Race fans are invited to enjoy a festive evening with NHRA racers, all in the name of charity, at the 9th annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night Charity Dinner at Bay Club Stone Tree on Thursday, July 30.

In addition to raising funds for Speedway Children's Charities (SCC), the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway, the evening is dedicated to the memory of Oakdale's Eric Medlen. Medlen, a native of 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.

A number of popular NHRA personalities have been confirmed for the evening, including:

  • Jack Beckman (Valvoline Dodge)
  • Ron Capps (Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger)
  • Richie Crampton (GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster)
  • Larry Dixon (C&J Energy Services dragster)
  • Ashley Force (John Force Racing)
  • Brittany Force (Monster Energy Dragster)
  • Courtney Force (Traxxas Radio Control Cars Camaro)
  • Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Bike)
  • J.R. Todd (Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts dragster

The racers will kick off the evening with an invitational Texas Hold 'Em Charity Poker Tournament, presented by McDonald's and the Costa Organization, starting at 6 p.m. The evening will also feature a reception, sponsored by First Republic Bank, a delicious prime rib dinner, charity drawing and a Q&A with all of the racers.

The event will be hosted at Bay Club Stone Tree, which is less than five miles from the raceway in Novato, providing easy access for fans and race teams. The raceway has also added a free shuttle for campers to/from the event.

Tickets for the evening are $125, and include wine/beer and dinner.  All proceeds go to qualified youth groups in Sonoma County in Medlen's name through SCC.

The event, which has been sold-out each of the last eight years, typically boasts a healthy contingent from Eric's hometown of Oakdale, including his mother, Mimi, and his father, John.

Nitro Night also serves as a kick-off to the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, July 31-Aug. 2.  This year's event marks the series' 28th annual visit to the Sonoma Valley and will feature professional competition in the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes.

For more information, visit racesonoma.com or for tickets to the Eric Medlen Nitro Night Dinner, contact Cheri Plattner at 707-933-3950 or cplattner@racesonoma.com.