2016 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car champion Ron Capps will be the inaugural recipient of the Speedway Children’s Charities Eric Medlen Award during the 12th annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night Charity Dinner, July 26 at Viansa Sonoma, one of the most scenic wineries in the Sonoma Valley.
Sonoma Raceway and the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities have been honoring the memory of the late Eric Medlen since 2007, but 2018 marks in debut of the award, which annually will go to someone within the drag racing community who embodies Medlen’s best qualities and has shown support of charitable efforts.
Medlen, a native of Oakdale in the San Joaquin Valley, won the Funny Car championship for John Force Racing at his home track in Sonoma in 2006. In 2007, he succumbed to injuries sustained from a testing accident. He is fondly remembered by friends and family for his joyous spirit and outgoing personality, as well as his love for fun and supporting children.
Capps, a California native, is a long-time supporter of the Sonoma Chapter of SCC, including attending almost every NHRA Tour de Charity karting event and Eric Medlen Nitro Night event since their inceptions. Capps has also donated generous ticket and experience packages to support SCC’s fundraising efforts.
“It’s an unbelievable honor. Not just the fact that it’s the inaugural Eric Medlen Spirit Award, but the fact that it came from Steve Page and his group in Sonoma, and I consider them family,” said Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger Funny Car. “My dad took me there as a kid, and whenever someone asks me what my favorite race track is, it doesn’t take long for me to say Sonoma.
"Every year we get together with fans at the NHRA Tour de Charity karting event, and it sells out every year. We did it with Gary Scelzi and now with Jack Beckman, and it gives the fans a chance to donate to something worthy. We get to hang out with the fans and get close to them, and they get to contribute to something really special.”
The evening will feature a reception, sponsored by McDonald’s and Costa Organization, a delicious wine country dinner, a charity drawing, and special tributes to Medlen and Capps, as well as a Q&A hosted by emcee and 2012 NHRA Funny Car Champion Jack Beckman.
Hosted at Viansa Sonoma, which is less than five miles from the raceway, the scenic winery offers unparalleled 270-degree views of the Sonoma Valley. The raceway will also offer a free shuttle from the track to and from Viansa.
Tickets for the evening are $150 per person or $1,500 per table and include wine/beer and dinner. All proceeds benefit qualified youth groups in Sonoma County in Medlen’s name through SCC.
Nitro Night also serves as a kick-off to the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, July 27-29. For more information or to purchase tickets to the Eric Medlen Nitro Night Dinner, visit https://bit.ly/2KVucZJ.