The 14th Flip Merwin Memorial Race hits the track this Thursday night at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin. The event, which began in 2003, pays tribute to the late Flip Merin, a world class snowmobile racer and former stock car racer who was killed at the World Championship Snowmobile Derby earlier that year.
“It’s such an honor to continue to host this race every year,” State Park Speedway Owner Scott Wimmer told Speed51.com. “Flip was a very close friend of mine, so when we purchased the track my dad and I wanted to be sure we kept it on the schedule. Every year it’s a special race for us and I’m glad we can be a part of it and help remember Flip.”
Mike Gajewski took the checkers in the 2017 edition of the Flip Merwin Memorial Race. Last year’s track champion looks to become the fourth driver to win the event for a second time. Mark Mackesy, Chris Weinkauf and Tim Sauter are the only others to do so.
“It was really special because it was the first memorial race I have ever won,” Gajewski said. “It will take a good, consistent car and a little luck to do it again.”
Meanwhile, other drivers looking to add their name to the list include veteran driver Jeff Storm and State Park Speedway regular Justin Mondeik. Storm has raced at the Wausau, WI track before, but never for the Flip Merwin Memorial and he’s never found victory lane. On the other hand, Mondeik currently sits second in SPS point standings and owns two wins so far this year.
“It’s a respect thing for Ralph Merwin and Ron Wimmer and their families,” Storm said. “I have run decent there in the past, but it’s been a couple of years. I also want to run the Detjens Memorial race, so this will be a good tune-up for that. I think the key to doing well at SPS is to keep your car turning really well and try not to grind the tires off early during the race.”
“It would be a great accomplishment for my team if we can win the Flip race,” said Mondeik, a member of the 2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program. “In my rookie season back in 2013 we won the Larry Detjens Memorial, so it would be great to take another memorial win home, especially with how the season has started for us. It’s a very good feeling knowing that we have won in both our cars there this season, so no matter what car we bring, I know we will have a good piece and be there at the end.”
“It’s always a really great event and brings more drivers to the track,” said State Park Speedway Owner Ron Wimmer. “A lot of guys in the racing community knew Flip and make the extra effort to get up here that night. It should be a fun night of racing.”
The Flip Merwin Memorial race takes place this Thursday night at State Park Speedway. Qualifying begins at 6:00 p.m. with racing at 7:00 p.m.
The Flip Merwin Memorial also kicks off Speed51.com’s Summer Thunder TV series, so fans who cannot make it to the track can watch the 75-lap event via a live broadcast on Speed51.com. All that is needed to watch is a monthly ($7.99) or yearly ($69.99) subscription to the Speed51 Network.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Fast Lap Photo