The 36th annual Miller Lite Detjens Memorial Weekend hits State Park Speedway this Friday and Saturday night. The weekend is full of tons of racing action as well as fun filled activities for all ages.
The Big 8 Series returns to State Park Speedway and headlines the racing on Friday night. Known as the top Limited Late Model touring series in the Midwest, more than 20 cars will compete for 58 laps and a chance at a Detjens Memorial trophy. Over the past few years the side-by-side racing the Big 8 cars have put on has had fans on the edge of their seats.
“A few years ago we teamed up with the Big 8 Series to have them race on Friday night of Miller Lite Detjens weekend and it’s been such a great partnership,” said State Park Speedway Owner Scott Wimmer. “Those cars put on a good show and it also gives our local Limited Late Model drivers a chance to compete with the touring series drivers.”
The Professional Drywall Bandoleros, Motors Service and Supply Mini-Stocks and Snap-On Mini-Mods will also be on track Friday night.
Saturday night the racing action heats up with all support divisions running; Professional Drywall Bandoleros, Motors Service and Supple Mini-Stock, Snap-On Mini-Mods, Kreager Insurance Pure Stocks and Budweiser/Fabiano Brothers Limited Late Models.
Then, it’s the race fans have been waiting all year for, the 36th annual Newsline Nine Detjens Memorial 125. Over three decades, the list of race winners includes everyone from Dick Trickle, winner of the first ever Detjens Memorial, to names like Scott and Chris Wimmer, Tom Reffner and Tim and Johnny Sauter.
The Sauter family has dominated the Newsline Nine Detjens Memorial the last three years, with Tim winning back to back races in 2013 and 2014 and Johnny taking the checkers in 2015. While Johnny won’t be back to defend his win, there will be a litter of Sauters racing and looking to carry on their recent tradition. Tim looks to win his third event in four years, while both Jim Sauter Jr. and Travis Sauter race their first Newsline Nine Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway.
“I’ve watched a lot of races there the last few years and thought it might be fun,” said Travis Sauter. “Plus that strip of pavement in the pits really helps. It’s a tough track, way tougher than it looks. It takes a lot of discipline and if I’m even close to my dad (Tim) at the end, I will consider it a good night. He is really good there.”
Travis Sauter isn’t the only driver looking to add his name to the winner list for the first time. Current State Park Speedway Super Late Model point leader Natalie Decker has picked up a pair of wins in 2016, but a Detjens Memorial trophy would mean a lot to the young driver.
“Even though I wasn’t born when Larry Detjen’s lost his life in a racing accident I feel like I know him because I have the privilege to race with of all the racers, fans, friends and family that were a part of his life at my home track SPS,” said Decker. “He was a short track racer who was loved by everyone for his great personality and sportsmanship. It’s a very special night at SPS to honor Detjens at what was once his home track too. It would be a blessing to have my name on the trophy for the Larry Detjens Memorial.”
While some drivers look for their first Detjens Memorial win, Mark Mackesy looks to become the first driver to win four. Mackesy, a multi-time track champion, had wins in 1999, 2006 and 2012. Two weeks ago, the Wausau, Wisconsin native found Auto Select Victory Lane for the first time in two years, now he hopes to carry that momentum and make history at a race that holds special meaning for him and his family.
“The Detjens race is our Daytona 500,” said Mackesy. “My wife is Larry’s daughter. Larry and my Dad were good friends and he painted my dad’s first four race cars. His passing was a huge loss for my family and the whole racing community. It’s nice to have some momentum coming into the Detjens race. We started of the year with some electrical issues and didn’t get the results we wanted. Mike Gwidt, my crew chief, is an optimist and we kept digging!”
If all the racing excitement isn’t enough, there are plenty of other activities going on this weekend at State Park Speedway as well. On Friday and Saturday there will be a bounce house for kids as well as an RC car track for kids and adults to test their driving skills.
The third annual Miller Lite Detjens Memorial bean bag toss tournament takes place Saturday morning at 11am and the Speedway Bar will be open with Bloody Marys and a full bar to kick off the day.
After the racing ends on Saturday night, Kevin Moore will play live in the Speedway Bar, so make sure to stick around and check him out.
Fan gates open at 4:30pm on Friday with Fred Mueller Qualifying at 6:00pm and racing at 7:00pm. Saturday, fan gates open at 3:00pm with Fred Mueller Qualifying at 5:00pm and racing at 6:00pm.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: William Prutz