Brandon Bernstein (LEFT) has been selected to drive the MavTV/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster for Morgan Lucas Racing in 2012 and beyond. Bernstein's dragster, the same one driven by Shawn Langdon the last three years, will be tuned by longtime MLR crew members Joe Barlam and John DeFilippis.
Bernstein, a veteran of nine seasons in NHRA top-tier competition, had been looking for a new drive since his father Kenny Bernstein elected to shut down his Top Fuel team at the end of last season.
"Brandon Bernstein is the total package," Lucas said. "He brings an amazing presence, a professional attitude and a tremendous fan following to this race team, not to mention his obvious ability behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster. He's the perfect choice to fill the seat and represent our sponsors."
Added MavTV president Bob Patison, "Brandon Bernstein is a solid choice to pilot the MavTV Top Fuel dragster. His professionalism and proven record of success on the track are exactly the attributes a sponsor wants in a driver. Brandon will be a great ambassador for MavTV, a network featuring the best in movies, sports and variety programming."
An 18-time national event winner, Bernstein already ranks fifth among active Top Fuel drivers in total number of victories and is tied for 10th with legend Shirley Muldowney on the all-time class list.
"I'm honored to have this chance to drive for MavTV, Lucas Oil and Morgan Lucas Racing," Bernstein said. "It was a stressful holiday season, to be honest, as I accessed the limited opportunities out there. It wasn't much fun, until today.
"Racing with my dad was a dream come true and now I have a very unique chance to race with my second family – Forrest, Charlotte and Morgan Lucas. We raced with the Lucas Oil brand on our cars for many years and it's great to come back into the fold. I feel an immense amount of gratitude to them for giving me this chance."
Aside from MavTV and Lucas Oil, the car will be branded with ProtectTheHarvest.com. an initiative spearheaded by Forrest Lucas. More details on specifics of the various sponsorship arrangements are forthcoming, according to the team.
"Drag racing requires a lot of its drivers," said Lucas. "The part where you're actually driving the car is only a small piece of what it takes.
"Brandon has such a well-rounded vision of how to meet the demands of high-profile brands like MavTV, Lucas Oil, Toyota, GEICO and all the other companies that support Morgan Lucas Racing. He also knows how to interact with the media and the fans. He's a real pro and that was a big part of why he was selected. The fact we're longtime friends also was important. Brandon's a family man with strong values. He's the perfect choice to drive this car."
Bernstein says his longtime friendships with Morgan and Barlam is making the transition to his new team an easy one.
"I've known these guys a long time," the 39-year-old Bernstein said. "Morgan and me grew up out here together and I remember bugging Joe back when he was a crew guy on the McDonald's car. I was probably 14 years old at the time but he was always cool to me and we've remained in touch. It's a very comfortable feeling here.
"Joe and John have been working overtime with Morgan's crew chiefs (Aaron Brooks and Rod Centorbi) to make these two dragsters identical. We're going to take things to a new level this year."
Lucas and Bernstein will begin testing for the upcoming season on Jan. 16 at Palm Beach International Raceway in south Florida.