Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 | Page 28


‘ Big Change ’ on Big Tires

Former Outlaw 10.5 star Mike Decker Jr . leading the way in Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association By Nate Van Wagnen

When the Decker family debuted their new screw-blown , late-model “ Big Change ” Camaro at the Shakedown Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park late in 2020 , they knew they had a competitive hot rod on their hands . Tuner Todd Tutterow drove it to a runner-up finish in Pro Mod at the Shakedown , setting off what has become a trend of late-round finishes for the car in 2021 Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association ( NEOPMA ) competition .

After Tutterow broke the car in at the Shakedown , Mike Decker Jr . took over the driver ’ s seat this year . He opened the season with a runner-up finish at the NEOPMA season opener at Maryland International Raceway , losing with a quicker 3.67 to Fredy Scriba , who won with a . 000 reaction
time and a 3.70 .
Similarly , Decker lost a close race in the final round of the spring Yellowbullet . com Nationals at Cecil County Dragway when Jason Lee used a quicker light and a 3.595 to beat Decker ’ s 3.596 . Still , the back-to-back runner-up finishes were enough to convince Decker to run for the 2021 championship .
Those hopes were stoked when Decker defeated Tutterow in the final round of the fall Yellow-bullet Nationals held on its traditional Labor Day weekend date . Decker left the starting line first with a . 030 light , trailed only slightly by Tutterow ’ s . 034 . It was enough to keep Decker out in front at the eighth-mile finish line , with his 3.682 at 208.10 defeating Tutterow ’ s 3.68 at 205.16 .
“ We ’ ve been in the finals four or five times [ at the Yellowbullet Nationals ] before , just never sealed the deal for whatever reason ,” said Decker , a former Outlaw 10.5 star . “ To us , it ’ s like winning Indy or something . It was a very emotional win for all of us on our team . It ’ s just a very big deal and huge accomplishment . We ’ ve won championships
and whatnot , but to win this race is a really big deal .”
It was a team win , as Tutterow consults on the tuning side for both Decker and fellow NEOP-MA member Tommy Gray , who had Tutterow drive his car at the Yellowbullet Nationals . Along with helping both teams make the right tuning calls , Tutterow ’ s Wyo Motorsports prepared the screwblown engines and the Ty-Drive converter drive units in both cars .
“ It ’ s all his stuff in that car – his gear ratios , his torque converter – everything in that car is his deal ,” Decker said of working with Tutterow . “ It ’ s not our knowledge , it ’ s his knowledge . He tunes that car for us and he teaches my son [ Mike “ Hollywood ” Decker III ] how to tune that car . You can hire anybody you want to tune your car , but they ’ re not going to teach you to tune your car because then they ’ re out of a job . He ’ s teaching my son how to tune that car . It ’ s a big deal .”
In fact , “ Hollywood ” was calling the shots when Jr . won a second consecutive NEOPMA race at
the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic at Maple Grove Raceway in September . The Decker ’ s Salvage team qualified No . 1 and raced on to defeat Andy Jensen in the final round . Along with earning the points and payday from NEOPMA , Decker also received a coveted NHRA “ Wally ” for winning the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic , which is an NHRA National Open .
“ When they gave me a Wally , it almost brought a little tear to my eye ,” Decker said . “ I wasn ’ t expecting to win a Wally . How often can you win a Wally ? One other time we were in the hunt for one and we blew the engine up . It ’ s just thrilling to have that Wally to put on the shelf in my father ’ s office . Now we ’ re going to get to look at it every day when we get to work . It ’ s amazing . We ’ re very blessed .”
It ’ s been a whirlwind season for Decker and his family-based team . Decker is the points leader over Scriba going into the NEOPMA season finale , the Superchargers Showdown , October 1-3 at Maryland International Raceway . DI
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