Six-time NHRA drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein and open-wheel driver, designer, and engineer Jim Hall were the newest inductees into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame in a Gala held Wednesday night at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway.
Six-time NHRA drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein and open-wheel driver, designer, and engineer Jim Hall were the newest inductees into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame in a Gala held Wednesday night at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. Bernstein and Hall join previous inductees Johnny Rutherford, A.J. Foyt, Terry Labonte, and Lee Shepherd.
Kenny Bernstein, who was the first driver in NHRA series history to go over 300 miles per hour, may be best known for being one of only two drivers (Gary Scelzi) in National Hot Rod Association history to win a championship in both nitro categories. Retiring as a driver at the end of the 2002 season, he has owned teams in NASCAR and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Having won 69 national events, Bernstein won the Funny Car championship in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988. He was the top fuel champion in 1996 and 2001.
Jim Hall's driving career included driving for the Sterling Moss Formula1 team in 1963. That year he finished 12th in the Drivers World Championship. Having won the U.S. Road Racing Championship in 1964, he again dominated the USRRC with 10 wins and won the Sebring 12 hour, the Road America 500, and the Canadian Grand Prix in 1965. In 1966 Hall won the pole or set the fasted lap time at every CanAm race he entered.
In 1962 Hall founded Chaparral Cars, based in Midland, Texas. The Chaparral Car pioneered the use of composite structures, automatic transmissions, aerodynamic downforce, and "ground effects" in racing. Chaparral Cars competed in national and international championship road racing events through 1970, winning races at Laguna Seca, at the famed Nurburgring in Germany in 1966 and at Brands Hatch in England in 1967. Hall/Haas racing won International Formula 500 Championships in 1974, 75, 76, with driver Brian Redman, and won International Cam-Am Championships in 1977, 78.
Hall was team manager of the 1978 and 1980 Indianapolis 500 winning Chaparral Racing Team and in 1978 they became the only team to win "Auto- racing's Triple Crown" (Indianapolis, Pocono, and Ontario 500 mile races in a single season) with driver Al Unser Sr. Hall's team in 1980 won both the USAC, and CART Indycar National Championships with driver Johnny Rutherford.
Three other annual awards were presented during the banquet. Raymond Beadle, long-time competitor and team owner in NHRA, was honored with the Bruton Smith Legends Award. Beadle's NHRA teams won three consecutive Funny Car titles from 1979-81. He also owned the former Winston Cup Series car that Rusty Wallace drove to the NASCAR championship in 1989.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup owner, Jack Roush received the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year Award. Roush's teams swept both NASAR NEXTEL Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway last season. Greg Biffle won the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 in April and Carl Edwards captured the inaugural Dickies 500 in November. Roush Racing has won five of the ten NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway general manager Eddie Gossage auctioned Roush's famous hat spontaneously during the Gala for $6,500. The money from the auction went to the children of Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home in Grandbury, Texas. Proceeds from the banquet also benefit the children of Happy Hill.
David Starr received the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Sportsmanship Award. Starr has eight top-10 finishes in 15 career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts. He won the Craftsman Truck Series race last weekend in Martinsville, Virginia. Starr was picked to receive the award for his work on and off the race track, which includes his many efforts to assist Speedway Children's Charities.