It hasn’t been the best of seasons thus far for former Super Stock champion Johnny Bedingfield, but one can bet he will be smiling a lot come Saturday night at Kern County Raceway.
For the fourth straight year, Bedingfield is spearheading a fundraising event where all of the money raised goes to help local families.
Just over four years ago Bedingfield was told about a young boy, Brayden Eidenshink, who was in need of a heart transplant and wanted to go to the track, be in the pits and sit in a race car.
“We stepped it up when we heard about his story, I thought we just needed to do more,” said Bedingfield.
So that night Brayden got the royal treatment and money was raised to help his family.
Last year Bedingfield wanted to raise money to help the family of Mia Sparks, who was undergoing treatment for childhood cancer.
“They told me absolutely not, to do it for the local organizations that help out,” Bedingfield said.
Thus #MIASTRONG night was born and nearly $25,000 was raised for the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House and Second Star to the Right.
Saturday will bring about the second #MIASTRONG night at the track.
“I’m staying with the childhood cancer thing,” Bedingfield said. “The impact (the two charities) have on families with children going through this is amazing. I could not imagine going through that.”
Mia Strong’s story is a positive one as the 5-year-old is in remission.
“She went through seven surgeries, it’s pretty crazy,” Bedingfield said.
The goal this year is to raise even more money.
“We’ve already sold out (10) suites and we have more raffle and silent auction items than ever,” he said.
Bedingfield said Trinity Safety Company is one of the biggest sponsors of the night, noting that owner Chris Branson “goes above and beyond every year. Last year he donated a Kevin Harvick driving suit and bought it back for $2,000. All of that money went to the charities.”
It will be a busy night of racing with Late Model twin features, Super Stocks, Spec Mods and twin Legends races.
And while Bedingfield would like to come away with a better on-track result that he has so far this season (a best finish of sixth), he just really wants to see lots of fans in the stands.
“The only thing I want on Saturday is to see a big crowd,” he said.
Racing starts at 6.
USAC Midgets at Speedway
The USAC Western States Midget Series rolls into Bakersfield Speedway on Saturday night with Bakersfield racers Cory Elliott and Shannon McQueen in the thick of the points race and each looking for their first win of the season.
Alex Schutte leads Elliott by five points with former series champion McQueen 11 points behind Elliott.
Also in action will be IMCA Modifieds, American Stocks, Lightning Sprints, Mini Mods and Mini Dwarfs.
Robby Sawyer is atop the IMCA Modified points race, six points ahead of Brad Pounds in what is shaping up to be a two-driver battle for the championship.
Three-time winner Brandon Ratcliff has opened up a large points lead in the American Stock division.
Racing starts at 6.
Locals shine in Summit Series
Manny Taylor capped off a weekend of racing at Auto Club Famoso Raceway on Sunday by winning the motorcycle bracket in race No. 6 of the NHRA Summit Racing Series. It was the second win of the year for Taylor, who has opened a large lead in the championship race.
Jody George beat Vincent Hudson in an all-Bakersfield Sportsman final on Saturday; Bakersfield’s Robert Mallory won in motorcycle on Saturday and Joe Gyselinck of Bakersfield was runner-up in the Super Pro competition. Bakersfield’s Greg Dreher was runner-up in Super Pro on Sunday.
A Saturday Night Street Tuner event for street-legal cars takes place this Saturday night. Gates open at 7 p.m with the track open for timed runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Derek Thorn of Bakersfield took the lead on lap 136 and went on to his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory of the season last Saturday night in the NAPA Auto Parts 175 at Colorado National Speedway. It was a 1-2-3 finish for the Bob Bruncati racing team with Ryan Partridge second and Trevor Huddleston third. Thorn, who started the season with three straight runner-up finishes, moved two points ahead of Partridge in the championship race.
Eric Schmidt of Roseville raced to a Spears Southwest Tour victory last Saturday night at Irwindale Event Center. It was the first victory for the former series champion since 2006. Ricky Schlick was second and Jeremy Doss third.