Kenny Bernstein retires from racing
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.