The naysayers said it couldn’t be done. No two-wheel-drive truck was supposed to dominate the Diesel Hot Rod Association’s (DHRA’s) Pro Street Truck class. But after two event wins this year, several performance records set, and the 2006 DHRA Pro Street championship in the bag, Team Green and their 1994 Dodge Ram 2500 have made believers of even the most die-hard skeptics.
Led by team owner Earl Stuckey, a concrete construction company owner in Calvery, Georgia, Team Green features Philip Palmer (at left) behind the wheel and Robert Donalson (at right) calling the shots pitside.
“When we got together, us three, it’s just made a real dynamic team,” Palmer said during a recent test session at U.S. 19 Dragway in Albany, Georgia. “We set goals, we accomplished goals, and with that comes rewards and the biggest reward of all was the championship. That’s a really big deal for us, especially since it was one of the goals we set at the start of the year.”
Stuckey says the current team came together after Donalson, a fuel injection technician with Shiver Diesel in Tifton, Georgia, built a new injection pump for it and Palmer, owner of Palmer Automotive Machine in nearby Thomasville, began working on the engine blocks. He agrees with Donalson that although “friendly acquaintances,” they were not really close friends until embarking on their racing mission together. Now, it’s not possible to speak with one without the other’s names popping up in conversation.
“I think very highly of Philip and Robert,” Stuckey says. “Their work ethic, their morals, their professionalism, their teamwork, it’s all very top notch and that’s why we make such a good team, I think.”
Previously, Stuckey’s son Matt handled the driving chores, but an up-on-two-wheels moment at over 110 mph made him uncomfortable in the seat. Stuckey recalls telling Palmer about the incident and lamenting he’d have to find a new driver. “You just found one,” Palmer told him.
Then Donalson came on board as the catalyst that sent Team Green to the next level. “I knew Robert was talented with the injection systems, but I didn’t realize what a great mechanic he is all around on diesel engines,” Stuckey says. “He really helped us step up to become a first-class team.”
Their first time out as a trio, the new combo struck pay dirt, winning the DHRA race at Atlanta Dragway last summer. Despite running in only three of six events in 2005, they finished third in Pro Street points.
This year, after missing the DHRA opener at Martin, Michigan, Team Green finished runner-up at Bristol, Tennessee, but established new E.T. and speed records of 10.33 seconds and 134.64 mph along the way. Next up was Indianapolis, where they raised the official speed mark to 139.10 and again reached the final round, which was rained out, resulting in a points and purse split.
At Rockingham Dragway, Team Green went 9.98 seconds—marking the first nine-second run in the history of the class—and went on to win the event, though they were unable to back up the .98 within the required one percent for an official record. Next, a return to Atlanta Dragway resulted in a return to victory lane, and then at the season ender at Houston (TX) Raceway Park, the south-Georgia trio put together an incredible 9.900-seconds pass and officially set new records at 10.05 and 143.27 mph before rain again washed away all eliminations.