Six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein announced today that he will partner with Monster Energy drinks to “Unleash the Beast” to stage a 2007 comeback tour in the Funny Car category.
“I thrive on competition and I still love the sport,” said Bernstein. “I’ve been searching for the perfect opportunity and the perfect sponsor to field a competitive team to get back into the sport, and Monster Energy drinks provided the ideal scenario. I’m as excited as I was the first time I ever sat in a Funny Car.”
“At Monster Energy we are all about going extreme in everything we do and NHRA Funny Car racing is about as extreme as it gets,” said Monster Energy Drink president Mark Hall. “When we decided to get into the sport, we looked to partner with an athlete who fits our image and shares our competitive spirit. Kenny Bernstein is a fierce competitor with a proven track record of success. The fact that Kenny has a relationship with our new partner for distribution, Anheuser-Busch, was a bonus. We look forward to a long successful partnership with Kenny Bernstein Racing and are confident Kenny will be a great representative of the Monster Brand.”
Bernstein, who is famous for building Budweiser brand identity in the motorsports community will now attack Monster Energy brand-building with the same zeal.
“NHRA drag racing will provide a tremendous amount of exposure for Monster,” said Bernstein. “Monster does have a common ground and cross-over with Anheuser-Busch because Monster is distributed by many Anheuser-Busch wholesalers. It was a natural fit. We have a multi-year commitment and we will work in every market we visit along the way to try to increase Monster sales, using the same business philosophy my father taught me at a young age, the principles I’ve used through the years.
“Plus Monster aligns itself with extreme sports and there’s nothing more extreme in motorsports than a 7,000 horsepower nitro car.
“It’s been no secret that it’s been difficult for me to sit on the sidelines. I’ve been in the cockpit for so many years that at first, I couldn’t even find a comfortable spot to stand at the starting line. And I really missed the competitive side. I can’t explain the rush and the kick you get from driving a 330 mile-per-hour nitro car down a quarter-mile, but that’s a feeling you can’t replace or find a substitute for. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with good health and still feel that I can be very competitive.”
Bernstein will run the Monster Energy Funny Car operation under Kenny Bernstein Racing, Inc.
“I will still be the owner and play a major active role in the Budweiser/Lucas Oil team as I always have,” said Bernstein. “It will remain intact as you know it. We feel that adding a second car will strengthen our position.”
Second generation driver Brandon Bernstein is pleased about his father’s return to the cockpit.
“I know he still has the itch to drive,” said Brandon, “and this is about the best scenario you could ever hope for because Monster is connected to Anheuser-Busch. He has coached me and helped me through the learning curve of driving the Top Fuel car and I talk to him after every run. I’m sure we’ll have even more information to trade now that he’ll be driving.”
“Because we know how fast rumors spread,” said Kenny, “we wanted to take a proactive approach to go on record to announce our partnership with Monster Energy drinks.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us to get ready for 2007, but we’re energized and excited about getting back in the saddle. It will be fun mixing it up with John Force, Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi, and all the others in the Funny Car class.”
Bernstein, known for his lightning-quick reaction times, dominated the Funny Car category for much of the 1980s, winning four consecutive championships from 1985 through 1988. His last year behind the wheel of the Funny Car was 1989 before he switched to Top Fuel in 1990.
Bernstein has amassed 69 career victories while driving for Budweiser, 30 in Funny Car and 39 in Top Fuel. Besides four Funny Car championships, he also accrued two Top Fuel championships, 1996 and 2001.
“We’re happy for Kenny that he has an opportunity to climb back into the driver’s seat. He’s proven to be a great owner of the Budweiser team, but he’s obviously a racer at heart and has a passion for driving,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president, Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We’re excited he’s working with a mutual partner in Monster, and we agree with Brandon that sharing information between the two teams will only help the Budweiser team achieve its goal of winning a championship.”
After retiring at the end of the 2002 season, he came back to finish the 2003 season after Brandon suffered season-ending injuries in a first round crash May 18 in Englishtown, N.J. Kenny competed in 15 races that season, winning four of the last five events, scoring six semifinal appearances, and accumulating enough points to finish an unbelievable sixth in the final point standings that year.
Bernstein climbs back into the cockpit of the Top Fuel car annually to make enough runs to keep his NHRA nitro license current.
He has made his mark, but his expertise goes far beyond wins and losses. He is first and foremost a businessman and he is focused on helping to build awareness and sales for Monster Energy drinks and Budweiser.
Monster Energy was launched in 2002 and in just three short years has become the number two brand in the exploding energy drink category. Monster Energy provides consumers seeking a boost of energy to fuel their active lifestyle with a proprietary blend of vitamins, herbs and amino acids that packs a vicious punch with a smooth flavor that’s easy to pound down.
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