(Aug. 16th, 2016) Several of our Conversations this year have been with second, third and fourth generation drivers. We’ll continue that theme this week. Dustin Tucker is right at home in a race car and is becoming a pretty good pro stock driver, in his first full season in the big car. He’s the son of legendary driver Shawn Tucker and the grandson of Leroy Tucker, who was a great driver back in his day.
A Conversation with Dustin Tucker
Wade: Hey Dustin, it sure looks like you are starting to get more comfortable in your Re/Max Group Four Realty pro stock ride. You’ve had some solid finishes and look pretty good out there racing with the veteran drivers.
Dustin: For sure, I’m certainly starting to get more comfortable in the car each and every week. This is a new car for 16 and it’s certainly thrown us a few curve balls, setup-wise, but we are getting it figured out week by week. The last few weeks we’ve been consistent but just need that last little push to find victory lane. And it’s certainly a big help to race with these veteran drivers, you can definitely learn a few things from each and every one of them, that can help accelerate the learning curve out there.Dustin Tucker is having a blast in his first full-time season in a Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock car. This third generation driver is working hard to carry on the Tucker family tradition!
Wade: I know you played some hockey when you were younger, but it’s probably safe to say that racing is your number one sport. What is it about racing that excites you and drives you to work hard to improve?
Dustin: There is just something about racing that has brought out a way more competitive side of me that no other sport could. I don’t really fully understand why, but all I know is I love it! I spend every second of every day trying to think of new ways to improve our car and it’s setup. I work on it all the time (Mom and Dad think I work on it to much) but hey, it keeps me out of trouble.
Wade: Your Dad is a former pro stock champion here at Speedway 660 and has three Parts for Trucks championships. He also is the only driver to win the 250 on three occasions on SpeedWeekend as well as the IWK 250 down at Riverside. What was it like as a kid going to tracks around the Maritimes seeing your Dad win races and championships?
Dustin: Dad has certainly had his fair share of success around the Maritimes. I loved watching him race in general, and it was so exciting seeing him run up front and winning races. It was even more fun, later on in his career, when I was finally old enough where Dad started sneaking me in the pits (around 12-13 years old) most places would tell him he wasn’t allowed to do that, but he would always argue that it was a family sport and I worked with them all week so, I should be allowed to come to the pits with them. So it was pretty awesome being 16 years old for four years in a row. It was always a blast traveling everywhere with them, we always took the good with the bad and just had fun with everything we did, as a team. Dustin’s Dad Shawn won three Maritime Pro Stock Tour Championships. Dustin (front row center) was a member of Shawn’s crew before taking the wheel of the 52 himself.
Wade: I know you are not old enough to have seen your grandfather race. But, just in case you don’t know, he was a pretty good wheelman too. Have you heard about his racing career?
Dustin: I’ve heard lots about it, from racing three and four nights a week, to how they weren’t as fortunate as we are today and had to go cut parts off junkyard cars to build their race cars. They used to weld two wheels together to form a wheel to take the 10 inch slicks. I”ve heard all kinds of crazy stories from both my Grandfather and lots of other racers from back in the day. It’s so interesting, and I love listening to everything they have to say, and love seeing pictures of their cars from back then. They had some pretty darn sharp looking cars from what I have seen. And all the thought and fabricating they put into them is just amazing. I really wish I had been old enough to watch him race back then, but thanks to technology and you tube we can see some races from back then.Racin is a Tucker Tradition. Dustin is proud to follow in the foot-steps or perhaps wheel-tracks of father Shawn and grandfather Leroy.
Wade: These days lots of kids start racing go-karts and even bandoleros before they turn ten. But I think you started a little later. Can you tell us a bit about your racing career path?
Dustin: Well Mom and Dad always joked around that they tried their best to keep me away from racing, which was clearly a plan that was doomed from the start. So between “their plan” and Dad’s full time racing schedule, I never really had the chance to drive anything. Until one season, I believe I was 17, it was three years ago, we got a seat that properly fit me before the season started and mounted into a second car that we had here, with no real plans for when we were going to race it. It was about mid way through the season, the Best of the Best race was coming up (a race that Dad has had a fair amount of success in) so we started to get his car ready, but he said “why don’t we take your car down to 660” and I clearly thought he was joking or that he wanted to drive the other car. But as it worked out my first start in any type of racing ended up being in the Best of the Best 150 at Speedway 660. So basically the 2013 and 14 seasons I had chances to compete in four or five races spread out by a little over a month each, and I was so grateful to be able to have those starts. But it became apparent that to find any more improvement I would have to race more often. So in 2015 I finally got to race full time, we raced every single weekend from the middle of May until the start of October with the pro stock and a legend car. So, all in all, I may have started a little later, compared to most people these days, but we’ve been busting our butts, and are getting closer to where we need to be every single week. Dustin has been to victory lane a time or two in heat races, but is still looking for his first Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock feature victory. It’s only a matter of time Dustin!
Wade: Your Dad has a very successful race shop near Fredericton. Tucker Racing Products has become one of the best racing shops in the Maritimes. You spend a lot of time there helping build and set-up race cars. That experience must really help you as a driver.
Dustin: You could say that I live there. Like I mentioned before I live and breathe for this sport, trying to make these cars better each and every week is a challenge that I really enjoy. And as a driver it certainly does help me in most aspects such as reading and understanding what the car is doing and what I need to do to improve it, but it also gets me into trouble sometimes. There are so many things you can do to these cars that sometimes you start to over think, or “over engineer” everything and end up going backwards. I always say to people that sometimes you are better off to just know the basics so you don’t have a chance to over think them.Dustin and Shawn Tucker live and breathe racing. They work together at Tucker Racing Products and on race day you’ll find them side by side in the Speedway 660 pit area.
Wade: Tell us a little bit about your race team, sponsors and other folks who help you go racing every week.
Dustin: This isn’t just a race team, the people who make this happen are my family members and best friends. First I have to give a huge shout-out to my grandfather, Leroy, he has given me such an incredible opportunity to be able to drive and work on these beautiful cars week in and week out. None of this would be possible without his support and there could never be thanks enough for what he does for me personally and us as a team.Dustin sure appreciates the support he gets from his grandfather Leroy. Those of us who have been around the sport for a long time know that Leroy was a dominate driver back when he started the Tucker Racing Tradition!
Then there’s my father, Shawn. He’s my mentor, the man who taught me everything there is to know about these cars and this sport, the guy I got to watch race all along while I was growing up. It’s been different for both of us this season because it’s basically been a role-reversal, with me now in the driver’s seat, and him spotting. My Mom Sheri, my sister Ashley, my friend Nick Mott and my best friends Tyler and Dan are all such a big part of making racing happen for me each and every week. I also have to give a huge shout-out to all our amazing sponsors; Andy Fox (Mclaughlin Roof Trusses and Garage doors), Jon Brown (Northside Auto Parts), Dan Donovan (Bubbles Steamwash and More), Larry Gullison (A.L.Gullison Disaster Kleenup) and Tucker Racing Products. All of these amazing people make racing possible for me each and every week. Thank-you all so much.Dustin knows how important sponsors are to his race team. He thanks everyone who makes it possible for him to go racing at Speedway 660 every week.
Wade: What are your goals and objectives as a driver in the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock Division and have you thought about any long term goals?
Dustin: Our goals are about the same as every other team, and that’s to win races. We have been working our butts off to get there, and have fell short on a few occasions. We know the car is there, now we just need the driver to drive the wheels off it. But honestly, consistency is what we have for goals. Being consistent, finishing races, keeping it clean, those are our main objectives. And as for long term, I’d love to get to travel and try out some new to me tracks. Other than that, we don’t often think long term, we always just kinda take things in stride and go one lap at a time.On June 18th this year Dustin scored his first-ever podium finish in a Speedway 660 pro stock feature. That was a day that will be long remembered by this young driver.
Wade: How much advice and feedback to you get from your Dad and what’s it like sitting down with a guy who’s had so much success to talk about racing?
Dustin: He can tell me more about my car by watching it than I can by driving it… hahaha. He’s constantly giving me advice, positive feedback and pointers on everything, especially my driving. On what little things I can do to improve lap times, or on how to work someone over to make the pass, where you can be, and where you shouldn’t be. He constantly pushes me to drive the car harder and harder, to reach the end of my comfort zone and then some. I’ve come to realize, to never ever question anything he says when it comes to driving, no matter how sketchy it sounds especially when he says”Just do it, it’ll stick, just drive it hard, it’ll stick” hahahahaIn 2013 Shawn Tucker became the first driver to ever win three Pro Stock 250 races at SpeedWeekend. Dustin knows he’s pretty fortunate to have a great mentor and awesome Dad to get advice from.
Wade: We’ve seen the pro stock division grow at Speedway 660. We’ve got a half dozen rookies this year as well as several great veterans. It looks like an excellent atmosphere for a young driver to race hard and get valuable experience.
Dustin: It’s an awesome atmosphere to be racing in. And I think some of the veterans will find that they’ll have to watch out for these rookies. They are fast and clearly there to compete, so don’t be surprised if you see these kids go door-to-door with the veterans for the rest of the season.Dustin Tucker and John Rankin (#2) are two of the bright young stars who have invaded the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock Division. Both are up there in the point standings and are as competitive as any other driver on the track.
Wade: Thanks for doing this Dustin. By the way it’s nice to see the 52 back at Speedway 660. People I’ve talked to really like the red and yellow colour scheme!
Dustin: Red and yellow… the colour that wasn’t supposed to be, but it happened, and seems to have some good reviews. I guess it was time I got away from the traditional Tucker black cars and made my own identity down at 660. People no longer walk in and see the black 52 and assume it’s Shawn. They walk in and see the red and yellow 52 and know it’s me. Anyways, thank you Wade for this opportunity to tell the great fans at Speedway 660 about our racing team. We look forward to seeing everyone at the track.