Kirsten Tucker: Pro Stock Sweetheart
“For me, personally, I don’t think there was ever a time that I didn’t want to drag race,” says Tucker, “but family came first. I was married and had two children by the time the opportunity arose for me to get behind the wheel of a pro car, but as soon as it did, I jumped at the chance and have tried my best to make the most of it.”
Prior to diving into Pro Stock, Tucker hadn’t been in a race car since her days racing Junior Dragster with her brother as a child.
“It was definitely a big leap, but I was really happy with the progress I made from just sitting in the Pro Stock car making passes in my head to testing to competition,” she says. “That first pass, I remember it well, and it wasn’t what I expected. The feeling—getting pushed back in the seat—it was a bit of a blur there early on. My dad taught my brother to drive, and he taught me to drive, and I’m very thankful to the both of them—not to mention my husband, John, who races Top Doorslammer and Top Alcohol Funny Car—for all their guidance.
“Seeing how excited the kids are about me getting in the driver’s seat has been a thrill in itself,” she admits. “They watched me on video before coming out to the track to see me test, but it was always smiles ear to ear. They’re almost as bad as the rest of us; you can’t keep them away from the track for anything, Nixon cries when he sees his dad’s trailer pull out of the driveway when he can’t go with. It’s adorable.”
Being the tight-knit family the Tuckers are, it was a no brainer for Kirsten to load up her family and cross the ocean to be there firsthand to witness Shane letting out of the clutch for the first time in the opening round of Pro Stock qualifying in Pomona.
“If we weren’t at the track racing ourselves, we were there supporting others, or we were at home working on the cars,” she says. “There’s not a meal that goes by where we sit at the dinner table and make it the entire time without talking about drag racing. Honestly, I married a drag racer, my brother-in-law drag races, my uncles do it, and my children want to do it. It’s who we are.
“I couldn’t imagine missing this moment,” she continues. “It’s big for our family, but I think it’s just the next logical step. The past few years have been very daring for my father, to say the least. He has always developed and maintained our own in-house engine program for the 400 c.i. small blocks that we run here in Pro Stock, but he’s also seen his team go from a one-car operation with Shane to a two-car operation with me added, to three cars in 2013 with him jumping in the driver’s seat. Honestly, I think he—all of us—were prepared for the next challenge.”
NHRA Pro Stock, widely considered the most competitive category in drag racing—bar none—will certainly be a challenge, but the Australian version of the Force family is committed to the cause.