This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue.
Sarah Neal had grown up watching tractor pulls at Buck Motorsports Park in Lancaster, Pa., but it was when her father first bought a 1997 Ford F250 7.3L that her life was irrevocably changed. As soon as she turned 16, Sarah inherited the old diesel from her father and started using it as her daily driver.
Her fate was sealed.
“That set me as a Ford girl for life,” she grins.
When Buck Motorsports began holding truck pulls, Sarah was in heaven.
“I was like, ‘This is awesome!’ I watched for a few years, then started competing as well,” she remembers.
Once she started getting involved with the truck pulls, Sarah decided to start saving so she could pay for some upgrades for the old 7.3L. As soon as she earned the money, she invested in installing a lift kit and upgrading her diesel’s wheels and tires. Sarah then started frequenting Young’s Farm Service and Repair to talk about what her options for more modifications were.
“Trent Young and Josh Shultz are great to work with,” Sarah says.
Through their collaboration the threesome decided to go for the TS Performance 6-Position Chip, and Sarah was happy to see horsepower gains to the rear wheels and increased fuel economy for when she was putting miles in as a daily driver. An ATS Stage 2 Auto Transmission Package followed, which included an ATS-built E4OD Auto Trans, 5 Star Viskus Clutch Drive Torque Converter, Extra Deep Transmission Pan, and a Billet Input Shaft. Sarah also saved up for some 80hp injectors and a cold air intake to stack on more horsepower and keep her engine cool. Some new gauges to add style and keep an eye on during her competitions rounded out the modification work on her 7.3L.
And after everything done so far, Sarah can say she’s more than happy with it.
“I’m really proud of how the old truck ran. No, it wasn’t the fastest or the strongest. But it was mine, and for what it was, it did good. It was a strong truck,” Sarah praises. “We took care of the weak points with the mods I did to overall make the truck decent.”
No Stopping Now
Sarah decided it was time to invest in a second vehicle. Yes, she knew it had to be a truck, yes, she knew it had to be a diesel, and yes, she knew her own preferences and was going to hunt down another Ford. There are some people who pick fights over brand names, but Sarah is more laid back about her loyalty.
“I don’t have any problems with other makes. I just have a soft spot for Fords,” she shrugs. “So when it came time to find a new truck, I knew I wanted to stay with a Ford and went with the 2014 6.7L.”
Though she sled pulled and started dabbling in drag racing with her 7.3L, she wanted to use her newest addition exclusively for drag racing. After buying her truck, Sarah headed back to Trent and Josh at Young’s Farm Service and Repair. This shop, already familiar with Sarah and her tastes in modification work, have done everything on her trucks and they had a good system worked out.
“I tell them what I want out of the truck and we discuss the best options,” Sarah explains.
For the 6.7L, the game plan started out with a leveling kit and an H&S Mini Maxx. This combination of high performance tuning and the complete set of digital gauges would enable her to shift between four different power levels at the drop of a hat with automatic de-fueling for great flexibility in performance.
“My plans for the future with my 6.7L are to do an intake and honestly leave it alone,” Sarah says. “It runs awesome, and I’m happy with it.”
Two And Counting?
With the re-worked 7.3L and 6.7L both under her belt, Sarah couldn’t be more pleased. After all, as a volunteer firefighter with the Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company in Shrewsbury, Pa., having a reliable daily driver is just as important as having a bred-for-competition ride that she can enjoy taking to the track.
Now that she has two trucks, the big question is whether Sarah could see herself eventually chasing after a third diesel. She has a good trend going, after all.
The answer, for the record, is an enthusiastic yes.
“I would love to find an old body style and build another pull truck one day…it’s definitely on my list of things to do!” she enthuses.
Because it goes without even asking that Sarah will keep frequenting Buck Motorsports Park for the rush of the competitions.
“The diesel industry is another family and some of the greatest people and memories I have are from truck pulls! I have a lot of great people in my life that are very knowledgeable with diesels,” Sarah says. “I would love to see more girls in the diesel industry…but for the right reasons! Do it because you love the trucks and the competition (if that’s your thing); don’t do it for the attention and the less-than-classy pictures.”
And if anyone can attest to loving the trucks and the competition, it’s Sarah Neal, who says, “I always laugh when I drag race at the Buck if I beat the truck I’m running and the announcers say, ‘Aww, he got beat by a girl.’ It cracks me up and makes my night!”
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ATS Diesel Performance
Buck Motorsports Park
Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company
Young’s Farm Service and Repair