Photos courtesy dragphotos.com.au.
Willowbank Raceway's FUCHS Winternationals will host a world first when Rob Tucker, Shane Tucker and Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli all compete in the one professional drag racing bracket - Pro Stock - next month (June 7-10).
While families racing together in motorsport is fairly commonplace, when Rob Tucker and his children Shane and Kirsten suit up this Queen's Birthday long weekend, it is believed to be the first time a father, son and daughter have competed at the same time at the same event in the same professional-level class in the world.
"It is pretty special when you think about it," said Rob Tucker.
"As far as we are aware, there isn't any other group like this - father, son and daughter - who have raced together all in the one group one (professional) level class at the same time and at the same event.
"The closest anyone is aware of in the sport is John Force and his daughters - but even then it is also a different combination to what we will be doing.
"It will definitely be a nice thing to do, but it will also certainly be busy for us - the logistics alone of organising three cars at this level is mind boggling to say the least.
"I certainly feel for my wife Janine, who makes it her job to look after everyone when we go racing. Without all her efforts looking after not only us as drivers but also all of the team members, I don't think we would be able to do what we do, so we all owe her a big thank you!"
Tucker Senior is a former Australian Pro Stock champion who stepped out of the full-time seat in 2008 to concentrate on the growing racing career of his son Shane, a two-time and reigning FUCHS Winternationals winner.
"I have faced off against Shane in qualifying back in the day and he beat me both times!" laughed Rob Tucker.
"I have only ever raced against Kirsten in go karts, never on the drag strip, so I am really looking forward to it and if the draw leads us to line up against each other I know it will be a lot of fun.
"If it comes down to racing however, it doesn't matter who it is, you want to beat them – perhaps even more so with family members, you want to make sure you have the bragging rights!"
For Shane Tucker, while he has been keen to help his sister during her first full year of Pro Stock, if it comes down to racing 'all bets will be off'.
"The Winternationals is just one of those events where we seem to go well, we have been to four finals there as a team and I have won two of them, and as our home track holding the biggest event of the year it definitely has a special element to it," said Shane Tucker.
"The build-up is always pretty big leading up to this event, last year we saw Kirsten debut in the bracket and now this year we have all three of us lining up to compete.
"As far as taking on dad, it is a funny thing, you always want him to do well, but at the same time you want to win regardless of who is in the other lane – so it is a bit of a double edged sword.
"I have lined up against Kirsten a few times over this past year as well, but always in qualifying, so I have worked with her and told her how to further develop her race craft – she has been warned though, once we are in a race scenario, all that nice stuff goes out the window!
"Of course I don't want to lose to her, but as the only girl in the Pro Stock class I think that is the same for everyone – maybe I have even more to lose if she is able to get one over me given that I am her younger brother!
"For mum, watching over all three of us racing in the same class, I am sure that is going to be a bit strange for her – I am sure she will be happy whichever way the win light goes if we do end up racing each other, however I have a funny feeling she may have a soft spot for wanting Dad to come out the victor and I know Kirsten would agree with me there!"
For Shane, it is not only family bragging rights but also a disappointing last round appearance in the ANDRA Pro Series which will be spurring this young racer on.
"Dad has been working really hard on our cars and with this year being the 25th anniversary of when he debuted in the Pro Stock bracket, I am just really hoping that we can qualify all three cars and continue this through to race day," said Shane Tucker.
"Being the defending winner, it definitely adds a bit of pressure but I will just do everything I can – after our last round where in Sydney I ran a time that was just three thousandths away from the national record and got beaten on a holeshot (other driver had a better reaction time) I am certainly inspired to make amends.
"That result just proved how hard the team is working and what they are capable of, so as a driver I need to do my part, if I can do that and the crew keep doing what they have been doing, I know we can be pretty hard to stop!"
Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli, who is married to fellow drag racing identity and competitor John Cannuli– who will compete in the Top Alcohol bracket at the FUCHS Winternationals – says racing against her dad and brother will be an honour.
"I am definitely looking forward to lining up with dad and Shane at the FUCHS Winternationals," said Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli.
"Dad always does the work on the engines and the cars and for the past while has been the man behind the scenes of my race program, and together with Shane has been teaching me as I learn the craft of Pro Stock racing.
"It will certainly be a challenge racing against dad and Shane, but at the same time it will be an honour to line up against them as well. I know I won't be any more nervous against them than anyone else, but at the same time I know if we face off in a race situation – especially if it is Shane – it will be each 'man' to himself!
"It would be great to run against dad and beat him – I can tell him that he taught me well! As for Shane, we have had two grudge matches at past events and he is claiming two-nil, but one of those was a mechanical failure for me so I like to remind him that it wasn't always that way – I had my own victories over him back in the Junior Dragster days and they still count!" added a laughing Kirsten.
Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli became the first ever female competitor in the Pro Stock category in Australia in 2012 when she gained her licence just in time to debut at the FUCHS Winternationals.
"It has certainly been a big year since I debuted at Willowbank Raceway for last year's FUCHS Winternationals – it has been a year of ups and downs, and I have certainly enjoyed a wide array of on-track experiences with various things happening with the car," said Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli.
"I was so excited though at the last round to run a Personal Best time and be up there with the rest of the field – after the challenges we have faced it was just the confidence boost I needed heading into this event at my home track.
"Combine that with what dad, Shane and I are doing as what is understood to be the first father, daughter and son combination to race at the professional level in the one bracket worldwide, and I am thinking this event is going to be pretty special."
For Kirsten and Shane, the next generation of racing 'Tuckers' are already gaining interest, with Kirsten's son Nixon (4) and daughter Tiana (5) following 'mummy's' progress closely, while Shane's daughter with fiance Bec, Sayla-Rose, might only be three (3) but still cheers the racers in the family on with great enthusiasm.
"My kids have really got a kick out of this first year with 'mummy' racing as well as 'daddy', Uncle Shane and DanDan (Grandad Rob Tucker)," said Kirsten Tucker-Cannuli.
"It has been challenging at times but it has been great fun, and I can't believe it is 12 months since we got started!"
The Tuckers will be part of a field of more than 20 Pro Stock racers fronting up for the FUCHS Winternationals, which hosts racing for all of the six ANDRA Pro Series brackets – Top Fuel, Top Doorslammer, Top Alcohol, Pro Stock, Top Bike and Pro Stock Motorcycle. More than 500 racers will compete in front of an estimated 40,000 spectators across the four days.
For racers looking to compete, entries close today (Friday 17 May) at 5.00pm. For spectators, a range of ticketing options are available including special pre-purchase online-only multi-day event passes. Students and Concession Hard holders with ID gain discounts, while children aged 13 and under gain free entry. For full information, please visit www.willwobankraceway.com.au.