Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DARRELL GWYNN AND KENNY BERNSTEIN - TWO NHRA GREATS STILL GIVING THEIR ALL FOR THOSE IN NEED

Darrell Gwynn
http://darrellgwynnfoundation.org

DAVIE, Florida - Darrell Gwynn is a good guy. After contacting me last month to inquire whether St Lucie Appraisal would be interested in appraising NHRA great Kenny Bernstein’s entire automobile racing and memorabilia collection – most of it autographed - we have become good friends.

Entering the Darrell Gwynn Foundation’s facility in South Florida is like being among family. For anyone not familiar with Darrell, he currently operates his non-profit charity to help support people with paralysis and prevent spinal cord injuries. Most notably, the foundation operates a national Wheelchair Donation Program which donates custom power wheelchairs to individuals facing medical and financial hardships.

Darrell’s former pursuit was driving top-fuel dragsters for a living. Like Kenny, one of his cars bore the Budweiser insignia. He was born into the sport as his dad Jerry Gwynn was a hot-shot driver himself with many trophies and old automobile race car photos on his office walls to prove it. In fact, every hallway at the Darrell Gwynn Foundation is lined with memorable automobile racing photos, articles and collectible posters bringing you back to the eras during which the dangerous sport was born.

On Easter Sunday 1990, at Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire, England, Darrell was in a violent crash and fiery explosion that almost took his life. Everyone involved with automobile racing knows Darrell Gwynn’s name. Most of all, people I talk to express shock that he lived through that crash. But Darrell Gwynn has a huge heart which helped him to survive and now, although paralyzed himself, gives all of his strength and his resources to others who have suffered paralysis from spinal cord injuries by providing them with power wheelchairs which can cost up to $30,000.

Kenny Bernstein also drove dragsters and was sponsored by Anheuser Busch. Known for being the first to break the 300 MPH barrier which he did at Gainesville in 1992, he reminisced about Darrell. “Our relationship with Darrell and his family goes back decades,” said Bernstein. “We knew him as a teenager and remember him as our tall, lanky, mischievous Budweiser Top Fuel teammate in 1987 and 1988 when we were driving the Budweiser King Funny Car.”

Kenny’s generosity in donating his massive collection extends even further as he has made it known that his autograph-signing days are over, effectively making these the last items showcasing a world-class automobile racing career available to collectors and racing fans.

I had a blast appraising all of this stuff with the help of Darrell’s executive assistant Danielle, office manager Julie Gonzalez and NHRA aficionado Mike Goydos who flew down from Pennsylvania to lend a hand. It was fun not only because of its uniqueness but the sheer vastness of the collection and the amount of research required to properly appraise it allowed me to become intimate with an entire sport. It was my privilege to take a stroll down NHRA’s memory lane and meet this wonderful man and his family who have turned tragedy into triumph for the injured and for those in desperate need of wheelchairs.

One day, all of Kenny Bernstein’s funny car bodies, helmets, team shirts, photos, posters, trophies, tool boxes, furniture and other cool stuff will have been sold to collectors but the Darrell Gwynn Foundation will continue to sell donated cars and other automobile related items to provide for those in need.

Soon you will be able to purchase items from the Bernstein Collection at their website, www.darrellgwynnfoundation.org

Contact the Darrell Gwynn Foundation at (954) 792-7223 X 113.

P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400
Email: contact@stlucieappraisal.net

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Keywords for this article: Darrell Gwynn Foundation, Kenny Bernstein, NHRA, collectibles, charity, donate, appraise, tax-deductible, autographed, automobile, dragster, funny car, memorabilia, Budweiser, wheelchair, power, Florida, South Florida, St Lucie Appraisal, spinal cord injury, car 

Updated 08-29-2012
Updated 06-18-2013 Updated 01-21-2014