“Rest in Peace” – Devastated Xfinity Star Left Mourning the Loss of Her Mentor & Guiding Light

Published 04/06/2024, 3:55 AM EDT

Follow Us

via Getty

It all started with a Christmas present in 1965. One thing led to another, and within no time, the Decker family became the “winningest race team in snowmobile history!” And one of the driving forces behind the family’s love for racing was Richard Decker. While few things could’ve topped the pride he must’ve felt raising an entire generation of snowmobile racers, there’s no doubt that watching his granddaughter, Natalie Decker, make NASCAR history would’ve been one of them.

On February 19 at the Daytona International Speedway, Natalie Decker led 7 laps during the United Rentals 300, becoming the first woman to lead an Xfinity Series race since 2013. The composure and racecraft she demonstrated throughout the race were absolutely phenomenal. As someone who mentored and showed her the way in the male-dominated motorsport industry, Richard Decker’s legacy will forever live on through Natalie’s endeavors. The 26-year-old said so herself.

Richard’s unparalleled legacy that made Natalie Decker proud to be his grandchild


Article continues below this ad

As Grandpa Decker bid farewell to the world on April 4, Natalie wrote, “Dear Grandpa, I will look for you in every sunset. Your golden heart and hard-working hands have shown me how one person’s life can impact so many lives. You have left a legacy that will be talked about forever.” Along with this heartwarming message, she shared a few pictures with Richard from her wedding day. And they perfectly exuded the adoration between them. “I am so proud to be Richard Decker’s granddaughter, and I cannot wait to pass down your wisdom, love, and stories. I love you, Grandpa. Rest in peace.”

Sharing the news on LinkedIn, Natalie’s mother, Amy, wrote that her daughter and Richard “had a special bond and shared the love of racing.” That love for racing started with that Christmas gift to Chuck Decker (Natalie’s father) in 1965: a new Ski-Doo snowmobile. The Decker family didn’t have much experience with snowmobiles at the time, but a work-related relocation to Solon Springs worked out in their favor. While Richard Decker used to be caught up with work, his children made full use of the machines they gathered over the years. And Richard shared a hilarious tidbit about how they managed it.

In an interview with SnowGoer, Richard Decker revealed, “In ’67, I got transferred to Minneapolis, and we bought a place out on Lake Minnetonka. The kids kept getting more and more serious with their riding. They literally wore those damn sleds out. I would come home and they hadn’t had much gas in them when I left, but they’d be all worn out. I finally said, ‘Where in the heck are you guys getting the money to buy that gas?’ Well, here they were, charging their friends to go snowmobiling!”

Soon enough, Decker and his wife, Audrey, realized it was much more than a temporary hobby for their kids. And so began the journey of the “winningest race team in snowmobile history!” Their influence not just on their children but even the sport was unparalleled as they reportedly helped widen the sport’s appeal to the larger audience by actively organizing Decker Snowmobile Tours, to which Decker always carried miniature Snickers!

The family also owned the most iconic location in the snowmobiling community, the Eagle River Derby track in Wisconsin, which was the site of the Eagle River Championship for more than three decades. The couple later started their own team together, Team Oasis. Moreover, Richard Decker also served as the President of the United States Snowmobile Association and became the first Vice President of the World Snowmobile Federation. Notably, the couple was also inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2001.

Whether it be the race track or Natalie’s big day, 92-year-old Richard Decker was a constant presence in his granddaughter’s big moments. His impact on his granddaughter was so profound that it pushed Natalie Decker into pursuing a motorsports career, even starting her own team in 2021. So, as Natalie Decker shared the news of his passing, many in the NASCAR community extended their condolences.

Richard Decker was a great person to spend time with


Article continues below this ad


Get instantly notified of the hottest NASCAR stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

Throughout his career as a snowmobile maestro, Richard Decker was an inspiration not only to his own children but also to the motorsport community in general. This was further solidified by the waves of support and condolences that Decker received upon her announcement.

Friends of the family reached out to praise Richard Decker’s legacy. A sincere user stated, “Sorry about the loss of Richard. I loved the time I spent with him and Audrey (Natalie’s grandmother).” Others were equally devastated for Natalie, who had not just lost her grandfather but also her guiding light in the fast-paced world of motorsport. Fans shared their sympathy, too, with one writing, “I’m so sorry for your loss Natalie. May your grandfather rest in eternal peace. 🙏

With all that she learned from her grandfather and the time they spent together, there’s no doubt Natalie Decker would have tons of memories to look back on. Expressing just this, another fan wrote, “You are sooooo lucky to have memories to carry forward. Condolences to you, the family, and friends.”


Article continues below this ad

As the family reflects on Richard Decker’s legacy in this difficult time, Natalie Decker aims to honor her grandfather by further solidifying the Decker name in NASCAR’s history books. EssentiallySports sends its heartfelt condolences to Richard Decker’s family, friends, and fans.


Written by:

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed


One take at a time

Kabir Bajaj Ahmed is an F1 & NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Known for his storytelling and extensive research skills, he has covered multiple stories on Dale Earnhardt Jr and his legendary dad, allowing readers to relive the thunderous days of 'The Intimidator'. Being a racer himself, Kabir can resonate with the motorsport world better than most.
Show More>

Edited by:

Shivali Nathta