This article originally featured in the May 2022 issue.
For this month’s Power of Pink feature we head north of the border to Ontario, a Canadian province where Tash Walker has spent most of her life. She grew up riding motocross, BMX and horses, and this last hobby turned into a job in her adulthood. For the last ten years Tash has owned, and lived at, a horse stable where she imports horses from Europe to sell in North America. These past ten years have also seen her teaching riding lessons, running a competitive show jumping program and building her 1997 RAM 2500 with a 12-valve Cummins engine.
Hours Spent In The Garage
Her love for diesels began in high school when Tash did a co-op at an auto garage for big rigs and transports. That turned into machinery work including a backhoe with a 4BT Cummins. That’s when she first started to fall in love with the Cummins engine.
“I prefer a diesel over gas when speaking specifically about Cummins,” Tash said, “because of how heavy duty they are made and the pure power and torque that can be made on a majority of stock parts.”
Tash feels Cummins spared nothing when it came to the motors by both quality, simplicity and durability and believes the engine can truly last a lifetime if taken care of properly.
“The potential these trucks have to turn into an incredible race truck or towing monster is unmatched,” added Tash, “something a gas truck is not capable of.
Her first truck was a third-gen, six-speed dually, but in 2016 she found what she was looking for: a bone stock truck that didn’t have anyone else's fingerprints on it. She got it from a guy who bought it brand-new off the lot to tow his snowmobiles around, but hadn’t made any modifications to it. It was perfect.
What she thought was just a project truck quickly and unexpectedly became so much more. The same year she bought the truck, her mother–who was also her best friend–passed away. The truck became a source of healing and coping as the plethora of modifications helped her work through the grief.
“The more hours I spent in the garage working on the truck, the easier it was for me to deal with what I was going through,” explained Tash.
The result of those hours and hours of work over the past six years is nothing short of impressive. She started by increasing the fueling with a FASS fuel system, 5x18 injectors and a 5-inch straight piped exhaust. The improved fuel called for a bigger turbo, but not long after that the transmission kicked the lid.
Tash had a new trans built that could handle what the motor was putting out and upgraded the rear axle while she was at it, but tragedy struck again when the head blew off the block. This started a long process of putting in a new head, fire ring, valve springs, push rods, head gasket, ARP 625 head studs and the famous Killer Dowel Pin, which aligns the aluminum timing gear housing to the engine. Following these changes, the RAM got its name, [Red Rocket].
Additional upgrades included a 6-inch BDS lift, 20-inch Fuel Sabers wrapped in 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers, Fuel wheels, a custom grille and a fourth generation bumper, but the Canadian winters started to take its toll on the build. Salt worked its way through the body and Tash was up for the challenge. She wasn’t quitting on the truck that easily.
“My truck means a lot to me in many ways so I couldn’t stand to see it slowly starting to rot away, especially after all the work I’ve put into it,” said Tash. “I was never big on the outside appearance and never spent a lot of time and effort into having the snazziest-looking truck; I preferred the fastest, of course, but I definitely could not stand the rust so I knew it was time to make the outside match what was underneath the hood.”
The makeover started in the spring of 2021. She took the diesel down to its frame and cleaned it up. Tash bought a cab and box from the southern U.S., which came rust-free but not dent-free. She learned the auto body work necessary to fix it up and by that fall, [Red Rocket] was put back together and ready to continue its work hauling around horses on the farm. All the hard work paid off for Tash.
“I started this truck as a teenage girl and learned how to work on diesels and appreciate how well-built and user-friendly the Cummins motor is,” she said, “especially the 12-valve. I got to learn as I went and really make some serious power without totally breaking the bank.”
Tash closed her horse business last fall and has her eyes set on relocating to Texas. Horses to diesels, Canada to Texas: Tash clearly isn’t afraid of change. In Texas she’ll continue her work on [Red Rocket], which will include a trans upgrade, Banks Twin RAM intake and Mishimoto intercooler. Even after those changes it will probably never be enough for Tash, especially with what this truck means to her.
“I plan to keep learning and growing my knowledge about diesels and trucks in general,” Tash concluded. “There are always new things to learn, new tricks, new ways and new tools. That’s what makes it most exciting: there’s always something new. This build means a lot to me as it has helped me through many hard times and has been with me through so many important years. I have a very strong emotional hold on my truck. It truly helps fill part of my life that was left when I lost my mom. It has brought a hobby to share with my brother who is one of the most important people in my life.”
The plan is to keep [Red Rocket] going long enough to pass on to her kids one day. With the Cummins engine, this might just be possible.
FASS Fuel Systems
Fuel Off-Road Wheels