Written by Adrian Beecher
The W-Series is a new racing series that aims to even the playing field for female drivers, giving them opportunities for testing and training never before offered.
Their site reads, “Talent does not have a gender. We believe anyone with skill, passion, and commitment should have a chance to race at the pinnacle of motorsport, and W Series will create those chances, open doors and fuel our future.”
This is the 2nd time that Decker will head overseas for the W-Series, with the first time being in Austria. This time she heads to Spain for 5 days, 4 of those being test days with a rest day split in between them.
“So we have two days of testing, an off day, and then two more days of testing. I believe they are just giving us that off days because it is going to be very intense and long days, that’s how it was in Austria. So I believe it will be the same in Spain.”
Over the last week and heading into this week, Decker has been and will remain in full prep mode for the trip, where she described her most important parts about the preparation:
“Being physically and mentally ready is a big thing.” said Decker after her race in Vegas, “And then obviously trying to get into an F3 Car, beforehand. Just so, I’ve never driven anything like that before and I drive big heavy stock cars nothing open wheeled, single seat, nothing like that. So to be able to get in a test I feel like that will help me a lot. But I’m definitely going to study so much and learn as much as I can about an F3 car because I don’t know anything about them, so my next two weeks are going to be study, study, study.”
And study she has. In fact, last Thursday, Decker had the opportunity to test drive the F3 car for the first time out at Virginia International Raceway.
Trying new things for a lot of people strikes excitement and a sense of nervousness. Natalie Decker has a bit of that nervousness as she finalizes her prep, but it doesn’t have anything to do with getting behind the wheel of a new machine.
“The biggest thing I’m kind of scared of is traveling overseas. I’ve only been overseas a couple of times. I don’t know how people do it a lot for work or whatever they do. It’s really hard. Especially with the time difference to get over there and get in a race car right away and to be at your 100 percent.”
Despite the overseas travel being a worry, that doesn’t seem to be the biggest challenge in the W-Series. What make’s the journey is the people you meet along the way, and that is one of the toughest things about competing for a spot in the W-Series.
“Yeah, that’s the sad part about it. You’re all competing for the seat and not all of you are going to make it and get the same opportunity. But to be able to be with all of these amazing females that are so amazing at driving and have so many cool stories and grow up very similar.” Says Decker, “You know we all grow up very similar, and go through the same struggles. All our stories kind of connect and it’s really cool to just hang out and share everything. And we all inspire each other to do better.”
When they were over in Austria for the first series of testing as they broke the field down from 54 drivers to 28, Decker said the bond that the girls had with all 54 pushing and cheering each other along was one of a kind.
“I was trying out in Austria for the first round, we’re all competing, but at the same time we were so supportive, in trying to push each other so hard and giving each other advice and just being there for each other and that was really cool to see. You know you see it every once in a while racing back here in the states, in the circuit we race in now with teammates helping each other and stuff like that and friends at the track helping each other. But to see 54 girls all in the same room all helping each and cheering each other on, it was pretty powerful.”
Ironically enough, Decker early on wasn’t sure if the W-Series was something she wanted to do.
“I got a little nervous, and I was like, I don’t know if I want to do it, I want to go to NASCAR, NASCAR is my goal. F1 isn’t really a big goal of mine, but it would be so cool to do an F1 race. But NASCAR has been my goal ever since I was so little, I was like, am I going off track? I didn’t really know.”
However, after consulting things over with her parents, others, and lots of encouragement from boyfriend Derek Lemke, Decker was certain this was an opportunity she just couldn’t miss.
“Then when I read more about it and talked to more people about it and my boyfriend really pushed me and said it’s a great opportunity you should do it! I was like you’re right, I should do it!”
She then put it all into perspective for herself.
“I’m going to meet so many females, I’m going to get so much good experience. Just the process they are doing and the barriers they are breaking. It’s so cool to be a part of that and help them do that. But the big thing is they’re giving us a free ride if we make it. Its 6 races all paid for and we win money at the end. So what they’re giving us is the best opportunity they possibly can and training us to be the best racecar drivers we can. I know its road racing and completely different than NASCAR, but what they’re going to teach me is going to lay over and completely help me so much to reach my goal. So I really wanted to do it. Once I really thought about it and studied about it, I was like I have to do this, I can’t miss this great opportunity!”
If Decker is one of the final 18 females selected after the testing from March 19th through the 24th, she will take part in the 6 race series that will run from May through August of 2019. Her next event in the States will be in the K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol on April 6th.