Ashley Alstad, 28, doesn’t just enjoy the diesel industry. She lives it as a hobby and a career choice right along with her boyfriend, Justin Sherba; both are of Wembley, Alberta, Canada. Monday through Friday, you will find the couple at work at Supreme Diesel and on the weekends they compete in drag and other diesel events together.
Three years ago, Alstad went looking for a career change and ended up doing data entry for Supreme Diesel. Her boyfriend is the shop foreman and it seemed like a good fit because she enjoyed sharing in his passion for diesel trucks. She has quickly moved up in the company and these days she spends 65-70 hours a week heading up the parts and service department for the Sexmith, Alberta diesel performance and repair shop.
Diesel really is Alstad’s life. Her truck is a 2004.5 Dodge Ram.
“This is the first diesel I’ve ever owned,” says Alstad. “I used to drive just whatever I could afford.”
Alstad grew up on a farm and was always more concerned with tractors and dirt than with dolls and dresses.
“I was the girl who played baseball with the boys and constantly played in the dirt,” laughs Alstad. “I was always drawn to more ‘guy’ things.”
Alstad and Sherba met in high school and started out as friends. The relationship evolved into a romantic partnership and the couple have been together ever since. Sherba started to get more and more into performance parts and soon Alstad realized how exciting diesel trucks can be.
“We were at an event at Mission Raceway Park and our boss was planning on racing our shop truck, but when our own truck broke down, he let Justin drive his instead and he ended up winning so now he represents Supreme Diesel,” says Alstad. “Since he was becoming so involved, I started getting involved.”
From then on, Alstad dove head first into learning everything she could about the diesel industry. She learned quickly by reading forums and books, watching videos and asking a lot of questions. Before long, she realized competing in a drag event would be right up her alley.
“Once I started getting into it, Justin and I spent the winter building my Ram,” says Alstad. “We had two goals when we started the build: a single turbo setup and running mid-11-second quarter-mile times.”
Building Her Truck
The truck started out as an ordinary Dodge daily driver to get the couple to and from work. Alstad and Sherba put so much sweat and money into the truck, they shifted it from a daily driver to a drag queen.
“It started out as a weekend warrior, where all of our time and money was going into the truck,” says Alstad. “After a tuner, intake, and exhaust, we decided to turn it into a dedicated drag racing truck.”
The two-month build started by stripping the engine down to a bare block and it was sent to the machine shop. The bottom end of the engine was stock, except for changing from the common-rail crankshaft and connecting rods to a stronger 12-valve crank and rods. Alstad added a Stage 4 Colt cam, RPS Diesel custom pushrods, Hamilton 110-pound valve springs, and Harland Sharp roller rockers and bolted the head down with ARP head studs.
“This truck is an ’04 and a half, but we decided to run the ’03 Cummins pistons, which were ceramic- and Teflon-coated and decked,” says Alstad. “Next, we pulled the wiring harness apart, removed any unnecessary connectors and terminals from the engine end, and reinstalled it in the truck.”
At this point, the couple started adding more parts. Alstad has BD Diesel Performance 200hp injectors, BD Diesel Dual CP3 kit, which is fed by a 150 gph FASS fuel pump. She also decided on a BD Diesel S475 turbo with the new Turbine Diverter Valve, which helps spool the larger single turbochargers. For her tranny, she went with BD’s Track Master Transmission with converter and flex plate and manual valve body and Opie Phat Shafts.
The truck also has BD Diesel Performance Intercooler, BD Diesel Performance Diverter Valve, Stage 4 Colt Cam, Custom RPS Diesel Pushrods and Flo-Pro Performance single stack. The Silver Bullet Tuning handles the EFILive.
If you see a pattern here, you are definitely on to something.
“I have every product made by BD on my truck,” laughs Alstad. “They really are the best and BD and Flo-Pro have helped me become more competitive.”
Once the truck was built, she started becoming serious about drag racing
“I was definitely a little nervous in the beginning,” says Alstad. “I needed to learn how to spool the turbo, stage the truck, and shift the B&M Mega truck shifter, but the first race was so exciting and I was hooked.”
Alstad had a great 2013 season in the 1190 class and hit her fastest time at Ponci’s Diesel Days in Fortuna, Calif.
“This was our second year attending the event, and it’s always well worth the 3,000-mile trip. This year, we were hoping for some great times, as the track is below sea level and we just needed some good air and track prep,” says Alstad. “The first pass of the day was a new fastest mph and e.t. (elapsed time) for me, 11.40 seconds at 119 mph, and I was spinning off the line.”
That wasn’t all she had though. With more heat in the track, her second pass of the day was a new record, 11.37 seconds with a top speed of 119 mph.
“When you go that fast, you have adrenaline and nerves and butterflies in your stomach,” says Alstad. “You have to get over the paranoia that something is going break and run oil down the truck. You have to forget about everything but the race.”
Luckily, her parents have been supportive of their daughter’s racing desires and even agree to watch her dogs as she travels around Canada and the U.S. for diesel events.
Women In Diesel
Since Alstad not only works in the diesel industry and is one of a small handful who regularly participates in drag racing, she has seen it all when it comes to women in diesel.
“There are all of kinds of women out there; it’s a mixed lot. There are people like Kat Ray, Katie Pajestka and Heather Powell who are helping build our industry,” says Alstad. “On the other hand, you’ll find the sexist side of things which hinders the sport for women.”
As for her, you’ll find Alstad to be down-to-earth and an excellent example of what women in diesel can do when they put their minds to it.
“I’m always easygoing instead of being overly concerned about winning,” says Alstad. “For me, I’m happy to be there.”
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