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DRO: How about the TV package you lobbied so hard for? Are you satisfied with how it's progressing and what it's doing for the growth of the sport?

KB: I've said this many times, but one thing that's a little wrong with our sport is that we have so many professional classes. So it's not like talking about one. I don't see that changing, but that creates a little problem for a Sportscenter. . . . We're getting some (added TV exposure). But with POWERade and ESPN taking it to those next levels, in a couple of years, it'll force people to have to report on it. NASCAR, you never saw it before it got big. But now you see it everywhere, because they went to the stratosphere. That's what happens. The news shows and sports shows got forced to cover it because it got that big. Will we ever get that big? No. But we can get big enough to be covered better than we are.

Bernstein announced the 2002 Forever Red Tour at last year's World Finals. (Tim Marshall photo)

DRO: How are you regarding this Forever Red Farewell Tour? You're not a sentimental guy.

KB: Not at all. For the fans and the sponsors, I'm proud to do it. Am I dreading doing it, other than that? Probably so. Would I rather just walk away? Absolutely -- and said, "Thank you for everything. See you later." The fans wanted it, the sponsors wanted it, and we owe it to them. We're proud, and we'll do it with the feeling we want to be there. But it wouldn't have bothered me if I walked away. Let me tell you something: I wouldn't have done it if we were still struggling, if we were a fifth- or sixth-place team.

DRO: That's not how you envisioned leaving the sport in which you had been so successful.

KB: The only reason I even kept going those past two years is I couldn't let myself walk away with people thinking I couldn't get it done. I just couldn't live with that. And I'd have to live with that the rest if my life. And you know me as a competitor. I'm not going to be happy unless I'm right there with it. I just couldn't walk away. I thought about it a lot. I got so frustrated I said, "Ah, that's enough. We've accomplished a lot. It's been great." But I always came back and said to myself, "Yeah, but the last two or three years, it hasn't been so hot. And that's what people are going to remember."

DRO: That's what seemed unhealthy about Don Garlits coming back to try to race last season. Maybe the proper word isn't "pathetic" --



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