The sixth in a series of Articles titled "Legends of the Sport" will look at the career of another fellow Texan, Kenny Bernstein, also known as the "King of Speed". Kenny was the first to break the 300 mph barrier in the quarter-mile. Born September 6,1944 in Clovis, New Mexico, Bernstein attended High School in Lubbock, Texas and attended college at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Kenny's first love was Drag Racing so he left college to pursue his dream, however, he did not have enough money to support his dream so he went to work as a traveling salesman selling young girls clothing. Kenny took driving jobs to gain experience, driving Top Fuel Dragsters & Funny Cars.
Kenny started racing Funny Cars full-time in 1979 and later that year signed a sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch. Story has it that Kenny painted his Funny Car with the Budweiser Logo & paint scheme & parked it in the Corporate parking lot of Anheuser- Busch so when the CEO & Head of Marketing drove in they couldn't help but see it. The rest is history, it turned out to be the longest running sponsorship in racing lasting 30 years, until Anheuser-Busch sold out.
The Budweiser King Funny Car with Dale Armstrong as Crew Chief won four National Championships starting in 1985 & running through 1988. I remember when they would throw a towel over a particular part on the race car & acted like they were hiding some mysterious speed secret they did not want their competitors to see, when all they were doing was playing mind games with the competition.
In 1990 Bernstein switched over to the Top Fuel Dragster category and two years later he was clocked at 301 mph to become the first person to exceed the 300 mph barrier and earn him the title of the "King of Speed". Bernstein would win his first of two Top Fuel Championship in 1996 and won a second Championship five years later.
Bernstein turned the driving duties over to his Son, Brandon in 2002, but following an accident that left Brandon with a broken back, Kenny resumed the duties of driving for the rest of the year winning four straight Events. The following year found Kenny at the helm of the "Monster Energy Drink" Funny Car which proved to be unsuccessful so Kenny abandoned it after two years.
Kenny also at one time owned a Nascar & Indy Car Team & was successful in both ventures. Today Kenny & Brandon are still racing Top Fuel Dragsters & are currently sponsored by CoPart. They are still very successful and sitting in the ninth spot in points. We wish them all the best!
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