When you’re 21 years old and have nearly 22,000 followers on Twitter like Natalie Decker, there’s typically good reason for it. After all, she hails from a state known for prominent racers in stock car land like the late Dick Trickle, the Sauter clan (Jim, Tim, Johnny, and Jay), our friend Josh Bilicki, Ty Majeski, Matt Kenseth, and Alan Kulwicki.
Certainly, Decker has a true passion for racing, as she felt her first need for speed at age nine. With this in mind, this ARCA rookie’s determination has paid off as she races for one of the series’ most premier teams in Venturini Motorsports.
With this in mind, Decker looks to create her own legacy not only as a female stock car racer, but as a talented prowess on the track. Consider that she scored the pole at the season opener at Daytona and sits seventh in points after 13 races.
In due time, Decker could be a force to be reckoned with in the future, as she makes it a point to connect with fans at the track or social media. Granted, she’s steadily climbing up the stock car ladder towards NASCAR, but there’s much promise with her abilities behind the wheel.
Friendly, thoughtful, and lighthearted off the track, I caught up with Decker to talk about her efforts this year and her perspective with her journey in racing. For the most part, there’s no trace of an ego, but more of an authentic excitement. Indeed, there’s a sense of appreciation with being one of the top young motorsports talents in a stock car.
Ultimately, the best person to share Decker’s story is our focus interviewee herself! In that case, let’s start “Dropping the Hammer with Natalie Decker” here on The Podium Finish!
Rob Tiongson : In your first full season in ARCA, you’ve scored a pair of top-fives (Daytona and Elko) and five top-10’s after 13 races. What’s encouraged you so far with your races? And what’s your focus in these final seven events of 2018?
Natalie Decker : I’m so thankful to be running the ARCA series with Venturini. It’s a great series and amazing drivers. I always just focus on the next race and the next race is Berlin. It’s another short track and I love short tracks.
RT : You’re racing with one of the most legendary stock car teams in Venturini Motorsports. How’s it been like to be one of the newest racers for this organization and experience their culture?
ND : Venturini is an amazing team. I love racing for this team. They are great people and care about everyone.
RT : Wisconsin seems to breed some of NASCAR’s most illustrious racers like the late Alan Kulwicki and Matt Kenseth. For fans new to the sport, how passionate is the Midwest and Wisconsin when it comes to racing in the local and national series levels?
ND : Wisconsin is where I grew up and I’m so happy I did. Short track racing is very big and very competitive in the Midwest. I learned so much racing all over Wisconsin and in the Midwest. And like you said, Wisconsin has some big names that raced in NASCAR.
RT : Various NASCAR veterans have pointed out to the great disconnect between local home track races and major stock car or open wheel series. What’s some of the benefits for fans with attending a local short or dirt track race and watching new racers living out their dreams?
ND : Going to a local short track just to watch or even race is one of the best things. First, nothing is better than watching a good short track race. And second, you have young kids tryin’ to learn and make a name for themselves all the way through the older guys who have been racing there for years.
It’s great racing and great people. I loved racing my super late weekly at short tracks all over Wisconsin. Everyone racing at all these short tracks are one big family.
RT : You’ve made social media one of your primary emphasis to connect with fans. With that in mind, has it been humbling to see your followers and fan count increase in recent years, be it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?
ND : Social media is so wonderful for so many different reasons. It’s the easiest way to connect with fans all over the world. And it’s a way to promote yourself and show your life to your fans outside of racing. It’s a way to tell your story.
RT : Earlier this season, Brennan Poole pinched hit for you at Pocono. What’s some of the things that you learned from him not only with The Tricky Triangle, but also with his approach as a racer?
ND : Having Brennan race my car at Pocono while I was recovering from hernia surgery was awesome and not awesome. (laughs) I wished I could have raced, but it was so great that he could do it because I learned so much from not just for when I go back to Pocono, but just how to prepare and study for the next race track.
RT : During your childhood, you begged your father for a go kart. Would you say that took some persuasion considering the risks and dangers with this sport?
ND : My dad raced his whole life. He knew what racing was all about, and how much time and money it took to be competitive. I start asking for a go kart around age seven and he didn’t get me one until my ninth birthday.
He owns a snowmobile race track, but as far as actually racing, we sold all his stuff and thought he would be all done once he had kids. (laughs) But once he got me a go kart, it wasn’t too long until it became a big family thing as my brother and two cousins were all racing every weekend with me.
RT : We’ve seen more women earning their opportunities in the world of racing like yourself and in the pits like Breanna O’Leary and Brehanna Daniels. How amazing and inspirational is it to see the sport embrace diversity and show that it welcomes all to be a part of NASCAR or ARCA?
ND : It’s so wonderful seeing all the women in racing, NASCAR and ARCA. But what is also inspirational is the young girls coming up in the sport there are so many girls racing Bandoleros, legend cars, dirt cars, and late models. There are so many girls who come up in the sport and that makes me so happy!
RT : I’ve got to ask you about Lionel Racing’s offering of your No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota in 1/24 and 1/64 scale. Firstly, did you ever imagine seeing one of your rides replicated as a die-cast car? Do you plan to order one of these cars and display them at home or in your office?
ND : I was very excited when I heard that this was happening. I have a 1/24 at my house and I love it! I’m so excited for all my fans that get to order them and have them at their house. I hope that some young kids get the 1/24 and get to play with it with all their other little race cars they have.
RT : When you have downtime, what’s some of your favorite shows to watch on TV or an online streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?
ND : I love Netflix! Recently, every night, I’ve been falling asleep to fun baking shows. But the shows I really like to watch are usually crime and mystery shows/movies. I also love going to the movie theater!
RT : You’re a talented racer and know how to connect and resonate with people in a positive light. What’s one of your hidden talents that may surprise fans?
ND : I lived on a lake in Eagle River. Every day, all day in the summer, we would waterski for fun.
RT : If there’s a song in any genre that best described you as a person and a racer, what would it be? Why does it best represent you?
ND : I don’t know if there is a song I like right now that represents me as a racer. But the music I usually love listening to is oldies. (laughs)
Special thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share her story on The Podium Finish! If you’d like to learn more about her and her racing efforts, “Follow” her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook, and “Visit” her official website!