BY MATT MUNOZ Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
NASCAR racing champ Kevin Harvick knows how to throw a party. Since collecting his 19th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the AdvoCare 500 in Phoenix earlier this month, the Bakersfield native has been on a whirlwind of press tours across the country with racing enthusiasts following his every move.
Now he's ready to pull the brakes for a quick return to his old stomping grounds to celebrate his 37th birthday a week early with a big concert fundraiser featuring country singer Craig Morgan at the Fox Theater on Saturday.
The charity event, which benefits the Kevin Harvick Foundation established two years ago by Harvick and wife DeLana, will also feature a special appearance by country singer Bridgette Tatum. According to Harvick's website, the foundation provides scholarships as well as supports youth sports programs in underprivileged communities.
"The foundation has had a lot of success in 2012, but I think the one event that stands out the most was the North High event we did last month," wrote Harvick in an email interview. Harvick visited Bakersfield Nov. 7 to hand out a $11,000 in scholarships and present new uniforms to the wrestling team at his alma mater.
"Having the opportunity to help four students with college scholarships, as well giving the wrestling program a new look when it comes to uniforms and travel apparel means a lot."
In addition to setting up an athletic scholarship program at CSUB and assisting the North High wrestling program, Harvick's Foundation has also worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Las Vegas Camper Cabin at Victory Junction, the holiday Christmas For Kids gift program and more. Harvick said the response to the foundation has been overwhelming.
"We have had a lot of positive support from both the NASCAR community as well as the local Bakersfield community."
Harvick also attributed much of its ongoing growth and success to his wife, whose direct involvement has proved to be invaluable while he's on the racing circuit.
"DeLana has been a big part of help getting the foundation started as well as where it is today."
Saturday's concert headliner Craig Morgan is a best-selling country entertainer whose latest album, "This Ole Boy," spawned three singles. Like Harvick, Morgan is known for giving back, actively bringing attention to programs in support of U.S. troops and their families.
"Craig has some great music and we are very fortunate that he was willing to come out and perform. We looked at a few different artists, but Craig seemed like the best fit for what we were looking to bring to the Fox Theater."
For adults wanting to feel a bit like celebrities themselves, there is a VIP package, which includes entrance to a pre-party (5 p.m.) and the VIP after party, both at the Padre Hotel. Tickets cost $129, plus fees.
Affectionately nicknamed "Happy Harvick" for his temper outbursts on the tracks, NASCAR racing's esteemed birthday boy anticipates a wildly festive night for his birthday and looks forward to seeing old friends and fans as he toasts to another successful year on and off the track.
"Thank you to all my fans in the Bakersfield area that have supported not only myself, but the Kevin Harvick Foundation as well. It is going to be a great concert and a lot of fun."