(Above) Kenny Bernstein, right, celebrated Sunday's Big Bud Shootout win, then (below) went on to beat Tom Anderson to win Monday's Big Go as well.
In 1983 at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Kenny Bernstein put on one of the most dominating Funny Car performances in NHRA history.
On Sunday, he drove his Budweiser-sponsored Mercury LN7 to the win in the lucrative Big Bud Shootout, an all-star bonus race for the sport’s quickest Funny Car teams. Then in Monday’s U.S. Nationals, as the event’s No. 1 qualifier, he raced to four more round-wins and claimed his first trophy at the world’s most prestigious drag race. Bernstein outran Al Segrini in the final of the Shootout and defeated Tom Anderson in Monday’s final round.
Bernstein’s effort remains one of the most memorable moments in the history of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and will resonate again this year as part of a series of special tributes that will highlight the 60th edition of the Big Go, Aug. 27-Sept. 1.
During the weeks leading up to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, NHRA will unveil six of the most iconic moments in the history of the event that will remember the very heroes who made them. NHRA will conduct official presentations to honor each of the moments – including Bernstein’s – in the Hot Rod Junction Friday through Sunday of the Indy race weekend.
This is the second iconic moment that NHRA has announced it will celebrate during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Earlier, NHRA announced that on Sunday of race weekend, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits will reenact his famous beard-shaving scene that followed his triumphant 1967 victory.
Bernstein’s presentation will take place Saturday of race weekend.
“No one had ever done it, so it was very special,” Bernstein has said about his famed Indy double. “It is very difficult to run that many runs and not have something go wrong, have the driver make a mistake or have someone flat outrun you. Plus you need to have Lady Luck on your side for some of those runs. I remember being worn out on Sunday night, and I still had to race on Monday. After Monday, I was totally done. It was a tough weekend.”
Bernstein, who won six world championships and was the first driver to earn championship titles in both Funny Car and Top Fuel, is perhaps best known for his milestone speed performance at the 1992 NHRA Gatornationals when he clocked the first 300-mph speed. In Indy later in 1992, he posted the first 300-mph run in Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals history. Of his 69 victories, Bernstein claimed three in Indy, winning twice in Funny Car and once in Top Fuel.
The most historic and tradition-rich event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has been contested annually since 1955.
The milestone 60th installment of the Labor Day weekend drag racing spectacular will feature more than 1,000 competitors in 12 categories. The 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is also the final event in the regular season. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock), and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the race that will once again be televised by ESPN2 in more than 10 hours of coverage.
On the racetrack, the 60th anniversary Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will feature intense side-by-side racing at more than 320 mph as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete for their share of the $2 million purse and battle for important world championship points. The race is the final regular-season stop for the circuit and will establish the top 10 fields for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Perhaps more important, drivers will compete to earn a permanent spot in NHRA history as a Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner.
The race will also showcase the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, in which the top drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car will race for $100,000 bonuses, as well as the annual Mopar Hemi Challenge for Super Stock cars and thrilling competition in both the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
In addition, the event will feature fan-favorite Cacklefests, vintage race cars on display in the Hot Rod Junction, autograph sessions with many of the legends of the sport, a Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, fireworks displays, and much more.
To purchase tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATIX.com.
Fans encouraged to Grow Like Garlits for 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals celebration