On a night filled with stories, memories and highlights about the late Eric Medlen, over $65,000 was raised Thursday through a charity karting event at the Sonoma Raceway Karting Center, donations and an animated live auction for the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
Last year Maynard Ashley Racing team owner Dustin Davis along with Justin Ashley and Antron Brown, made the commitment to reboot a special charity dinner in honor of Eric Medlen. After a golf tournament and dinner at the Santa Rosa Country Club, $48,500 was raised thanks to support from primary event sponsors Phillips Connect, Nordby Signature Homes, Lucas Oil, Matco Tools and the efforts of Davis, Ashley and Brown. The donation amount was rounded up by Phillips Connect vice president Jim Epler to $50,000 in a surprise announcement during the opening ceremonies. Yesterday during the opening ceremonies of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Epler along with Justin Ashley, presented a check to Courtney Kiser representing the $69,000 raised on Thursday.
“Last year was so amazing and this year exceeded all our expectations. The support and donations we received in honor of Eric Medlen are going to make a tremendous impact for local families in need,” said Courtney Kiser, Director of Speedway Children’s Charities Sonoma. “Eric was such a special person, and it was so heartwarming to celebrate his legacy here at Sonoma Raceway in Turn 11. We had a packed house at the Nitro Night dinner, and the support for the Sonoma community is so appreciated.”
Medlen, a native of Oakdale in the San Joaquin Valley, won the Funny Car title 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.
“Seeing this event take off this year really means a lot to me, everyone on our team and in the NHRA community,” said Justin Ashley, driver of the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster. “Thanks to Phillips Connect, Dustin Davis, Antron and so many drivers like Ron Capps, Chad Green, Austin Prock and Angelle Sampey we had a great afternoon karting and celebrating Eric at the Nitro Night Dinner.”
The karting event and charity dinner were one of many events lined up to kick-off to the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, July 28-30. This year’s event marks the series’ 36th visit to the Sonoma Valley and will feature professional competition in the Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes.