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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

1981 AHRA Grandnationals - Funny Car

By Rick Howard

Don Prudhomme defeated Kenny Bernstein in the Funny Car final. Photo by Rick Howard
Don Prudhomme defeated Kenny Bernstein in the Funny Car final. Photo by Rick Howard

Kenny Bernstein is hot! AHRA Nationals and NHRA Mile-High F/C wins in two consecutive weeks. The beaming Texan was a bit gloomy after two lackluster qualifying attempts Friday. It's amazing what a Saturday 6.00/241 (No. 1 spot, Track Record, Event Low ET and Top Speed) can do for a guy's outlook. Not everyone was overjoyed - namely, Don Prudhomme. "The Snake" was bumped to No. 2 for his 6.12/227. Tom Hovland, Mason City, Iowa's pride and joy, was third at 6.19/217. John Collins, also having a strong season, arrived at Dragway 42 minus Bill Shultz and the "Over the Hill Gang" and with a broken motor. A fifteen-hour thrash produced a 6.39/206, good enough for fourth. 

Tom Motry of Shaver, Wolniec & Motry, placed fifth in the "Golddigger" Mustang II (no times given on qualifying sheet.... here's your trivia question of the day...what was the qualifying times for Motry?). Jim McMurray, the designated hitter for Nelson Lengle's "Sno-Town Shaker" 'Vette, scored a 6.96/168 for sixth. The Colorado bomber features a new one-off body built by San Juan Fiberglas Pool & Spas, one of Nelson's sponsors. The "Fighting Irish" Trans Am of Dick Rosberg nabbed the seventh spot with a 7.15/187. Larry Gould wrapped up the field with an 8.46/101 effort.

Don't laugh at the Iowa farm boys, folks. "Fighting Irish" Dick Rosberg got kicked right in the shamrocks by Tom Hovland in the first pairing on Sunday. Both racers experienced tire shake, but Hovland recovered first, recording a 6.43/210 to 6.85/193 win. Larry Gould must be feeling a bit of "deja vu" as he once again was matched up against John Collins in the first round. And once again, the ex-Ford fanatic lost to the Pioneer Audio Express, 6.45/213 to 6.54/214 when he destroyed an engine in the lights after a futile effort to chase down Collins. Kenny "Budweiser King" Bernstein unceremoniously dumped Tom Motry, 6.18/229 to 7.19/153, dropping several cylinders in the process. The Cam 2/Pepsi Challenger of Don Prudhomme advanced into the semi-finals uncontested as Jim McMurray and the Sno-Town Shaker broke on the burnout and pulled off the right side of the track to allow Prudhomme the single.

In the first semi-final match, Hovland's lengthy AHRA win streak was finally halted by Bernstein, 6.25/203 to an off pace 6.51/202. In the second semi-final contest, Prudhomme stepped back into the teens after a last minute lane change and defeated a slowing John Collins; 6.15/237 to 6.64 (no speed given). These two met in the finals here in 1978 with the same results.

The finals were a repeat of the recent AHRA Nationals competition, but this time Prudhomme experienced sweet revenge as he beat Bernstein; 6.19/239 to 6.84/151. It looks like the "Snake" is back!

Rick Howard


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