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August 31, 2021 - Bryan Bernheisel Embraces His Return to Racing After Injury Recovery
Bryan Bernheisel had to wait impatiently for almost five months to return to the driver’s seat of his Bernheisel Race Components No. 119 Dieffenbach’s Lazer Chassis Late Model following injuries sustained in a vicious late March wreck at Williams Grove Speedway.

However, a little over a week ago, he made his unannounced return during a World of Outlaws (WoO) Morton Buildings Late Model Series event at New York’s Orange County Fair Speedway. Impressively, Bernheisel set fast time during qualifications and then, despite not yet being conditioned to driving again, managed to race to a Top-10 finish in the night’s feature.

While he didn’t seem to miss a beat in his return to the driver’s seat, Bernheisel was admittedly nervous.

“I was very nervous, especially with the Outlaws’ series regulars being in attendance. I was almost looking for any good reason not to race and just load my car back up even before the night started. While I was always given the option to pull in if I felt uncomfortable, I didn't want to be viewed as a ‘quitter’ regardless of what the circumstances were (coming back from an injury),” Bernheisel shared. “In time trials and the heat race I had a bit of PTSD and was not a fan of bouncing through the holes on the choppy racetrack.”

Again though, his nervousness in the driver’s seat were not reflected in his results that even surprised the Pennsylvania racer himself.

“I was very much surprised at how well the night went. In addition to the obvious situation, Orange County (Fair Speedway) was also a track I'd never been to before, so it was a massive learning curve. I felt predictably slow in hot laps, but my crew chief, Brandon (Bernheisel), informed me I was 8th out of 22 cars - better than I anticipated or felt. Then when I set fast time, I was stunned,” Bernheisel admitted. “When dealing with either Lucas Oil or World of Outlaws drivers, more often than not you're going to get beat. But to out-time them on my first race back in five months? It was totally unexpected.”

While he’s still getting back up to speed physically behind the wheel, Bryan has set the bar high for his upcoming events, which include races at Bedford (Pa.) Speedway and Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway this Friday and Sunday as well as a September 11 stop at Lincoln (Pa.) Speedway.

“For all three races in general, I have the very lofty goal of wanting to pick up a win before the year is over. It's probably unlikely, but it would be so cool to come back from a serious injury and still snag a win. I still have a long way to go in rebuilding my strength and stamina though, not to mention some racing rust to knock off, so I'm also trying to temper my expectations,” Bernheisel noted.

He concluded by saying, “For Bedford in particular, I'd like to get my revenge on that track. I had last year's Labor Day 55 in the bag when the right front suspension broke. That would have been my biggest win ever by far ($7,055), and it still disappoints me that we let that one slip away.”

As Bernheisel prepares to tackle the Zimmer’s United Late Model Series events in his home state this weekend, he again thanks everyone for their support throughout the past several months.

“From fans to drivers to sponsors to the media, everybody has just been amazing. It definitely wasn’t an easy time, but having so many people showing support for you… that’s just something I’ll never forget,” he said.