Racing rig

When you need a dual cab heavy vehicle is there a better option out there than an old fire truck?

Dave Donegan has been racing cars for almost 30 years, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

His dad and his grandad both raced speedway, so the need for speed is in his blood – and he’s been passionate about it ever since he was a child.

“I started racing when I was 14 and I’m very much still in the thick of it,” he says.

“As I get older, I am definitely more aware of the risks but I’m also more excited about it than ever.

“I love the speed and the adrenaline, I love the challenge, and I love the family and friends element.

“It’s my happy place.”

Donegan, who runs his own underground drilling business, Donnaz Undergrounds, says his company’s success has allowed him to compete at the top level and do lots of travelling around Australia and the US.

“It’s one of those things, opportunities are mainly for young people, so we’ve been creating our own opportunities.

“We go to Darwin once a year, we go to Queensland, and we race at the top level over in America.”

While we love cars, we’re more about trucks here at Deals on Wheels – and the reason we got in touch with Donegan was a very special rig of his that we spotted at the Alexandra Truck Show.

The truck, which was a pandemic project, is a converted American fire truck.

“I was looking for a truck to carry all of our crew,” he says.

“When we go racing, there’s normally about four or five of us.

“So we needed a dual cab, and dual cab trucks are predominantly fire trucks.

“I started searching for fire trucks and eventually this one came up at an auction.

“Fire trucks are hard to find but we were just in the right place at the right time.”

The truck when Dave got it

The vehicle previously belonged to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, and was a classic red fire truck when Donegan got his hands on it in early 2020.

“It’s a 2001 model so it was probably just getting a bit old for the fire department to hold on to.

“It was built for Australia but it’s obviously an American style.

“It’s American LaFrance, who went out of business in 2014.

“It had a big foam system on the back and a big pumper when I got it.”

After he got it home to Healesville in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Donegan and his dad got to work converting into the truck of his dreams.

“We removed the back half of the truck, which had all the pumping tanks and stuff on it.

“We built it into a prime mover that was able to tow a racecar trailer.

The truck during restoration

“We then painted it white, because we like white things!

“And we got a local guy, Simon Smirk, to do the signwriting on it, to make it our own. He’s very good.

He added: “The truck is called Engine 75. This is our race car number and it is painted in gold on the front of the truck.

“On fire engines in America they name all of their fire trucks and label them with gold flake paint for good luck.”

Donegan races under the name Mint Pig Racing, and the truck features a logo of a pig, which was designed by his wife Renee.

“She has a lot to do with the design and promotional stuff like our Facebook page, Donnaz Mint Pig Racing. She’s fantastic.

“We have a quirky name for each of our cars, based around the pig, and we have a picture of a pig giving the thumbs up on all of the cars.

“The kids love it and it gives them a reason to be at the racetrack and have a car to follow if their parents drag them along to the races.

“We try to make it fun for them, so the sport keeps growing and the next generation grow up interested in racing.”

Overall, it took about a year to finish the conversion of the truck and Donegal says the most difficult part of the process was sourcing parts.

Take one old firetruck, add imagination and you have the perfect race transporter

“We had to order a lot of the parts from America, but luckily it is a Freightliner chassis so a lot of the Freightliner stuff is more easily available.”

He can’t get over how many truck enthusiasts there are out there, and says the reaction to his rig has been huge.

“We have people stopping us in the middle of the street,” he says.

“Obviously fire trucks are big in America and our one is a bit different so people get very excited about it.”

He’s really happy with the truck and says it’s a lot of fun to drive.

“We love it. My two dogs are part of the team and they love it when I say ‘Hey, we’re going racing in the truck.’

“They both go running over to it and stand next to the door.

“When we’re going to Darwin it takes four days to get there and we need to be able to carry everything that long distance.

“The truck has been really reliable, it hasn’t given me any problems at all. It’s a really great truck.”

Send this to a friend