Home / Monster Trucks / Acquaintance to Friend: Honoring “Diesel” Dave Radzierez

Acquaintance to Friend: Honoring “Diesel” Dave Radzierez

As a group, motorsports in general is a very difficult genre to find people that stick around on a personal level.  Interests, life experiences, location; all these could be reasons.  But, to get to know someone outside of a particular sport is hard to do, because some may be friends, but there’s not many that could stick around for years upon years.

This is likely why the monster truck industry as a whole is so cohesive.  For the most part, drivers, crews, owners, all become friends because they see one another so much and all have a common, cohesive goal.  Not to win a race, nor a championship, although both are individual goals that teams and drivers all want to accomplish.

However, the end goal in this industry is to ensure the fans enjoy the product.

Personally, I have made friends in the industry for different reasons, but some leave because they had new opportunities come, and others just drifted away.  Some stick around so long, they become family, a monster family, that constantly puts others before themselves.  They become innovative, and put everything into their desire to step away from the norm and make their own path to greatness.

That is exactly how Dave Radzierez made an impact in the sport.

He was not one that wanted to just follow the leader in the industry, become another “cookie cutter” truck that could be compared to many others.  Radzierez wanted to do things his way, and he did that when he piloted Hushpower, a 10,000-lb truck that was powered by a Cummins diesel.  It was quiet, yet powerful.  There was something different about the path he was going down, and it was bringing fans into an era that had not been seen in a modern truck.  Diesel monster trucks only till that time were seen in the 1980s, thanks to King Kong, Texas Toy, and Rollin’ Thunder.

The XDP diesel truck caught the eye of many fans, and many in the industry.

The idea of a tube-chassis truck that had a diesel was not something the modern fan had seen, but it peaked interest.

Hushpower soon became Air Dog, thanks to a new sponsorship, and some improvements, the truck began to perform with the audience really taking a liking to the machine.

It was not until 2012 when the desire to put a diesel on the track, not just as an exhibition, really allowed Radzierez to make his impact.  XDP became an iconic truck, and even when it was new, he was showing the truck wasn’t one to sleep on.  Year after year, the truck improved, as did Radzierez, and his fan base.

Radzierez and I first met in this early time of XDP, and over the course of nearly a decade, being acquaintances yielded to being friends, not just because of the trucks.

Radzierez would talk about just life, family, and things outside of machines that had a lot of power and size.  He would congratulate my sister on her wedding, a wedding where I was the photographer.  He asked how I was holding up when my grandmother died.  That’s the kind of individual he was outside of the truck, away from the hauler, and he made sure that when the time came to part company, he left an impact.

The moment that stands out to me the most about the kind of individual Radzierez was came in 2017.  My first show that I was given the opportunity to be the point photographer, the primary position, happened in mid-July in Illinois.  That two-day show ended up being a very warm, very tiring, event.  With highs each day of 99, a heat index above 110, staying cool became even more important than working on the trucks.

The hauler for Radzierez, despite being big and roomy, was not staying as cool to ensure that his rottweilers stayed as cool as they needed to be.

In order to make the dogs more comfortable, he needed a second air conditioner, one that could do the job for those warm weekends as a secondary unit.  No one had a vehicle big enough to haul an AC unit, unless they stuck out the roof or the AC unit was on a big trailer.  Since I had my truck, I told him to load up, I’ll drive him down the road to get one.

We stayed in Lowe’s and a quick stop at Menards for maybe 20 minutes, talking about experiences and what was next for his truck, since it took on the new Xtreme Diesel identity.

Other teams saw his ability, and Radzierez ran each truck just as hard. His final ride prior to the pandemic, Bigfoot #21.

After leaving the latter stop, I surprised Radzierez with an artwork of his new-looking ride, with the diesel engine that he was planning to put in after his time running the alcohol motor concluded due to indoor commitments.  He was speechless because it was the one to match all the eras of his truck, from start to current.  He reached into his pocket and gave me money for my troubles taking him to get the unit, and for the artwork.  I tried to say it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted because the effort I put into it meant time, and materials.

Putting others first, that’s Radzierez.

The last time I saw him was four years ago, at what was one of my final shows before the pandemic halted almost all entertainment, or just family gatherings, across the country.  He would take a different job to keep money coming in, since he was at the time working for Bigfoot as a team driver during first quarter.  With no shows, no travel, he kept busy, and still made sure to see how I was doing, and how things had changed for me.

Whether it was for my birthday, seeing what I did to celebrate, or seeing how my dad was doing after his broken leg landed him in the hospital, Radzierez was a true friend.

Everyone he knew would say the same thing.  He was a big part of the monster family, and left an impact on many over the years.

We lost touch a little bit the last couple years, but I never once could feel prepared when I got notified that he was no longer with us.  It felt like a family member had been taken away.  I had friends who I would talk to in the industry, and outside, give condolences, not understanding that the “Diesel Dave” that was my friend was a lot more than an owner/driver in my favorite sport.  He was a true extended member of the family.

There are no words to describe the impact Radzierez had on the sport.  In pro wrestling terms, he was over with the fans.  He was loved, admired, and respected.  He was a friend, and one that continued to try to innovate his own way in the sport.

Radzierez made “rollin’ coal” look really mean in a 12,000-pound machine, and we all loved it.

What can be said about someone who had an impact on so many, from infants to the elder generation.  What words could be spoken about someone who wrote their own chapter in an industry eclipsing 45 years.  It’s impossible because there’s not enough time to even remotely try to put the right sentences together.  Radzierez will forever be one of a kind in the monster truck world.

Dave, for everyone that you left an impression on, and for everything you have done for this industry, I say this on behalf of the Hushpower, Air Dog, XDP and Xtreme Diesel fans that stuck with you through it all.

Thank you.  God speed.  You will be greatly missed.

About Dustin Parks

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