Race Weekend Central

Family, Social Media & DGM Push Natalie Decker to Succeed

After leading her first career NASCAR Xfinity Series laps at Daytona International Speedway. Natalie Decker returned to the track in DGM Racing’s No. 92 car for the BetMGM 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with sponsorship with Bikini Zone.

Frontstretch caught up with Decker via Zoom prior to her second start of 2024 to discuss her new sponsorship, how she has incorporated her family into her racing life and sponsorship promotions via social media. She also discussed her first trip to Formula 1 at the Miami Grand Prix and more.

Wyatt Watson, Frontstretch: On your social media, you’ve gotten your family, your mother involved with promoting the sponsorship. How fun has it been to include your family in that as well?

Natalie Decker: Thank you for bringing that up. It has been so amazing. I’m very close with my family, and my family is the reason that I am being here in North Carolina racing in NASCAR.

The reason I fell in love with racing was because of my family. We would race on the weekends together. It was always my parents, my brother and my cousins, my aunt and uncle. So doing the sport together as a family makes it so wonderful.

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And now, I have a partnership that I can relate to with my mother and do fun activities together, like doing a family pool day and making fun content. It’s just wonderful, and my mom’s my best friend, so her and I have so much fun.

We filmed that video that you’re probably talking about that you found on Instagram, Facebook. It was everywhere, and we had the best time ever making that video. It was so much fun, and we had matching swimsuits, and it was great.

Watson: We mentioned that you’ll be participating in the Coca-Cola 600 weekend and Memorial Day weekend. How important is that to be a part of one of the crown jewel weekends in NASCAR and military appreciation?

Decker: This is one of the best weekends in NASCAR, and the one thing that is so important is how many activities there are for fans that get to come to this event this coming weekend, and I love that. I feel like this race is just so packed with so many activities for the fans, and that makes me so happy to see so many new people and get back together with some of the people that I’ve already met in the past at racetracks.

I love that part of this weekend, and I’ve never been to the actual Coca-Cola 600. I’ve always stayed home, but we have so much family coming into town for this weekend. I think I’m going to able to talk to Derek [Lemke], my husband, into going and watching the Coca-Cola 600 for the first time and being there as a fan.

Watson: Speaking of your husband Derek, how have things been the first half-year, almost, into the marriage? What has changed between being boyfriend/girlfriend to now being together full time?

Decker: It’s so crazy, because I feel like nothing has changed other than we wear rings on our fingers now. Our life already was so combined together. We were such a team right away when he fully committed to supporting my racing.

Derek Lemke: We’re still married, to confirm.

Decker: When he wanted to move to North Carolina and just take on the role of supporting me in my career, it felt like we were a team already right away, and we were just dating. And now, it’s so much fun. Every year gets better and better.

We’ve been together for eight years, only married for a few months, but it’s so wonderful. And the best part about getting married was honestly celebrating everything with our friends and family and having that big party, and it was just incredible. That was such a fun night.

Watson: What would it mean to you to share the track with your husband one day?

Decker: That’s literally our goal and dream. We talk about that daily. So here’s the thing: Derek has never beaten me. We talk about that all the time. We’ve only raced against each other a few times, but we’re going to battle it out in either a [NASCAR Craftsman] Truck race or an Xfinity race somewhere soon. We have to make it happen, and then we can then determine who is better after that race.

Watson: You also went to your first Formula 1 race and got to do a little bit of sponsorship with Wawa. How fun was that weekend and being a part of all that?

Decker: It was incredible. I mean, it was so much fun to experience a new form of motorsports, especially being there with my husband, and my parents were down there. We had a lot of friends there. It was really great.

Wawa feels like a family to me, and I feel like every time I get to go experience shopping at a Wawa, I feel as if I’m part of like a whole new family. And while we were down there, I got to go to Wawa as, like, just Natalie Decker, and not do an appearance.

Usually, when we’re going to the one at Daytona, I get to do an appearance and hang out with the fans and have the show car there. This time, when I went to the Wawa, I got to learn how to make a hoagie and hang out with everyone behind the counter, and it was so much fun.

It was amazing, but the F1 race, I loved it. It was very fast and smells different than NASCAR — I said that in my YouTube video — but after the weekend was over, Derek and I were on our way home, and we still prefer NASCAR.

Watson: How important is that for building your brand, building your fanbase and involving them in your promotions?

Decker: Social media is so important. A lot of fans understand that, and some don’t, but in the racing industry, all of the drivers and everyone involved in racing on this side really understands how important it is.

Like I said earlier, sponsorship drives the sport, and they’re the reason that a lot of these drivers get to go and race week in and week out. So it’s so important. I love social media because I get to express myself on there and really curate the content to show truly who I am, and it’s fun. I get a lot of heat and hate from some people saying, “Oh, you focus too much on social media.”

It’s really fun for me to be able to make the content, especially make the content about my racing while I’m preparing for a race or whatever that looks like and posting about my race weekend behind the scenes, but then also while I’m not racing, sharing who I am as a person.

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My mom and I, with the Bikini Zone video that we did, that was truly us enjoying our Sunday after church and doing a family day at the pool. And to be able to share that and show what that looks like, that’s really fun to me, and I’m just glad that a lot of my fans get to see that part of me and enjoy it as well because I enjoy doing it so much.

Watson: What’s been your most favorite motorsport memory so far in your career?

Decker: There’s so many. I don’t know. I feel like my most favorite for me is just being able to do everything every weekend with my family. That to me, I have the most memories just being at the track with my parents, or sometimes, my brother gets to fly in. I think he’s coming this weekend, so the family part is my favorite.

Watson: Who’s your biggest mentor on the driving part of your career?

I have to say Derek. I’m glad he’s not in here to hear me say this right now, because he is the reason why I push myself so hard and he helps coach me through everything from driving to stuff on social media, navigating partnerships and sponsorships and race team stuff.

He is there for me for anything I need, and he’s so smart. And he’s also driven to helping my career be successful. I have to say he is my biggest mentor, because I literally look for him everywhere I go. I hope he’s just always in my corner all the time because he’s my comfort for me and he helps me be a better driver and a better person. And while I’m at the track, I want both of those, and that’s what he does for me, so I love him so much.

Watson: How difficult is it to find a sponsorship that’ll stick long-term with you?

Decker: Finding a sponsorship, period — even if it’s just a one-off weekend thing or a multi-race deal — it’s so difficult. I’ve only been in the car once this year so far, and now it will be twice after the Charlotte race, but it’s so hard.

A lot of people, the outsiders looking in, they’re like, “Well, you’re a female, it must be easier to find sponsorship.” No, regardless to if you’re male or female, it doesn’t matter, because it’s so difficult no matter who you are in the sport. It’s the hardest part about the sport, and it’s what you have to put your most effort into so that you can try to go to that next race.

After the interview, Decker finished 29th at Charlotte, her best career finish at the facility. To watch the extended interview, watch the video below.

About the author

Screenshot 20220207 211834 Instagram

Wyatt Watson has followed NASCAR closely since 2007. He joined Frontstretchas a journalist in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter, collecting exclusive content for Frontstretch.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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