Wausau, WI — The 2020 Flip Merwin Memorial was both a milestone and a beginning for Justin Mondeik.
Mondeik posted the biggest win of his career to date last year with a victory in the event affectionately known at State Park Speedway as the ‘Flip race’, dominating the 100-lap Auto Select Super Late Model feature. It was only the beginning of a red-hot summer for the Gleason driver, who would score a host of big wins as well as track championships at State Park plus Golden Sands Speedway.
Mondeik is back to defend his crown Thursday night in the 18th annual Flip Merwin Memorial, which will highlight a loaded race program at the 1/4-mile racetrack in Rib Mountain. The Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks, Snap-on Mini Mods, Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks and Ropa’s Pizza Bandoleros will also be on hand to race, and the Pure Stocks, Mini Mods and Mini Stocks all will race double features including makeups of their main events rained out a week ago, making for eight feature races in all for the night.
Eighteen years have passed since the death of Philip (Flip) Merwin, a former snowmobile racer, pit crew member, race fan and stock car driver who was killed in a snowmobile racing accident in January 2003. Flip was a close friend of State Park Speedway owner Scott Wimmer and the Wimmer family. The race in his memory was established in 2003, quickly became one of the track’s signature events and continues to be today.
Mondeik became the 12th different driver to win the Merwin Memorial, leading the final 78 laps of 100-lap feature. He dominated once taking the lead on lap 23 and finished well ahead of 2016 Merwin winner and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Derek Kraus.
The win proved a launching pad for Mondeik, who would later win the ARCA Midwest Tour Larry Detjens Memorial at SPS in July and the TUNDRA race at the track in August. He also added a win in the prestigious Stateline Challenge at Norway (Mich.) Speedway, a TUNDRA win at Golden Sands and in all won 14 features in the breakout performance of the summer in super late model racing in Wisconsin.
“Winning the Flip Merwin Memorial last year was truly a breakthrough for our team, and set the stage for the most successful stretch of racing we’ve ever had,” said the 24-year old Mondeik. “Definitely a victory I will never forget. We are focused on winning a second-straight track championship at State Park Speedway, so any time you can win a race at the bullring, it bodes well for the points standings. But this one is different. Expect a full house and goosebumps during the invocation.
“Flip has meant that much to the Wisconsin racing community, where you can just feel that buzz and emotion on days like Thursday. We have some team members and friends who were very close to him, so we will be fighting hard for them–in Flip’s memory.”
Mondeik enters four points behind Wausau’s Brock Heinrich in State Park’s super late model point standings, and both already have feature wins at the track this year, including Mondeik last week just before rains canceled most of the race program.
Heinrich also has spoken in the past about just how much winning the Merwin race would mean. Heinrich’s car carries Merwin’s name above the passenger’s side window on his car, and his No. 52 is a tribute to Merwin’s No. 525 he used racing snowmobiles.
“To win the Flip Merwin Memorial is our ultimate goal,” said Heinrich last year. “It’s circled on the calendar as soon as the schedule comes out, and we know we have to be completely prepared and ready to rock when we unload on Thursday. It would mean the world to my family, my team, and I if we could pick up that victory in his honor. I’m sure it would be an emotional win as well. There is is no other race I would like to win more.”
Former Merwin winner Mark Mackesy also already has a feature win this season, and he’ll be in contention Thursday along with regulars such as Dillon Mackesy and Travis Volm. State Park’s 2018 super late model champion Luke Fenhaus of Wausau also is planning to make his first appearance of the season at the track. Fenhaus is racing regularly at Slinger Speedway this year and also won the Icebreaker 100 race at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells in April.
In addition to the hot competition for the Merwin super late model crown, Ashley Schoone of Gleason will be looking to extend her dominance of the race in the Mini Stocks. Schoone has won the feature in the class each of the last three years in the class in the Merwin Memorial.
Racing begins Thursday night with Fred Mueller Qualifying at 6 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. Pit gates open at 3 p.m. and fan gates open at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $8 for youth ages 6-12, with ages 5 and under free.
-State Park Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: TUNDRA