NHRA- John Force Racing
May 4, 2012The Thunder Road Show
FORCE, BERNSTEIN, CHILDRESS JOIN HALL OF FAME TONIGHT TALLADEGA, AL (May 3, 2012)
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame tonight inducted two NHRA greats, Kenny Bernstein and John Force, along with NASCAR’s Richard Childress into the Hall of Fame. At a sold-out banquet at SPEED Channel Dome located at Talladega Motor Speedway, Bernstein, Childress and Force all spoke emotionally about their inspirational paths and careers that led to tonight’s ceremony. The annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held each year on the grounds of the museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. Event consisted of a reception, banquet and awards ceremony.
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. 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 May of 1992 his IndyCar with driver Roberto Guerrero sat on the pole of the Indy 500. During his driving career he won 69 NHRA national events, four consecutive Funny Car championships along with two Top Fuel championships.
“The festivities surrounding the International Motorsports Hall of Fame are fabulous and we couldn’t be any more proud and honored to now be a member of this elite group of motorsports luminaries,” said Bernstein. “In 1979 in an NHRA event in Baton Rouge, John Force and I faced off in the final Funny Car round. It was one of the first times either of us had made it to a final round and here we were racing each other. It’s ironic that 33 years later we are both standing on this stage for this momentous occasion.”
“If you had asked me in 1979 where we saw ourselves in 33 years, we never would have guessed our path would have led us here. John has been a good friend for all these years and we’re pleased to have reached this destination together,” added Bernstein, who was voted one of the Top 10 Greatest Drivers in NHRA history.
“It’s also an honor to share the stage with Richard Childress. We were first introduced in 1980 by R.J. Reynolds motorsports boss Ralph Seagraves when Richard and Dale Earnhardt sewed up a championship at Riverside International Raceway. When we began fielding a NASCAR team several years later, Richard was the man who was always available to help me and give me direction and for that we have been eternally grateful. It’s great to reconnect with Richard tonight.”
“My son Brandon, who has been a part of our racing operation for many years is here tonight along with our special guest Larry McReynolds, who was our NASCAR crew chief for many years. We are proud that they are here to share the evening with us,” added the proud father.
“Lastly and most importantly, I want to thank my wife Sheryl for standing by my side and working shoulder to shoulder with me for the past three-plus decades. She has been responsible for a great deal of my success and we couldn’t have done it without her.”
NASCAR championship-winning team owner Richard Childress, 1961 Daytona 500 winner Marvin Panch and the late Les Richter have been nominated for the Class of 2012 for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Childress won six Sprint Cup titles with the late Dale Earnhardt, three Nationwide Series titles (two with Kevin Harvick, one with Clint Bowyer) and a Camping World Truck Series title with Mike Skinner.
John Force owns virtually all of the major records in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series including those for final round appearances (215), tour victories (134), No. 1 starts (139) and championships (15 including 10-in-a-row). The 1996 Driver of the Year, Force is a 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection and the only four-time winner of the Jerry Titus Memorial Award which identifies the driver receiving the most overall votes for the All-America team. The oldest champion in a major series when he won the 2010 NHRA Funny Car title at age 61, Force was named RACER Magazine’s 2010 Racer of the Year.
“You can’t talk about your career without leaving someone off of the list. I don’t want to miss anyone but there are key people that helped me get into the Hall of Fame tonight and one of the major people was Austin Coil. Without Austin there is no way I am here tonight accepting this honor. I also have to thank my wife Laurie for putting up with me. I always tell people she loves me but she just doesn’t like me. We used to sleep in the cab of a truck and she did everything from writing my first contracts to most importantly racing our three amazing daughters Ashley, Brittany and Courtney,” said Force.
“In the early days my oldest daughter Adria would help out wherever she could and now she and my son in law Robert Hight help me run this company. I still think back to the early days with Uncle Beavs (Gene Beaver) and Dave Condit we were a mess but we loved to be at the track. I always wanted to be like (Don) Prudhomme and (Don) Garlits and Kenny. That was my dream and to be here tonight just shows you want an ole truck driver can do if he puts his mind to something and he has a lot of help from some really smart people.”
“Castrol has been with me almost this whole ride and I am proud to represent them as well as Ford, AAA, Mac Tools, BrandSource, Traxxas and Freightliner plus every sponsor that has ever been on my race car. We are all going into the Hall of Fame tonight. For the NHRA this is big to have me and Kenny go in together and I could not be prouder to represent our sport like this,” added Force, one of the most loquacious sports figures in America.
“I am so honored that it is hard for me to say how much this means to me. We have won a lot of races and championships but I always just wanted to put on the helmet and hear the roar of the crowd. I am going to keep on racing until someone tells me I can’t do it anymore and then I am going to go on tour. I also want to thank the media. They used to write stories about me just because I was crazy and caught on fire all the time. Thank you for every interview and every story. I have been a very lucky man and I want to thank everyone at Talladega Motor Speedway for putting on this event.”