Shane Tucker at Mello Yello autograph signing session - Photo by NHRA
The last time Pro Stock fan favourite Shane Tucker arrived at New England Dragway, he qualified No. 4 and went to the second round of eliminations after defeating John Gaydosh in 2014.
Three years later, Tucker was looking forward to competing at the New England Nationals once again and taking on the NHRA’s strenuous four-in-a-row ‘eastern swing’ in the month of June.
“Epping was one of my biggest highlights this far in my NHRA career,” Tucker said. “In the second session, we set a track record with a 6.49, which was the first Pro Stock car in the 6.40’s in Epping. That track record lasted about three pairs but it was still an achievement for our team in only our fifth NHRA event. We ended up qualifying No. 4 that race and went to the second round.”
Since their 2017 debut in Charlotte, the Auzmet Architectural/Rob Tucker Racing team has had one goal for each race: to improve at every event they attend.
“Since we debuted our engine program, our goal was to improve at every race,” Tucker explained. “We qualified 15th in Charlotte and 13th in Atlanta so if we can get 11th or better this weekend, I think we would be fairly satisfied.
“As a driver, I want to be the best on the sheet after four sessions regardless of what the car is doing and maybe we can steal a round or four from the other teams on race day.”
Well that was the plan.
Come race day, the mood had changed to one of frustration and disappointment for the Australian team. From start to finish, it just wasn’t a good weekend.
Shane Tucker best summed it up with a post on social media – “Now let’s never speak of this race again.”
Tucker qualified 13th in the 14 car Pro Stock field with a 6.71 at 202 mph, and was to face Erica Enders in the first round!
Janine Tucker posted on Facebook – “Well as most people may have gathered already, the RTR/AUZMET racing weekend at Epping was a bitter disappointment.
In Q1 we were the first car in the session, which is always difficult to negotiate. The car left and didn’t move two feet before blowing the tyres of it. Went back to the pits to check the data and prepare for Q2 and tame her down somewhat.
Officials flew past signalling to head out for Q2 to which sent our guys into a mad scramble as the transmission was still not in the car.
So now it’s panic mode to make the session. As we were towing out for Q2 Cain Camilleri forgot his headset radio so he jumped off the golf cart from the right front seat!
Now here’s the thing, we’ve got me, and Dave Jack on the back of said golf cart with Rob steering and the racecar in tow. With Cain’s instant departure and Rob flat on the gas, we did a massive couple of wheel stands which nearly ricocheted Rob into the opposite pitted transporter, whilst Dave and myself were almost propelled into the windscreen of the race car. I must say, it was great entertainment for all the race fans watching in the vicinity.
The fiasco didn’t finish there as we are flat out up the staging lane access road by now to make it on time. Again we are the first car out. I have jumped on the back only to discover I’m trapped under the towrope for the duration of the haul.
As we round the sweeping bend we discover NO other competitors are in the lanes yet. Ah well, at least now we can steady the nerves before facing the tree.
So for Q2 we backed the Camaro down, but it was really soft in the 60′. Then got into top gear and suffered some sort of engine damage. She melted a spark plug, but the tune-up didn’t look bad.
So we yanked that engine out as further assessment will be needed. It was the first full run it had done so looks like more fine-tuning to come on that score.
We proceeded to install the spare engine for Q3 and had a slight mishap when the engine dolly came off the gantry after the engine was in the car frame. It nearly took Cain’s head off, but his arm broke the fall. Luckily Cain had no surgical breaks and is an Aussie mate so wasn’t suing for damages ha-ha.
A new day dawned and we are ready to rock n roll.
We warm her up Saturday morning for Q3 and everything seemed A-Okay. Checked all the lash, and chilled the motor down in preparation for our run.
Arrived in the staging lanes only to discover our driver has left his HANS device in the bloody trailer back at the pits. So Moi is sent to retrieve it post haste. I had that throttle wide open there and back, along the return access road, and on the horn to make it in time. Phew!! Made it!
At last, the track officials call us into the starter box where Shane goes to fire her up. But he notices one cylinder was down on compression, so, unfortunately, Q3 was a non-event. It’s back to the pit area to assess this problem.
Upon inspection, we discovered we had broken a wheel on a lifter and damaged the cam. No matter how hard the guys tried to remove the said lifter, she wasn’t coming out of the block without a total dismantling of the engine.
C’est La Vie our weekend was DONE!!
But I must say big THANKS to Dave and Cain for the long hours and dedication, to ensure we made it to the start line.
Unfortunately, we won’t make the Englishtown event as we have decided to head home to Nth Carolina now to make the repairs needed and hopefully get to play again at Bristol.”
Footnote: On the way home to North Carolina the truck broke down three miles short of the front door.