Presser takes years to the track |

Presser takes years to the track

Tribune News Service

Nellie Kathrina Presser’s first exposure to Silver State Raceway in Carson City was at the age of 9 months when her mom, Doris – a race fan – brought her to the track. Now, at the age of 19, she has quickly become a strong contender in the points battle of the Maverick division.

“Ever since I can remember I have wanted to race,” Presser said. “I kept telling my mom I was going to race and, well, here I am. And my parents are very supportive of me.”

Presser first tried racing at the age of 16, bringing her 1977 Pontiac Trans Am to the track. It was her street car. After three weeks at the track, Nellie crashed her car into the wall.

“I was so disappointed. I was really having fun and I had to go and destroy the car. But I still have the steering wheel. It’s hanging on my bedroom wall.”

Presser then decided it was time to take a break from racing. She had family and personal problems that were more important to her, and they had priority. Getting her life back in order, Presser set her sights to return to racing.

With a crew of herself and two friends, Jim Meerly and Renny Owen, they make the trek from South Lake Tahoe to Carson City every Saturday, car in tow.

“Jim drives the tow truck and works on the car throughout the week when it needs it. And Renny helps with the motor and hot-laps the car for me. They are two of the best guys you could ever have on a crew. If it weren’t for them, I would definitely not be here and doing as well as I have been. We’ve just been improving week by week and all the hard work has started to pay off.”

Presser won her first main event on Sept. 13. A race she started from the last position of the line up in a 12-car field.

“This was really a good day for her,” said Doris Presser. “Today is her grandmother’s birthday and she won her first main event. It’s really exciting.”

But the fame does not go to her head as Nellie clearly has her goals in sight. First win a local championship, and work her way in to the Limited Sportsman division. From there she wants to race in the Winston West, the Southwest, Busch Grand National and eventually, the Winston Cup circuits. Race tours that are dominated by men.

“You know, racing with the guys here is fun. I could never race a powder puff league. The men are more aggresive and you learn better that way. And they treat me with a lot of respect,” she said.

“Some of us don’t talk as much since I’ve begun moving up in the points, but they’re all great to be around and drive next to.”

Since her first week on the track, Presser has moved from 14th to fourth in the points standings. She does have a few favorite drivers – Mike Walker, who drives on the Nor-Cal tour and Craig Paulsen of Sparks, who is a regular at Silver State Raceway in the Limited Sportsman division. In NASCAR, it’s Rusty Wallace. “I like him because he speaks his mind. He tells things as it is,” she said.

At her day job, you can find Presser at Denny’s in South Lake Tahoe. To take her mind off of racing and relax, Presser paints wolves and landscapes. She has worked with Paulsen’s mother, Dorothy, a member of the Nevada Artists Association.

“It helps me clear my head, relax, and take my mind off racing.”

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