To inquire about the status of the Bernstein collection, please email the Darrell Gwynn Foundation at [email protected]
NHRA LEGEND KENNY BERNSTEIN DONATES PERSONAL RACING COLLECTION
TO DARRELL GWYNN FOUNDATION
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 10, 2012) – Six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein, appearing at Gainesville Raceway for a 20th anniversary celebration of his first-to-300 mph barrier-breaking run, announced that he is donating his personal treasure trove of racing collectibles and memorabilia to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.
"Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of what we consider our most important performance achievement,” said Bernstein. “It seems appropriate to add a little icing on the cake to today's festivities with an exciting plan we would like to share.
“Since our retirement from the sport at the end of last season, my wife Sheryl and I have given a great deal of thought to the disposition of so many of the items we have saved that have defined our career,” said Bernstein. “After careful consideration, we felt that donating the collection to Darrell’s Foundation was a way for us to give back to an organization that is so deeply rooted in our sport.”
“We are absolutely honored that Kenny and Sheryl would think of us and donate this amazing collection of racing memorabilia to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation,” said Gwynn. “This will be a tremendous boost to our mission to support people with paralysis. Kenny has had a brilliant racing career and is one of the true legends of motorsports. I’m just so touched by this gesture. We’re looking forward to receiving the collection, cataloguing everything and making it available for sale to race fans and collectors worldwide later this year with the proceeds benefiting the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.”
“Our relationship with Darrell and his family goes back decades,” continued Bernstein. “We knew him as a teenager and remember him as our tall, lanky, mischievous Budweiser Top Fuel teammate in 1987 and 1988 when we were driving the Budweiser King Funny Car.
“In 1990 we joined the entire NHRA fraternity as we held our collective breath after Darrell suffered life-threatening injuries in a vicious accident at Santa Pod Raceway in England.
“As Darrell began to recover and returned to the U.S., we helped unite the NASCAR and NHRA stars for a benefit softball game to raise money to defray his medical expense. It was a magical evening and one of Darrell’s first public appearances after his accident. We remember the crowd cheering as Darrell threw out the first pitch and our NHRA team prevailed over the NASCAR boys in a tough battle.
“When Darrell started his Foundation, once again the NHRA fraternity united to support its cause.
“And the importance of Darrell’s Foundation hit home when Brandon sustained a severe back injury in Englishtown, N.J. in 2003. We thank the Lord above that Brandon made a full recovery, but all of us in the racing industry know many who have not been so fortunate.
“We have watched Darrell evolve from a feisty teenager to the man he is today and it seems our lives have often intersected. We are proud of what he and his Foundation have accomplished through the years.
“NHRA drag racing has given the Bernstein family so much and in our farewell salute we feel a sense of gratification knowing that the legacy we built in this sport that we loved so much is being passed along to help those who really need assistance. It would be a blessing to see Darrell, and others who have sustained similar injuries, walk again.
“It’s fitting that we would make this announcement at Gainesville Raceway, a landmark track for both of us. Besides being the site of our 300 mile-per-hour achievement, it is the track where Darrell scored his 18th Top Fuel and final career
victory in 1990.”
Following Bernstein’s announcement that he was retiring from the sport (Nov. 15, 2011), he and Sheryl worked diligently through the winter opening boxes of memorabilia and sorting through treasures that had been stored away for decades.
“We relived many of the highlights of our career as we opened packages of long-forgotten items we had stashed away for the defining moment when we would hang up the last fire suit, helmet, and lock the front door to our racing operation,” said Bernstein. “That day has come.”
The Bernstein collection, consisting of historic fire suits, helmets, championship Funny Car and Top Fuel bodies, winner’s jackets, die cast and very personal one-of-a-kind items currently housed in California, will soon be moved to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation’s facility in Florida.
To inquire about the status of the Bernstein collection, please email the Darrell Gwynn Foundation at [email protected]
Please send correspondence to Brandon Bernstein at:
Morgan Lucas Racing
480 Southpoint Circle,
Brownsburg, IN 46112
Or email [email protected]
KENNY BERNSTEIN RETIRES FROM NHRA DRAG RACING
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2011) Six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein has turned the final page and closed the book on his career as a competitor and NHRA racing team owner.
“My wife Sheryl and I have come to a place in our lives where we want to pursue other interests,” said Bernstein. “We have poured our hearts and souls in motorsports for over 30 years and that’s a full time job. It consumes you and there is very little time to relax.
“We are very proud of our accomplishments through the years and it’s been a great ride, but we’re interested in being able to travel at will, we want to spend some time on the golf course, and we’ve recently taken up fly fishing, which we really enjoy.
“It’s time to enjoy life while we still have our health.”
“Kenny, Brandon, Sheryl and team are a first-class organization. We have enjoyed our partnership over the past two seasons,” said Jay Adair, CEO of Copart. “We wish Kenny and Sheryl the best in retirement.”
“Copart was supportive of our decision and we’re very grateful to CEO Jay Adair and President Vinnie Mitz for giving us their blessing and allowing us to step away from the sport,” continued Bernstein. “The Auto Club Finals at Pomona this past weekend was our final run.
“We can’t say enough about the close association and rapport we have built within the Copart organization. In the two years we have worked with them, they have made us feel like family. We were very proud and honored to have flown their colors and represented them.
“There’s certainly a great deal of sadness in coming to terms with the end of an era and some concern about whether or not you can run a life at 300 mph and then come to a sudden stop, but Sheryl and I gave this a tremendous amount of thought before we came to our final decision. Brandon was also a part of the decision-making process and we are going to do everything we can to help him find a position with another team. Brandon lives and breathes the day-to-day demands and understands the endless hours of effort that we poured into the team. Brandon wanted what was best for Sheryl and me at this stage of our lives. He was totally selfless.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all the team members who have worked for us through the years as well as the sponsors who have supported us. We certainly want to salute the fans who have cheered us on and given us encouragement through the past three decades. And we appreciate all the media coverage through the years. We have made some great friends on all sides of the spectrum and we’re grateful for that.
“We salute the late great NHRA founder Wally Parks, who was a dear friend and gave us an arena in which to live out our dreams. We are fortunate to have had a job that we loved and without Wally’s vision, it’s hard to say where our life’s path would have led.
“For a youngster that grew up in Texas dreaming about cars and reading Hot Rod magazine, we were able to live the dream.
“For the near term, we are looking forward to our induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (May 3, 2012) in Talladega, Ala. alongside John Force and Richard Childress.
“Thanks again to all those who have touched our lives. We are walking away with a treasure chest full of memories.”
Team owner and six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein is a gifted driver and businessman. He holds the unique distinction of being the first and only race team owner to have collected wins in each of America’s three major motorsports series: NHRA drag racing, NASCAR, and CART (IndyCar).
He earned the title “King of Speed” when he became the first NHRA driver to break the 300 miles-per-hour barrier March 20, 1992 in Gainesville, Fla.
In May of 1992 his IndyCar with driver Roberto Guerrero sat on the pole of the Indy 500.
Bernstein’s association with Budweiser lasted for 30 years, setting the watermark as the longest-running sponsorship in the history of auto sports. During his driving career he won 69 NHRA national events, four consecutive Funny Car championships (1985-1988) along with two Top Fuel championships (1996 and 2001). He was also voted in the top 10 on NHRA’s 50 Greatest Drivers list.
As a team owner he has accumulated 18 Top Fuel victories with son Brandon at the wheel.
Following is a chronological list of Kenny Bernstein’s career highlights. For a more detailed list, please visit www.kennybernstein.com.
1966 Supported a Top Fuel drag racing hobby which included several
victories on the Texas Pro Fuel Circuit, by selling high fashion women’s
1974 Abandoned his racing hobby to focus on the Chelsea Street Pub
Restaurant chain he founded with Randy Pumphrey in Lubbock, Texas
1978 Returned to racing in mid-season with the Chelsea King Funny Car.
1979 Won his first NHRA national event, the Cajun Nationals in Baton
1980 Debuted the Budweiser King Funny Car, beginning a sponsorship
association that lasted an unprecedented 30 years
1983 Drove the Budweiser King Funny Car to victory in both the Big
Bud Shootout and the U.S. Nationals during the same weekend,
becoming the first to achieve that double win
1984 Became the first Funny Car driver to break the 260 mile-per-hour
barrier (260.11 mph), March 18, Gainesville, Fla.
1985 Won the first of four consecutive NHRA Funny Car Championships
Founded King Racing NASCAR team
1986 Won his second NHRA Funny Car Championship
Became the first to break the 5.50-second barrier (5.425 seconds,
Sept. 26, Ennis, Texas)
Became the first to break the 270 mph barrier in a Funny Car
(271.41 mph, Aug. 30, Indianapolis)
1987 Won the NHRA Funny Car Championship for the third time
Became the first to break the 5.40-second barrier in a Funny Car
(5.397 seconds, April 5, Ennis, Texas)
Won Big Bud Shootout for the second time
Founded King Protofab IndyCar team (later renamed King
1988 Won the fourth consecutive and final NHRA Funny Car Championship
of his career
Earned first victory as a NASCAR team owner when Ricky Rudd
prevailed at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
1989 Announced decision to move from Funny Cars to Top Fuel
dragsters in 1990
Earned second NASCAR win with Ricky Rudd at Sears
Point (now Infineon Raceway) in Sonoma, Calif.
1990 Debuted the Budweiser King Top Fuel dragster
Earned third NASCAR victory with Brett Bodine at North
1991 Tied the single season record at that time for Top Fuel
victories with six
Earned the final spot in the Cragar 4-Second Club
Became the first driver to win both the Big Bud Shootout
for Funny Cars and the Budweiser Classic for Top Fuel
cars with Classic victory at Pomona, Calif.
1992 Became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier (301.70
mph, March 20, Gainesville, Fla.)
Was pole-winning and one-lap and four-lap speed record-setting
owner at the Indianapolis 500 with driver Roberto Guerrero.
1993 Became the first driver to win 100 career rounds in both Top
Fuel and Funny Car
Won the Budweiser Classic for second time
1994 Became the first driver to break the 310 mile-per-hour barrier
with speed of 311.85 mph in semifinals and set NHRA national
record of 314.46 mph in season-ending Finals at Pomona, Calif.
Earned first IndyCar victory as a car owner when Scott Goodyear
prevailed at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
This victory made Bernstein the first car owner to attain victories
In each of the tree major American auto racing series: CART,
NASCAR and NHRA drag racing.
1996 Won first NHRA Top Fuel Championship and became first driver to
win championships in both nitro categories
2001 Won sixth NHRA Championship, second in Top Fuel
With son Brandon, became the first father and son to win at
the same NHRA national event in April at The Strip at Las
Vegas Motor Speedway. They doubled again in June at
Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
Voted in the top 10 drivers in NHRA’s 50-year history
2002 This season marked Bernstein’s “Forever Red…A Run To
Remember” retirement tour
Bernstein passed the keys to the company car to son Brandon
2003 Brandon’s rookie season.
Kenny stepped back into the cockpit after son Brandon sustained
season-ending back injuries from a crash in Englishtown, N.J.
Kenny won four events to finish the season sixth in point standings
after beginning to accrue points in the 10th event of the season.
2004 Brandon returned to the Top Fuel cockpit
2005 Named by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters
Association as one of 12 nominees for the Newsmaker of the Half-
Century award. In alphabetical order the nominees were: Mario
Andretti, Kenny Bernstein, Dale Earnhardt, John Force, A.J.Foyt,
the France family, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, the Hulman-George
family, Wally Parks, Roger Penske and Richard Petty.
2006 Inducted into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame April 5 at a
Gala at the Texas Motor Speeddway
Announced at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals that he would stage
an NHRA comeback driving the Monster Energy Funny Car in 2007
2007 After one season driving the Monster Energy Funny Car, Kenny
made the decision to step out of the cockpit
Inducted into the Don Garlits International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
2009 Celebrated Budweiser/Bernstein 30th anniversary, the longest team/
Sponsor relationship in autosports history. Also the final year of
2010-11 Two seasons of Copart sponsorship
Copart, founded in 1982, provides vehicle sellers with a full range of remarketing services to process and sell salvage and clean title vehicles to dealers, dismantlers, rebuilders, exporters and, in some states, to end users. Copart remarkets the vehicles through Internet sales utilizing its patented VB2 technology. Copart sells vehicles on behalf of insurance companies, banks, finance companies, fleet operators, dealers, car dealerships and others as well as cars sourced from the general public. The company currently operates 154 facilities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Salvage vehicles are either damaged vehicles deemed a total loss for insurance or business purposes or are recovered stolen vehicles for which an insurance settlement with the vehicle owner has already been made. For more information, or to become a member, visit www.copart.com.