
Editor, Full Throttle Magazine
De Pere’s Reagan May had a big year in 2014, but is gunning for a bigger year in 2015.
Being selected to the Kulwicki Driver Development Program got her year off in the fast lane.
The program honors the late Alan Kulwicki, who used his Wisconsin racing roots and embarked on a championship career in NASCAR’s top division. Kulwicki lost his life in a plane crash April 1, 1993.
The development program was established by Kulwucki’s family to “help worthy drivers along the way in reaching their dream…while at the same time keeping Alan Kulwicki’s memory and legacy alive.”
The program helps drivers with financial support in covering operational expenses, transportation costs, entry fees, and assistance with necessary equipment. Other resources provided include sponsorship, publicity and business education, and industry networking and relationship building.
A total of seven drivers were selected for the program in 2015. Three of those drivers reside in Wisconsin — May, Ty Majeski, and Steve Appel.
“I personally was appealed to it because it was something that I could still be involved in but not give up my schooling,” May said. “I go to school at Michigan Tech as a mechanical engineer and a lot of the other programs you can’t do both. You have to give up something.”
May, 21, said she is honored to be selected to the program, especially since the goal of the program is to honor Kulwicki and the independent way he became a champion.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to 2015,” May said.
To be considered for the program, May said she had to complete an application, which encompassed including a racing resume and any publicity articles about her. After reviewing all applications, the board of the development program narrowed the search to the top 15 candidates.
A phone interview with several board members followed.
“They were very supportive and great to work with so it should be a good year,” May said.
The candidate list was eventually narrowed down to the final seven.
And what was May’s reaction when she found out she made the final cut?
“I was actually astonished to be completely honest,” she said. “It’s just an honor. To make the top 15 I was completely happy and content with that because someone has taken a notice of all the hard work and everything that goes into it. To make the final seven and to be the only female in the group of seven is spectacular.”
She added, “No matter how this year ends, I’m happy and honored to be a part of it.”
The fact that three Wisconsin drivers made the final cut is also a testament of the racing competition Wisconsin provides.
“I think it shows a lot,” May said. “I think that shows there’s a lot of great cars, a lot of great drivers, coming from the state of Wisconsin. And of course Alan Kulwicki was from Wisconsin so that’s a bonus as well. I think it just shows that the field is strong and everyone is out there doing what they love and going out for the win.”
When asked what she has to do this season as part of the program, May said, “Pretty much it’s what you want to make it out to be.”
She said the better the drivers finish, the better they do in the program.
“My goal is to run as many races as I can at as many different tracks to get the experience,” she said.
Keeping fans engaged, and being part of social media is also part of the program, May said.
As more time passes since Kulwicki’s death, May said today’s younger racers don’t realize how great Kulwicki was.
“He was a perfect role model, not only for racing but as a mechanical engineer. I look up to him for my racing and schooling for my career. He’s just one of those people who there isn’t a lot around,” she said.
May said she is planning for a 35 race schedule in 2015.
She plans to participate in the Triple Crown races at Madison International Raceway.
“I’ve only been there once and I wasn’t driving,” May said. “That’s a fast-paced track so we’ll see how it goes.”
Her main focus will be following the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series. She was rookie of the year in the series last year, won her first feature at LaCrosse Speedway, and finished fifth in points. Wisconsin tracks on her schedule include Wisconsin International Raceway, Golden Sands Speedway, Dells Raceway Park, LaCrosse Speedway, and Jefferson Speedway.
(This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Full Throttle Magazine.)