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Kulwicki Spotlight: Levon Van Der Geest Has High Hopes For Second Half of 2024

Levon Van Der Geest is making the most of his second run as a finalist in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, but still has plenty he hopes to achieve this season.


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Being a finalist in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program is a rare opportunity. Having a second chance is even rarer.

Levon Van Der Geest has that opportunity in 2024. The Merrill, Wisconsin native is a KDDP finalist for the second year in a row after being part of the program in 2023.

As special as the opportunity was one year ago, it carries even more weight now.

“To have a second chance like that, I’m very grateful for that,” said Van Der Geest to Racing America. “I think, this year, I understand the full weight of how big of an impact Alan Kulwicki had on the people’s lives that are part of the program. I can see that when they talk about him. It’s really special.

“To have another chance to represent him, to have them all agree that I’m a good representation of his legacy, it’s really something that I’m proud to be a part of and I’m proud to represent him.”


It’s been a strong start to the 2024 season for Van Der Geest. He’s currently second in ASA Midwest Tour points, and leads the Super Late Model points standings at Golden Sands Speedway.

“I think it took two or three races for us to hit our stride,” said Van Der Geest. “Since then, for the most part, we’ve brought really fast cars to the track and I’ve performed well. I think we’re going to continue gaining momentum as the season goes on.”

Still, Van Der Geest maintains a sharp eye on the goals he wants to achieve this year. Along with continuing to fight for the Golden Sands and ASA Midwest Tour titles, there’s one Wisconsin driver in particular he wants to beat.

“There are a couple of goals I have for the rest of the season that are going to be tough, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t reach them. I really want to take over the Midwest Tour championship. I want to hold on to the Golden Sands championship. And I want to beat [Ty] Majeski in a race before the end of the year. That’s one of my biggest goals.”

Majeski, along with competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, currently leads Van Der Geest in the ASA Midwest Tour championship. It is without question that defeating Majeski on home turf would be a huge feather in any driver’s cap.

Van Der Geest should have several more opportunities to do just that, starting Tuesday with the Slinger Nationals.

RELATED: Watch the Cobblestone Hotels 45th Annual Slinger Nationals on RacingAmerica.TV

“It seems like we’re only halfway through the season, but we’ve raced like 12 races and I’ve got a little over 30 in total. We have a lot coming up yet. I feel like I haven’t accomplished quite as much as I’ve wanted to so far, but we’ve got a lot of races left in the latter half of the year.

“I feel really lucky to be living in Wisconsin where we have such a rich short track racing scene. We have so many different tracks we can go to, week in and week out. There’s Madison, Dells, Kaukauna, State Park Speedway, Golden Sands, Marshfield, it goes on and on. We can really build our schedule around what we want to do and have plenty of races either way.”

Van Der Geest is confident that his program is in a position to compete for several wins and achieve those goals into the summer and fall months.

“I’m hoping, these last 20 or so races, we can finish out strong. In racing, you’ve got to be good, but you’ve also got to be lucky. Last year, we were pretty good, but we also had a lot of bad luck, and we solved a lot of those problems over the offseason.

“This season, there’s nothing standing in my way. We’ve got to start clicking off wins and we’ve got to do what would make Alan proud. We’ve got to finish off the season strong, so that’s what we’re hoping to do.”


Alan Kulwicki is remembered fondly for many reasons, but most remember him as the owner/driver who reached the top of the mountain doing things his way.

Van Der Geest has taken on that level of responsibility with his own racing program in 2024.

“I’m pretty much full-time on race cars this year,” he explained. “I spend pretty much, I don’t know, I’d say 10 hours a day, every day of the week, working on race cars. I’ve done all the maintenance on them throughout the year, all the setups, all the documenting. I think that’s helped our program tremendously as far as being prepared when we get to the track.”

It may be more work, but it’s made the results that much more rewarding and has also improved efficiency and on-track performance.

“It’s a lot more rewarding, being that hands-on with the car. The main difference was, last year, me and the crew would get together a couple of times a week and we’d work on the cars together. That was great, but when you have different people doing different stuff every week, it can lead to a lot of mistakes.

“I feel like me, being able to focus 100 percent on everything this year, I’ve been able to do everything myself. If something’s not right, I hold myself accountable and I fix it the next week. That’s been really helpful.”

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Of course, that doesn’t mean Van Der Geest is doing everything on his own. There is still a great team behind him on race day, and he’s been able to lean on one of the best in the business for setup advice throughout the year as well.

“Toby Nuttleman’s been helping us out a lot this year, setups wise. He’s been at quite a few of the races and he’s been giving us a lot of help. That’s helped big-time with the setups. I’ve been making a lot more of the calls at the races he’s not at.

“As a driver, to be able to make a call and feel what that does in the car, I’m a lot more accurate with the calls I make and the calls the crew makes. We’ve been a lot more efficient as far as getting the car where it needs to be.”


There may not be a race bigger on the calendar for Wisconsin drivers than the Slinger Nationals. The Cobblestone Hotels 45th Slinger Nationals takes place Tuesday, July 9 at Slinger Super Speedway.

“That’s one of the races I look forward to most throughout the year,” said Van Der Geest. “Slinger has such a rich history, and everyone there is so nice. The energy is really good going in.

“We’re putting on new vinyl for this race. The car was getting pretty beat up, but we’ve got a new design. I’m hoping everyone comes out and is able to see it, it looks really good. That’s adding to the energy.”


Van Der Geest finished eighth in last year’s Slinger Nationals, a strong showing in his second appearance in the event. However, he is hungry for more this time around.

“I feel like we didn’t have a great run there last year, but the car was really close, which is ironic. It was turning really good, but we were fighting loose all race. I’m looking forward to going back there.”

Through a unique fundraising opportunity as part of his KDDP endeavors, you can ride along with Van Der Geest at the Slinger Nationals.

“This year, we had all winter to think about it. We put together a problem where we have 23 KDDP stickers that go on the hood of the car throughout the year. People can pay $10 to sign them and ride along for that race. All of the money raised goes to 23 different organizations we chose to support throughout the year.”

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One example of the decals adorning Levon Van Der Geest's cars in 2024 to raise money for various causes and organizations. This one, benefitting the Never Forgotten Honor Flight, rode on his car in the ASA Midwest Tour Salute the Troops 100 at Jefferson Speedway on Memorial Day Weekend. (Photo: Van Der Geest Racing on Facebook)

At the Slinger Nationals, the effort is benefitting the Merrill Lions Club. It is just one of many organizations Van Der Geest is supporting this season.

“It has been pretty eye-opening, when I was finding 23 organizations, how many great people and causes are out there in my community. That’s been really awesome. To be able to raise money and help out in so many different ways has been really eye-opening as well.”

“We’ve raised $4,000 for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight, which was enough to send eight veterans on the flight. That was close to my heart, because my grandpa was a veteran and he went on the Honor Flight. We raised a bunch of money for the Humane Society, a bunch of money for cancer patients, all kinds of stuff. It makes the racing a lot more than just a hobby, then. It adds a lot more depth to it.”

-Featured photo credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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July 9 - Watch the Slinger Nationals on Racing America

Jul 9, 2024