By Jim den Hollander
WisconsinRacer.com officially put its first month in the rear-view mirror when the March sheet was torn off the calendar.
Technically, stories went back to mid-February but the official launch of the site was March 1, 2019. In that first session, coverage has primarily been Wisconsin-based racers making a mark in bigger series with an earlier and warmer start to the schedule.
One name has come up frequently in that stretch.
Natalie Decker started out at both the ARCA and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races at Daytona Speedway in late February and since those events she has branched out into almost every type of four-wheel racing available.
She has taken part in a couple other Truck Series events and most recently did a two race weekend, starting at Vegas and ending up in a Corvette at the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli opener at Sebring.
Most recently, Decker completed her journey with the new W Series as one of the 28-driver short list that took part in final testing in Spain.
She missed out on the final cut of 18 who will move on to take part in a six-race schedule at some of Europe’s most prestigious and famous road courses.
Certainly disappointed, Decker made a huge impression and showed she is fine with stepping outside of her own comfort zone.
Taking part in testing with the Tatuus T-318 open wheel cars specifically made for this series, Decker was the lone entrant of the 28, whittled down from more than 100 applicants and an original group of 55 to come from a primarily oval track background.
Taking part in these tests against 27 female racers who were on an open-wheel career path would seem to leave Decker as a bit of an outsider and had to be considered a bit of a longshot going in against women mostly with extensive road racing and open wheel experience. She accepted the challenge and went in confident she could compete…and learn. She has done an amazing job of tackling new challenges so far.
For example, prior to making her second trek to Europe for the final cuts, Decker competed in the opening round of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli series and turned in a solid performance despite battling some major brake issues.
Now, I do not specially have a racing background, but I am thinking having a brake issue at Daytona or some of the other super speedways the NASCAR divisions visit would be annoying — again, no expert, but isn’t there more lifting as opposed to hard braking on these tracks – heading full speed around the flat Sebring road course that includes at least one hairpin turn would be a nightmare.
The only road I would want to tackle with bad brakes would be pit road. So, commentary aside, my point is, Decker seems to be the type of racer that wants to challenge herself and she has tried almost every type of four-wheel racing available early this season.
Decker is just one of several top notch young racers that I have become aware of in the first 31 days of my site that are making a name for themselves around the country. I look forward to getting a chance to seeing all of them when they race in state at some point this season.
This weekend will feature the much anticipated return of the Super Late Models to Wisconsin Tracks as the Alive For 5 Series kicks off it’s 2019 schedule with the Ice Breaker 100 at Dells Raceway Park. As of press time Tuesday, the opening race of the five-event schedule will feature an All-Star group of SLM racers from Wisconsin and three other states.
Ty Majeski topped the sheet last year and while the young Seymour racer has not entered the event, Dennis Prunty from Lomira will be back to defend his season title and many previous event winners will be in the field. More on that, including a list of the field entered so far, will appear in a future WisconsinRacer.com article.
- DRP will likely be the other Wisconsin track hosting a major event this weekend, but a few others will be opening their respective doors. Cedar Lake Speedway in Richmond will be opening its outdoor track Friday night and Saturday for racers and teams to begin prep for ‘The Legendary,’ a two-day season opening event that will take place the following weekend. Beaver Dam Raceway also has practice and tuning sessions scheduled for Saturday and Slinger Speedway has also scheduled an open day on Sunday with free general admission seating available.
- Several Wisconsin racers made their presence felt at national events for NASCAR divisions in Texas as well as California (NASCAR K&N Series West) and the Trans Am Series race weekend at Road Atlanta. This coming weekend the NASCAR and K&N series will join at Bristol. The K&N Series East will hold its second race, Derek Kraus of Stratford currently holding the series lead after winning the season opener at New Smyrna.
- For lovers of Motorcycle Racing, the Monster Energy Supercross will move into Nashville. Watching it may get the fans psyched for the AMA District 16 schedule that will begin the following weekend with Motocross, Enduro and Trials events at Aztalan, Goshen, IN and Mauston respectively.
That’s all I have for this week’s Notes, but get ready, the racing season is underway and within the next month it will be busting loose across the state.