BROOKLYN, MI – Former University of Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson took a break on Sunday from his role as adviser to Athletic Director Warde Manuel.
That break included a 100 mph pace car ride around Michigan International Speedway, as Berenson serves as the grand marshal for the Pure Michigan 400.
Ignoring the new “retired” label, the coach has various duties with the role, including giving the “driver’s start your engines” command. He’ll make the call around 3:07 p.m. on Sunday on NBCSN.
“When we got our ride in the pace car, that was an eye opener as to what we can expect with this race,” Berenson said. “We were going over 100 mph and I could feel myself hanging on. I can’t imagine what it’s like going 200 mph with 35 other cars trying to beat you.”
The 77-year-old has never been to a NASCAR race before, but has visited MIS in the past.
Berenson talked about his role with the university and his thoughts on incoming coach Mel Pearson at the track Sunday afternoon. His main project as an adviser is endowing all hockey scholarships, which he said is roughly $800,000 a year.
The goal is to have all sports endowed at Michigan, Berenson, with hockey being the first.
Berenson and Pearson have a history together, as the new coach served as an assistant under Berenson for 25 years before going to coach at Michigan Tech. Pearson is currently making the transition of moving from Houghton to Ann Arbor and getting to know the team, Berenson said.
“I think I’ve left Mel a good team,” Berenson said. “We should be a much better team than we were last year.”
Michigan went 13-19-3 in 2016-17, with a young squad. Berenson finished his career 848-426-92, coaching the Wolverines for 33 years and winning two national championships. His 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances is a college hockey record.