13th annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night Charity Dinner to Honor Jack Beckman, July 25
Sonoma Raceway and the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children's Charities (SCC) will continue to honor the spirit of the late Eric Medlen at the 13th annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night Charity Dinner on Thursday, July 25.
This memorable evening has kicked off the NHRA Sonoma Nationals drag racing weekend and honored Medlen's memory since 2007.
Beginning in 2018, the annual event has honored someone within the drag racing community who embodies Medlen's spirit and has shown support of charitable efforts. Last year's inaugural recipient of the SCC Eric Medlen Award was 2016 NHRA Funny Car Champion Ron Capps.
The 2019 recipient of the Eric Medlen Award is 2012 NHRA Funny Car Champion Jack Beckman. Beckman 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; Beckman even emceed Nitro Night for the past several years. Beckman's charitable efforts extend to his role as an ambassador for the Infinite Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization that combats the most difficult front-line issues - mental and physical - facing returning military heroes and their families. Beckman, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant, pilots the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge.
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.
"I've been honored to emcee 'Eric's Night' for many years, and it's always exciting to reminisce about Eric, spend time with his friends and family, and know that we're raising money to help kids through Speedway Children's Charities, something Eric would have loved," said Beckman. "Now, to be recognized with the Eric Medlen Award, well that's just hard to wrap my head around. I'm really humbled by this, and I'm also extremely excited to turn the mic back over to Bob Frey, the man who began emceeing these events, a great friend, and someone I have looked up to for more than 30 years."
In honor of his recognition, Beckman will turn over hosting duties to long-time NHRA announcer Bob Frey, who hosted the first several years of the event. Frey will return to Sonoma Raceway as part of the track's 50th anniversary celebration, including hosting Nitro Night. In addition to Frey, other NHRA drivers are also expected to attend, including Capps, Scott Pollacheck and two-time Sonoma Funny Car winner JR Todd.
The evening at nearby Viansa Sonoma will feature a reception, sponsored by McDonald's and Costa Organization, delicious wine country dinner, a charity drawing and special tributes to Medlen and Beckman. The scenic winery offers unparalleled views of the Sonoma Valley, and the raceway will offer a free shuttle from the track to and from Viansa Sonoma.
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 NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, July 26-28. This year's event marks the series' 32nd annual visit to the Sonoma Valley and will feature professional competition in the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes.