Venturini Motorsports stock car racing team first to field three female drivers

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Natalie Decker, Toni Breidinger and Leilani Munter

 (Venturini Motorsports)

Inventory automobile racing staff Venturini Motorsports has had a practice of using ladies that stretches again for many years.

On June 29, the ARCA outfit made historical past — beginning three feminine drivers in the identical race for the primary time within the trendy period of the game.

Neither Natalie Decker, Leilani Münter nor Toni Breidinger made a push for the rostrum, ending 12th, 18th and 20th respectively at Chicagoland Speedway. However just by beginning as a trio, they helped increase the profile of ladies in a sport lengthy dominated by males.

“We’re not attempting to invoice ourselves as this staff that’s championing feminine drivers by any means. It simply so occurs that we have had various females come by means of,” staff spokesman Tom Venturini mentioned. “We’re a championship-caliber staff. We’re placing one of the best drivers within the seat, male or feminine.”

VMS’ push to make use of ladies as each crew members and drivers got here lengthy earlier than lately retired Cup sequence driver Danica Patrick ever set foot on a race monitor.

Crew proprietor Invoice Venturini gained Car Racing Membership of America titles in 1987 and 1991, the primary coming with an all-female pit crew — generally known as the “Extremely Blue Crew” — led by his spouse and staff co-owner Cathy Venturini.

“When that occurred, the entire concept of it was, ‘we’re opponents first.’ It was not a publicity stunt,” Tom Venturini mentioned. “We had one of the best bodily match ladies to do this job. They outperformed the lads. It actually simply occurred to be that they have been ladies on the crew.”

In subsequent years, the staff has given seats to the likes of Milka Duno, Alli Owens, Johanna Lengthy, Nicole Behar and others, and Breanna O’Leary is a member of VMS’ pit crew this season as a tire changer.

The newest girl hoping to show she’s worthy of a top-tier experience with the assistance of VMS is Decker, 21 and a Wisconsin native in her first full season in ARCA.

Her father, Chuck Decker, was each a race automobile and snowmobile racer. He additionally owns the Eagle Grove Derby Observe in Wisconsin, which hosts the annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby.

Chuck tried to get Natalie into snowmobiling, although it by no means caught. However when she was simply 6, Chuck took her on a visit to a go-kart monitor that ignited a life-long ardour for racing automobiles.

Decker quickly began watching NASCAR races each week along with her father, who received his daughter her first go-kart when she was simply 9.

“The purpose has at all times been NASCAR. Even earlier than I began racing, I keep in mind once I was tremendous younger I informed him that I wished to race NASCAR,” Decker mentioned.

Decker gained races in go karts, late fashions, vans and inventory automobiles as a teenager. NASCAR pegged her for its Drive for Variety program in 2015, and Decker tried however didn’t qualify for a NASCAR truck sequence race at Martinsville in 2016.

She then raced a restricted schedule within the ARCA sequence final season earlier than touchdown a full-time experience for 2018.

Decker, who at 21 is among the older drivers in ARCA, received off to a really promising begin by profitable the pole and ending fifth on the season opener at Daytona. However she had surgical procedure to restore a hernia in late Might and has completed outdoors the highest 10 in 4 of her final 5 races.

Decker views this 12 months as an academic alternative, although, with a watch towards fulfilling her dream of competing in NASCAR.

“I really feel prefer it’s simply all studying, as a result of all these youngsters received to be taught at such a younger age, and I do not really feel like I am that a lot older than them,” Decker mentioned. “It has been nice thus far.”

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