Road to the Future canditates named

Baca, Bernstein named candidates for 2003 Automobile Club of Southern California "Road to the Future" award. GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2003) - Two National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Fuel drivers have been selected as the candidates for ...

Baca, Bernstein named candidates for 2003 Automobile Club of Southern California "Road to the Future" award.

GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2003) - Two National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Fuel drivers have been selected as the candidates for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, it was announced today by officials from the NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California.

Second-generation racers David Baca and Brandon Bernstein were selected as candidates for the prestigious award, which annually recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and offers a $20,000 prize and sleek ceremonial trophy to the winner. Baca is the son of 1977 U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner Dennis Baca, while Bernstein is the son of six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein.

The Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award will be presented during the NHRA's annual awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 10 at the spectacular Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

"For more than 100 years the Automobile Club of Southern California has represented integrity, commitment and professionalism to our millions of members. The Road to the Future Award has come to symbolize these same attributes in the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing," said Thomas V. McKernan, president and CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California. "To be nominated recognizes not only that a rookie driver had a noteworthy first season, but also that they demonstrated exceptional potential for the future. We congratulate both of the nominees for this year's award and look forward to enjoying their achievements both on and off the race track for many years to come."

Baca, 45, from Brentwood, Calif., drove his American Racing Wheels dragster to a memorable final round appearance in front of his hometown crowd at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. and posted two No. 1 qualifying efforts, including one at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Thanks to his consistent driving style, Baca is currently 6th in the NHRA POWERade Series point standings in Top Fuel, averaging 48.1 points per event.

Bernstein, 31, from Lake Forest, Calif., earned three victories, two No. 1 qualifying positions and led the POWERade Series point standings for one week aboard the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster in only eight starts. He also posted a runner-up finish in the Budweiser Shootout at Pomona, a lucrative all-star event for Top Fuel competitors. Bernstein's stellar season was cut short when he received season-ending injuries in May after his car went out of control and crashed near the starting line at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. After a successful recovery, Bernstein is expected to resume his driving duties at the NHRA season-opener in 2004. Prior to his crash, Bernstein averaged 78.6 POWERade Series points per event.

In 2002 the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award and the NHRA Rookie of the Year Award were combined to create one award recognizing the future stars of the sport. Past winners of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award have developed into some of NHRA's biggest stars, including Tony Pedregon (1996, Funny Car), Ron Capps (1997, Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (1998, Top Fuel), Antron Brown (1999, Pro Stock Bike), Melanie Troxel (2000, Top Fuel), GT Tonglet (2001, Pro Stock Bike) and Gene Wilson (2002, Pro Stock).

Recent NHRA Rookie of the Year winners have included Darrell Russell (2001, Top Fuel), Don Lampus (2000, Top Fuel), Scotty Cannon (1999, Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (1998, Pro Stock), Gary Scelzi (1997, Top Fuel) and co-winners in 1996, Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Hines (Pro Stock Bike).

Rookie drivers in all four of NHRA's professional categories are eligible to win the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. A special panel consisting of representatives from the Automobile Club of Southern California and NHRA select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events participated, performance on and off the race track, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.

In addition to the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, the company also is the primary sponsor for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway, as well as a major sponsor for John Force Racing, providing primary sponsorship for the Mustang driven by Gary Densham, as well as associate sponsorship for the Ford Mustangs driven by Force and Pedregon. In addition, the company also is the presenting sponsor for the California Hot Rod Reunion, contested each year in early October at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

The Automobile Club of Southern California is the largest affiliate of AAA. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by the organization's emergency road service, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs and automotive testing and analysis.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has 80,000 members and 140 member tracks. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , David Baca , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Gene Wilson , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Don Lampus , GT Tonglet , Mike Edwards