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“Frickin’ Damn Cool!”

By on March 1, 2018
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Fitzgerald Accomplishes the Impossible in Seven Days

At GATS in Dallas during August 2017, Alex and Kenny Laughlin first approached the team from Fitzgerald Glider Kits about the possibility of building a kick-ass truck to transport Alex Laughlin’s Gas Monkey Energy Drink sponsored 2018 NHRA Pro Stock Camaro. For good measure, installing a new trailer wrap was an added challenge. Initially, it was thought that having the truck ready before the February 8-11 season opener at Pomona was the target date. But a more urgent December deadline was required as a result of TV production schedules.

Meeting the Challenge

Of the approximately 1,500 trucks in stock, only one was a perfect match. It happened to be a 2017 Peterbilt 389 rolling glider with a 58-in. flattop sleeper on a 312-in. wheelbase. Power is provided by a 60 Series Detroit running through an 18-speed Eaton. The off-white color with red frame and fenders was the only major problem, which turned out to be no problem for the multi-talented crew at Fitzgerald Collision Repair (FCR). A seven-day, seven-night plan even provided a few hours on the last day to carefully assess the week’s work against a detailed checklist.

Starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, December 11, the 389 was disassembled, the frame was prepped and painted green. The crew worked until 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday and was back in the saddle at 8:00 a.m. This early pace set the tone for the rest of the week as “no way” quickly morphed into “can do.” Drawing on years of experience and having successfully completed many rush jobs, the FCR crew marshalled the necessary resources and confidently went about their business.

fitz-2Simultaneously, a crew of five from SignSmith in Crossville, TN arrived for the multiday process of removing the race trailer wrap and installing the new 2018 version. Shortly after the newly painted frame exited the paint booth, the Fitzgerald team started installing the major pieces on Tuesday morning: cab, sleeper, hood and engine. The build took a good bit of planning as all of the custom parts and components were gathered and staged on the floor adjacent to the 389 Pete. Many parts needed painting or polishing. A crew of five from Almost Chrome out of Nashville came in and polished the trailer, wheels, grille, step boxes, fuel tanks and many other small parts in preparation for reassembly. They worked vigorously to finish everything in only one day.

fitz-4Arriving from Indiana on Wednesday morning, Brian Davis and his crew from Davis Bros. came down to help layout the paint scheme designed by Brian Bourke. By Wednesday night, the truck was prepped and rolled into the paint booth, awaiting its bright green and black accents. With detailed planning, no wasted motion and great coordination with reliable specialty suppliers, the work progressed smoothly.

On Thursday morning, final reassembly commenced. With a combined team of 10 from Fitzgerald Glider Kits and FCR, the truck took its final form over the next few days and rolled out just in time for the trip to Dallas for its debut appearance at Gas Monkey Garage. When the truck rolled in, the guys from Fast N’ Loud along with Alex and Kenny Laughlin laid eyes on this beauty for the first time.

RR-GMG“Most of drag racing is cheatin’, and the other half is showin’ off. We’re going to try covering both, but this truck is definitely showin’ off. The Fitzgerald boys killed it on this one! Not only was there a short timeframe like there always is with us; but when we finally pulled the trigger, they were able to get it done. It’s frickin’ damn cool! They had this thing in a million pieces. It really impressed me, ‘cause we do things really, really fast at Gas Monkey, but this is a giant truck. In seven days, they pulled it all apart, rolled the frame in, got it all painted, and put it all back together. Everything is super brand new and ready to rock. We’re good, but I don’t think we could do that at Gas Monkey.”

– Richard Rawlings, Owner of Gas Monkey Garage

Lucky 7

The truck name is derived from all the lights that are in 7s including the T-bars, visor, breather, etc. Also, Alex Laughlin’s birthday is on the 7th, and Lucky No. 7 just fit well with the fact this rig is hauling an NHRA Pro Stock race car, plus the seven-day build. Fitzgerald Glider Kits will be an associate sponsor for 23 of the 24 NHRA races during 2018, and will be the primary sponsor when the traveling show visits Bristol, TN for the June 15-17 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

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