DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Whenever you get the chance to leave Northern Wisconsin for the opportunity to race in central Florida during the month of February, you don’t hesitate and try to make the most out of it. For Paige Decker, she also saw it as something unique and even overcame a mechanical problem to make it a great learning experience.
The 19-year-old UW-Stout student made her first trip to New Smyrna Speedway earlier this month to compete in the 47^th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. It was an opportunity to compete in her Super Late Model at a new track with a different style than the ones she competes at in Wisconsin. Last year, she gained experience racing at Marshfield Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Marshfield, WI on Saturday nights, State Park Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Wausau, WI on Thursday nights and Golden Sands Speedway in Plover, WI on Friday nights.
Decker had plenty of guidance with her visit to the half-mile oval in Samsula, FL. She had long-time driver Mark Kraus as her advisor and Toby Nuttleman as her crew chief.
To say it was a flawless visit would be an understatement. In fact, it didn’t take long for the fun to go away. Within ten laps of the first practice session on Thursday, February 14, she felt something wrong with her motor and brought it into the pits.
“We blew the motor four laps into our first practice session,” Decker said. “We are upset, but we are looking for another motor and hopefully get back in the car and figure this track out.
“I really had high hopes coming down here. We brought in Toby Nuttleman as a crew guy and that got me real excited,” Decker continued to say. “I heard so many stories about this track, that I was eager to give it a try. I had personal high hopes.”
Without having a backup motor in their hauler, the team started looking at different options. Some of those were to find a motor in the area, pack up and go home or get another motor from their shop in Eagle River, WI.
The decision was made to get another motor from the shop and have it driven down to Florida. The motor arrived late Saturday night and she was on the track Sunday afternoon.
Paige would be able to race three nights at New Smyrna before catching a 6am flight on Thursday morning to make it back to UW-Stout in time for a mandatory 2:30pm lab class that afternoon.
Once they were able to get on track, their focus was setup and her getting some seat time.
Over the three nights she competed in the 35-lap feature events, you could easily see the steady improvement. She finished 17^th on the third night, 14^th on night four, and 11^th on her last night.
She also was faster in qualifying each night where she qualified 21^st on her first night to 14^th on her second and 13^th on her final night.
“My overall experience with my first speedweeks down at New Smyrna was quite an adventure. We had a lot of ups and downs, however, we drove home to Wisconsin with all four fenders on the car and no damage,” Decker said. “Looking back, it was an exciting experience being able to rub fenders with some southern boys, along with all the exposure I got. I hope to attend the event again next year, maybe even with my little sister. I believe I represented Decker Racing well with the very little amount of track time I had down there, and that puts a smile on my face. A big thanks to all my sponsors, fans, and crew that made my first speedweeks a memorable one.”
She hopes that this will help her when she competes at the ASA Member Tracks this summer in central Wisconsin.
“I am really looking forward to this season as we will be running at the three tracks and some special events as well,” Decker announced. “I am really looking forward to running at Marshfield because I feel we have figured out that track. I am surprised when others come in and have a hard time adjusting to the half-mile oval.
“We are also looking forward to running at State Park Speedway. This track is a little more tricky so it will be fun to improve myself there.”
Paige is the oldest of three family members that race stock cars in central Wisconsin. Her 17-year-old sister Claire races drives Mid-American Stock cars, Super Stocks and Super Late Models while her cousin, 14-year-old Natalie, competes in Super Stocks and will be competing in the Midwest Truck Tour this summer. She was one of the youngest super stock competitors at the Snowball Derby this past December.
Her family also owns and operates the Derby Track in Eagle River, WI, home of the World Snowmobile Championships.
You can learn more about the Decker Racing Team by visiting www.deckerracing.net.
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