Ben brings you the next week’s rundown of events and a shout-out to a student who races NASCAR when she’s not busy studying.
University of Wisconsin-Stout undergraduate student Paige Decker likes to drive fast. So fast, in fact, that she owns a race car and has competed in six races since January.
In March she made her first attempt to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. “I went through the whole qualifying process on track and did not qualify for the final,” she said.
Decker was eligible for the NASCAR event because of her prior car racing experience, which qualified her to race on a half-mile track, such as Martinsville.
In October, she tried again and qualified to become the first female to debut at the NASCAR Camping World Truck series at Martinsville. She finished 28th in the race and is “now approved to run mile tracks as well in the truck series,” she said.
A NASCAR race is “quite a different experience, because NASCAR is the highest level of stock car racing there is,” she said.
Her performance in the truck series was productive. “I got a lot of attention, gained experience with heavy body stock cars and earned some new fans,” Decker said.
In 2015, she also raced at the Golden Sands Speedway in Plover, where she placed third, and at the quarter-mile State Park Speedway in Wausau, placing fourth.
Unfortunately, while racing in the Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis., she got in a wreck on lap 16. She wasn’t injured however.
“We wear plenty of safety equipment,” she said. In fact everything she had, even down to her underwear, was fireproof.
Despite the dangers, she loves racing and “getting in that race car, strapping in and getting to feel that adrenaline rush every time I get on the track,” she said.
Decker, of Eagle River, first made a name for herself in 2013 as the first female rookie of the year in the Tundra Series at Golden Sands Speedway in Plover. Decker started in 10th place but didn’t stay there; she won. The series, based in the Midwest, is for super late model race cars.
“Not only was I the first female to receive the rookie honors, I was also the first female to win a race in the Tundra series,” Decker said.
The thrill of the race seems to run in the Decker family genes. As a youngster, Decker watched her father race snowmobiles and took on the sport herself at age three. She has been enamored with racing almost as long as she can remember.
By age 13 she had progressed to go-karts and at age 15 began racing with full-body stock cars.
Her sister also is a car racer. “We share a race car,” Decker said.
Decker has an 18-year-old female cousin who also is a racer.
Combining two loves, racing and teaching
Decker, majoring in early childhood education, chose UW-Stout because of its early childhood program and its proximity to race tracks where she competes. She can meet with her parents and racing crew on the weekends, she said.
“I have always loved kids and have babysat all my life,” Decker said. “I enjoy the excited look that the children get when they see you come into the classroom.”
She also looks forward to being a role model on the track and in the classroom.
Decker will graduate in December of 2016. In the future, she hopes to teach and continue competing in NASCAR events.
Although she has no set schedule yet for the 2016 racing season, she plans to continue racing super late models in the Midwest with her family-owned team. She also plans to race in February at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
To learn more about Decker, follow her on Facebook at Paige Decker Racing.