“I actually drove when it was boycotted in 1969,” Childress said. “I have some great memories from back in the day. To be put in the Hall of Fame in the 2012 class with Kenny and John is really special, because they are two great guys. My grandson is going to be honored tonight for winning the ARCA Championship. So with all of us together it is going to be a pretty good evening.”
Last fall, Richard Childress Racing won at Talladega for the 12th time, which is more than any other team, but it also marked his 100th Sprint Cup win at Talladega. Dale Earnhardt accounted for most of those wins for Childress with 67. He said if it wasn’t for Earnhardt he would not be receiving the honor.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Dale Earnhardt and the success we had as partners in racing,” Childress said. “I just wish he was here to see it. When we put him in I was here that night and it was really special.”
NHRA racing legend John Force was also honored Thursday night.
“I have been here a few times,” Bernstein said. “In 1996 and 1997 I won Driver of the Year. I will be leaving here tomorrow morning when NASCAR kicks off here; we will be kicking off in Commerce, Ga., with the NHRA championship run, so I am pretty excited. It is a great night.”
Force owns a majority of the major records in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series including tour victories and championships with 15. At 61, Force became the oldest champion. Force said he is proud to be able to be at this special event with his family.
“Not just for me, because it is awesome that my wife and my children are here tonight,” Force said. “My kids grew up and now they are all driving. They were around for a lot of the stuff and for them to be here for this I am really happy. When you are up there with the Pettys and the Earnhardts what can a man say. Kenny Bernstein is here. He is the first one to go over 300. Richard Childress is here from NASCAR, so I am here with the best of the best. I am proud that they picked me and I am alive to see it.”
Kenny Bernstein, a six-time NHRA world champion, record-breaking driver said it is an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“First of all, it is a great honor,” Bernstein said. “It feels wonderful and I am very humbled to be put into this wonderful Hall. I just walked through and looked at all the names that are on the wall and I am in awe. I don’t know how I got here, there are some great ones.”
Bernstein is still recognized as being the first driver in the NHRA to reach 300 mile per hour bearer.
“It was 1992 and I have to give credit to my team,” Bernstein said. “They did a great job. They worked hard all winter to be the first team to do it. That day the Budweiser King went straight down there. It was perfect conditions, it everything was right and it ran 301 miles per hour. It was a very special moment and it is still to this day.”
Bernstein said coming back to Talladega to honored is like a homecoming.
“I was in NASCAR for 10 years,” Bernstein said. “I owned the Quaker State team, so I know a lot of people down here. We have Larry McReynolds at our table, which is my first crew chief and the first person I hired when I came. Richard Childress I have known since 1980 so it is great. It is almost like coming home to be honest about it.”