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Snowmobile Racer, Ambassador, Matriarch Audrey Decker Has Died

By John Prusak

June 11, 2019

Audrey Decker, the matriarch of one of snowmobiling’s most famous families and a three-time Hall Of Fame inductee in her own right, has died. Decker, 86, of Eagle River, Wisconsin, had been bravely battling Parkinson’s Disease.

Audrey and Dick Decker, shot at the starting line of the 2015 Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby

Many modern snowmobile racing fans and those in the touring community may have known Audrey and her husband, Richard “Dick” Decker, as the folks behind Decker Sno-Venture Tours, for their family’s long ownership of the Eagle River Derby Track from 1985 until 2018, and as the mother to famous racers/riders/snowmobile performance shop owners Steve, Allen, Mike and Chuck Decker, but her involvement in the snowmobile community stretches back much further.

In an interview earlier this year with Snow Goer, Dick Decker recounted how he purchased the family’s first snowmobile right before Christmas in 1964 when one of the sons spotted it outside a local hardware store for sale. Since then, the family’s life centered on snowmobiling.

It started with the boys racing but soon Dick and Audrey were also competing.  “At that time when we were all racing back then, we were the biggest team on the circuit,” Dick Decker told us in January. “We had 15 sleds that we would race – we had one semi and we had to add a second one to it.”

Speaking specifically of Audrey’s racing chops, Dick Decker said, “There was Powder Puff racing back then, and then she got out of that and had to race against the men… She won a lot of races and was always very competitive. She’s got more history than all of the boys put together.”

Audrey Decker’s career spanned 13 years, and she was the first woman inducted into the Snowmobile Racing Hall Of Fame in 1989 at the age of 56. In 2001, she and Dick Decker were inducted in the other hall – the grassroots oriented International Snowmobile Hall Of Fame – in the “promoter” category for their efforts to expand snowmobiling to the masses with both the touring business and the Derby Track. And in 2018, she was inducted once more in the racing-oriented hall – now renamed simply Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wisconsin – as a part of the Team Decker Racing induction that included the whole family. She’s also credited with being a Women On Snow ride co-founder.

Aside from the touring and racing businesses, she and Dick Decker owned a dealership in the powersports industry for 10 years. On the touring business, the duo and other family members led snowmobile excursions all over North America as well as to Iceland and Scandinavia. When Dick and Audrey would team up on a tour, Dick would often “guide” the group via snowmobile while Audrey drove the support vehicle, towing a huge trailer and getting to destinations before the riding group to make arrangements, often with her tiny little dog by her side or on her lap. And, once a person had been on one of the Decker Tours, they were treated like extended family by Dick and Audrey – invited to visit in the summer for a pontoon ride and general hospitality on the Eagle River chain of lakes.

Through it all, Dick and Audrey were pretty much inseparable. A few years back, Dick suffered through some health challenges and Audrey was always there to help him through it; in the last couple of years, Dick has taken on more the role of caregiver. They were married for 65 years.

“I put a little thing in the [local] newspaper saying it’s been a good 65 years and it’s been a hell of a ride,” Dick Decker joked in January. “I got a lot of comments on that and I tell people that that really wasn’t right, that 65 years. And they say, ‘Really, not that many?’ and I say, ‘No, it’s more like 165 years! And, if you ask Audrey she’ll tell you it’s 265 years!’”

Our 2019 Iron Dog Brigade Distinguished Service Award (formerly the George Eisenhuth Award) was presented to Christine Jourdain (center) with Iron Dog President Bob King and Iron Dog Secretary Treasurer Judy King. — with Bob KingChristine Jourdain and Judy King.

Iron Dog Brigade in Washington, DC

The American Council of Snowmobile Associations has just completed its' 18th successful Washington DC FlyIn. We were proud to have nine active Iron Dogs in attendance. We had four full days of activities.

 

 Sunday we had a short Midwest Chapter Meeting, an abbreviated ACSA Board Meeting and then the 16 states in attendance went into a Strategic Planning Session for the rest of the day led by Kim & Dee Dee Raap. Exciting information was culled from the day long session. A lot was learned and we have good direction on how to go forward for the good of ACSA.

 

 Monday we had excellent speakers from Federal Highways, Department of Interior, Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Forest Service, American Recreation Coalition, Motorcycle Industry Coalition, National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Congressman Liz Cheney, Department of Agriculture and the Legislative Director for Senator Steve Daines. We learned so much so we were prepared to go to the "hill" on Tuesday.

 Tuesday we "stormed the Hill". We had meetings with either our Congressman, Senators or their aides and we were prepared because of our sessions on Monday.

 

 Time and money very well spent.

First row: Nancy Hanson, Jason Howell, Peggy Spieger

Back row: Scoott Herzog, Kim Raap, Jerry Hanson, Judy King, Bob King, Bill Manson — in Washington, District of Columbia.

Small Towns: Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum

EAGLE RIVER, Wis. - Folks in Eagle River are proud to be known as the snowmobile capitol of the world so proud they’ve been holding the world championship snowmobile derby in town for more than 50 years.

What better community to take you on a journey through the snowmobiles history Than Eagle River?

About 10 years ago they created the Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum.

From sno-pony’s to kitty kats, sno-wing mallards to ski-daddlers, this museum has more than 70 sleds on display for a history lesson anyone with a snowmobile can appreciate.

Nearly all of the sleds are in pristine condition, even though a handful of them are from the mid 1900’s.

The Ellison family built one in 1953, it wasn’t for speed or leisure. It was for work but likely still a thrill despite having just 8 horsepower.

So if you want to check out the truly one of a kind, consider heading to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum. They’ll put you right in the driver’s seat for a trip right down memory lane.

To see video click on link below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBctjg0Aau4