Corrie Valdez/The Madera Tribune
From left, upper bleachers, Matthew Lopez, Daniela Moncada, Nathan Cotton. Bottom row, from left, Richard Cotton, Christine Kuo, Ruben Moncada, and Obdulia Moncada.
The final race of the season at Madera Speedway came to a close in a big way recently. The event brought out race-goers to watch Toyota Sedans, Southwest trucks, barrel racing, a costume contest, a trick or treat event, and the 7th annual Pumpkin Smash.
Traveling from West Jordan, Utah, The Purple Heart racing team also was part of the show. They brought their truck to honor Madera’s Gold Star Family, that of Army Sgt. Raul Moncada, who was killed in action on April 13, 2009.
The family of Sgt. Moncada arrived early to spend some time in the pit with the Purple Heart racing team truck, which was decorated to honor their family member.
Also being honored was the “Blue Star” family of U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Peter Valdez, who is on active duty at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. “We are very humbled by this honor,” said Corrie Valdez, mother of Sgt. Valdez, whose father, Vito, who also was in attendance, is a former Marine.
Darren Jones, owner of Purple Heart Racing Team, which was established in 2007, retired from the Army as a staff sergeant. Jones comes from a lineage of family members that served in the military, he said.
Jones has raced cars for 30 years. Today his son, Parker Jones drives the Purple Heart racing team Chevy truck. Recently, Parker received a Rookie of the year award and was voted by his peer drivers as “most improved driver.”
The Jones family travels to various cities throughout the country, honoring Gold Star Families and Blue Star Families.
“It’s our way of telling a Gold Star family their loved one will not be forgotten. It is also a way to remind race fans that the freedoms we enjoy are not free.”