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Sat, 3 Nov 2007, 01:40 PM

Artist Hinds, Manufacturer Thermos present Medlen Tribute
Courtesy of Dave Densmore

POMONA, Calif. -

On Friday, during the 43rd annual Automobile Club of Southern California Finals, John Medlen, manager of ongoing safety initiatives for John Force Racing, Inc., accepted a special multi-image portrait of his son, Eric, commissioned for him by parts manufacturer Mike Thermos.

Eric Medlen, one of the rising stars of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the first of JFR's Next Generation drivers, succumbed last March to injuries suffered in a Funny Car testing accident at Gainesville, Fla.

The portrait study, by artist Paul Hinds, is entitled "Full of Life" and, according to Thermos, the founder of NOS (Nitrous Oxide Systems) and president of Nitrous Supply, Inc., was created to honor the memory of a driver, family and team that has been an inspiration to the entire drag racing community.

In addition to his work in race car safety, John Medlen is an accomplished crew chief who won the 2003 NHRA championship with driver Tony Pedregon and who, with his son driving the Castrol SYNTEC Ford Mustang, won six times in three years and never finished outside the Top 5 in the NHRA Funny Car standings.

Medlen presently is crew chief to rookie driver Mike Neff, who this weekend is trying to qualify for his second race at the wheel of a second Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, companion to the Mustang driven by Rookie-of-the-Year contender Ashley Force.

Hines' other portrait subjects in drag racing include Force, the 14-time Funny Car Champion presently recovering from injuries suffered in a Sept. 23rd crash in Dallas, Texas, and multi-time World Champions Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein.

To accurately reproduce the colors in Medlen's uniform, Hinds used a combination of oil stains, pencil and art marker.

The painting was the second major tribute to Medlen during the final weekend of the 2007 season. On Thursday, he was named the first winner of the Mike Aiello Spirit of Drag Racing award presented by 1320 TV.

Named for the late motorsports photographer, the award is presented for contributions to the sport. Funny Car driver Jack Beckman, a close friend of Aiello's, made the presentation on behalf of Susan Wade of 1320 TV.

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