Rising star Jess Turner could be on her way to a top ten finish in the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship in her first full season of Modified – and all before she has even finished high school.
The 18 year old Victorian driver currently sits eighth in the standings and with this weekend’s Lady Daly Hotel Springnationals at Adelaide International Raceway is poised to make a move even further up the ranks.
Racing comes naturally for Turner, who earned her licence for the 250kmh dragster before her one for the street and is currently completing Year 12.
“My family have been involved in drag racing since the late eighties when my dad and uncle began racing a Modified dragster,” she said. “From there dad continued to race Modified and Competition with my mum jumping in the car eventually.
“I was born into a family who already lived and breathed drag racing so my love for it was a little expected!”
Drag racing offers a unique path for young drivers with a Junior Dragster series allowing kids to go racing from as young as eight years old in miniature dragsters.
“I’d never really considered racing in a Junior Dragster until dad asked if I would be interested, I gave it a little thought and off racing we went,” Turner explained. “I always believed I would race Modified at some point so Junior Dragster was a learning step on the way.”
While Junior Dragsters provide a grounding in the basics of the sport, nothing is quite like racing in the ‘big cars’ of the Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship and Turner said it was a challenge.
“Getting into a Modified car I felt a little bit of everything – stressful, nerve wracking, exciting and definitely different,” she said. “The first hit was a little breath taking but an awesome feeling.”
Turner said people were surprised when she told them about her weekend hobby which sees her able to cover a quarter mile drag strip (402 metres) in a touch over eight seconds.
“A lot of people just look at me waiting for me to say I’m joking I think,” she said. “Apparently I’m not what a ‘drag racer’ looks like, whether that’s a compliment or not who knows!
“My friends think it’s pretty cool and different to most of the sports they have been involved in, so often they show interest in what it’s all about.”
With the Lady Daly Hotel Springnationals beginning this Friday, Turner said she is hopeful she can add to her points tally with just two rounds of the series remaining. In a unique piece of trivia, Jess’s mother Rachael Clancy won the last Springnationals, held way back in 2000.
“Honestly my goal is to win, as it is every race meet we go to, but I’d like to represent my sponsors well and ensure my family have a good weekend,” she said.
Turner will be followed this weekend by a camera crew from the Channel Ten program Totally Wild who are keen to see what drag racing is all about.
“We are looking forward to giving TV viewers an insight into drag racing as a whole and Jess Turner Motorsport,” she said.
The Aeroflow Sportsman Drag Racing Championship takes place this Friday and Saturday at Adelaide International Raceway alongside ANDRA Drag Racing Series rounds of Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.