TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — What started as a way to honor Bernie Mann, a major figure in the Wabash Valley racing community, has now turned into a tradition.
As 180 cars congregated Saturday on the Wabash Valley Dragway, the Bernie Mann Memorial was a way to honor Bernie and also allow racers to hit the track.
The four Mann brothers said they have their father to thank for their love of racing. He took his sons to the dragway in 1975, and since then it’s become a family tradition to race.
Bernie was a long time drag racer who lost his battle to cancer in the late 1990s, but his children said they saw him as more than just a driver.
“He was what they call an innovator in this and he actually taught a lot of people the specifics in drag racing and stuff, especially bracket racing,” Troy Mann said.
Over the weekend there are four divisional races including the junior division. Haiden Smith from Terre Haute got her first win and said she was excited as she headed into the next round.
“I was really excited because I saw my dad. He was on the moped and he was driving up. He was going yes,” Haiden Smith said. “So immediately I was like ‘oh my goodness’. I just won for the first time and that’s so exciting.”
For Haiden’s dad, he said he was more nervous than she was but he knew Haiden would do well.
“Since junior dragsters in 2000 and that’s when I started doing this,” Jacob Smith said. “Her aunt and uncle have been racing them. That’s actually her aunt Jessica’s car that she’s been driving.”
The Mann brothers said they hope they can continue to build upon their fathers legacy in the valley.
“We really love it that they honor our father every year and we hope this race continues, until we’re done with the sport or whatever but we just try to carry on his name and do the best job driving here we can,” Thad Mann said.
The long distance ward was given to a driver from Idaho who came from the across the country to take part in this weekend.