Race Fans, NHRA Drivers Raise $12,000 at Charity Karting Event in Sonoma
More than 35 lucky race fans mingled with stars from the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series on Saturday, and helped support a great cause at the 7th annual NHRA Tour de Charity at the Infineon Raceway Karting Center.
The event, which coupled race fans with top NHRA drivers for a day of karting on the raceway's challenging course, raised $12,000 for Speedway Children's Charities, bringing the seven-year total for the event to more than $72,000. More than 100 people overall attended the event.
Speedway Children's Charities, the charitable arm of Infineon Raceway, raises funds throughout the year for distribution to qualified youth organizations in Sonoma County. The charity has distributed more than $3 million since 2002.
NHRA drivers David Baca (Mach 1 Racing Top Fuel Dragster) and Rod Fuller swapped paint with the fans over the challenging road course. Hillary Will was also scheduled to attend, but was forced to bow out due to illness.
"My goal this year was to beat last year's time, and I got lucky. I would recommend this event to anyone," said Half Moon Bay's Carol Harrison, who has participated in the event the past two years with her husband, Skip. "We got connected with Speedway Children's Charities at a NASCAR event a few years ago and we really enjoy all these great events."
Baca took King of the Track honors among the NHRA drivers, turning the best lap over the 16-turn, three-quarter mile circuit at 1 minute, 1.909 seconds. The winners the first six years of this highly-competitive race have been Funny Car driver Ron Capps (2003, 2005, 2006-2007), Top Fueler Cory McClenathan (2004) and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Guidera (2008).
"This is a marvelous event," said Baca, a resident of nearby Brentwood. "It's always good to give back to the community, and I'm honored to have been invited back this year."
"I do a lot of charity events, but this is really one of my favorites," said Fuller. "It's a good thing I drive in a straight line for a living because this turning thing takes some getting used to."
The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School provided the karts, racesuits, classroom instruction and on-track pointers for all competitors. NHRA drivers were coupled with race fans during the day of racing, and they also signed autographs and donated memorabilia for a raffle.
Race fans also had their own private 10-lap feature race at the end of the day, with Martinez' Rocky Calabrese taking top honors at 56.489 seconds.