Upcoming Events on

RATV white
Full Schedule

Do Kulwicki Driver Development Program Patches Carry Supernatural Powers?

There is something very special about the two custom-made patches that have been sent to 46 promising young racers since the KDDP was founded in 2014.


hero image for Do Kulwicki Driver Development Program Patches Carry Supernatural Powers?

Among the many items each Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) Finalist receives heading into the racing season is an envelope labeled “Supernatural Powers Enclosed.”

While that terminology about the contents may be quite a stretch, there certainly is something very special about the two custom-made patches that have been sent to 46 promising young racers since the KDDP was founded in 2014.

“There’s a lot of pride, time and TLC that go into those patches,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “There’s also a lot of great history connected.”

“It’s a true labor of love,” said Linda Straw, whose Spring Hill, Florida-based Simply Stitches, LLC, has been providing the unique embroidery pieces for the KDDP for almost a full decade now.

“My husband (Dave) and I were from the Milwaukee area before we relocated to Florida back in 1997,” Linda said. “We were active members of the racing community and knew Alan and his dad (Gerald) very well. Back in the day, we were all just a bunch of kids out there racing for fun.

“We were all a pretty tight-knit group back then racing at Hales Corners and other tracks in the area. Jeffrey Quaderer was a pit crew member for Alan’s team and he served as best man in our wedding. We were great friends with Jimmy Gish, who was instrumental in helping Alan early in his career.”

So how was Linda charged with the duty of providing the patches for the organization that was established by the Kulwicki Family for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive?

“All the credit goes to Dennis Czarnyszka,” Linda said of the late KDDP founding board member who succumbed to a heart attack in June 2016. “I lost my brother at an early age and Dennis became like a sibling to me. We all knew each other and socialized together back in Wisconsin when he was helping drivers like Miles Melius and others. Our friendship continued and we kept in touch when we all moved to Florida.

“When the KDDP was announced and getting started, Dennis knew I had done embroidery work for many years and he reached out about doing the patches,” Linda said. “He was pretty determined in his feeling that there needed to be two different patches I would do.

“There had to be the KDDP patch, of course, but Dennis was insistent on there being a special Mighty Mouse patch also, like Alan was noted for wearing on his uniform. I immediately agreed to do the one for the KDDP, but declined to do the Mighty Mouse patch until he showed me that the organization had gotten legal approval (from CBS Properties) to utilize the character in their marketing activities. When he did that, I ordered a design and utilized my software to add the No. 7 to Mighty Mouse’s chest to give it that special touch.”

AK Sporting Mighty Mouse Patch

Categorizing the patches that Linda produces as “custom-made” is quite the understatement when considering the time and effort she puts into each.

“Every patch is done with a lot of detail,” said Linda. “While we could go much faster, I have my machine set at only 600 stitches per minute to assure the best quality. There are 11,241 stitches in each Mighty Mouse patch and 21,904 stitches in each KDDP patch. You can do the math and see that there’s no mass production involved. (Each KDDP patch requires almost 37 minutes and the Mighty Mouse patches require almost 19 minutes apiece.)

While Linda admits that she may not keep up with the KDDP on a daily basis, she is regularly reminded of her unique association with the organization by family members and friends.

“People send me photos of the drivers wearing the patches and it always gives me such a great sense of pride,” Linda said. “Here we are today, almost a decade later, and we just completed another order of patches for the program. I do very few projects like this these days, but the KDDP is special to us and always will be. It’s like remaining connected to Alan and all the special memories we made during our racing days back in Wisconsin.”

Gallery image 0.

Ty Majeski sporting his KDDP patches. Majeski was the program's first champion in 2015.

Gallery image 1.

2021 KDDP Champion Luke Fenhaus climbs out in victory lane at the 2021 Slinger Nationals.

Gallery image 2.

2018 KDDP Champion Brett Yackey sports his KDDP patches while greeting fans at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2019.

Gallery image 3.

2019 KDDP Champion Jeremy Doss (left) poses with fellow program finalist Derek Griffith at the Snowball Derby in 2019.

Gallery image 4.

2022 KDDP Champion Dylan Zampa poses during photo opportunities at the 2022 KDDP banquet.

Gallery image 5.

The 2016 KDDP class of finalists sporting their patches.

Thank you, Linda!

Continue to wear those special patches with great pride out there, KDDP drivers and alumni!

The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of its news and activities by regularly visiting RacingAmerica.com, the organization’s official media partner.

-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Release

RA Icon


Sign-up for our free NASCAR & Grassroots racing newsletter...