Some people like to spend money and some like to save it. Jimmy Ganski (31) of JC Ganski Inc. in Shantytown, WI was often told by friends about all the things he should buy, and his common response was, “Can’t afford it!” Well, either Jimmy changed his way of thinking or he just hit the big time, but either way, he finally let loose of some of that tightly held cash and now owns and operates an amazing combination, which just happens to be the one featured here (and on our cover and centerfold) this month.
Born and raised in central Wisconsin, Jimmy grew up in a trucking family. Jimmy’s dad Connie started driving in 1980 and is still trucking today. Living on the same property his grandparents once lived on, Jimmy and his family recently built a beautiful new home, which is next to the old barn his grandparents built in the early 1950s. Moving to this place in 1949, his grandparents, Ray and Jeanette Ganski, operated a small dairy farm for many years. After they passed away, Jimmy’s parents, Connie and Kathy Ganski, bought the property in 1999. A couple years ago, Connie offered Jimmy a partial parcel on the property, to build his own house, in hopes of keeping the land in the family.
As a young boy growing up with three siblings, two older brothers and an older sister, Jimmy didn’t understand what it meant to provide for a family. Out on the road trucking, Jimmy’s dad wasn’t home much, and this put a strain on their relationship. Jimmy was active in sports like baseball and football, but his dad rarely ever made it to a game. It wasn’t until after Jimmy graduated from high school in 2007 that he and his dad finally found something to bond together with – and that was racing!
After convincing his dad to fund a team, Jimmy Ganski Racing was established, and for the following ten years, they had a lot of fun racing stock cars. Jimmy’s older brother Brian was the crew chief and the guy responsible for setting up the car, so it was truly a family affair. Racing mostly in the Big 8 Late Model Series around the Midwest, Jimmy often ran with some famous guys like Ty Majeski, Ross Kenseth (Matt’s son), Johnny Sauter, and Cody Coughlin, just to name a few. With moderate success but many great memories, the pinnacle of Jimmy’s racing career came when he won the Larry Detjens Memorial Race in the Limited Late Model class at State Park Speedway in Wausau, WI in 2013.
Racing, of course, was not a full-time job, so after high school, Jimmy started working with his brother-in-law at his landscape service and clearing snow in the winter (a popular job in this part of the world). After about three years, he got a job at American Asphalt as a laborer on a paving crew and also got his CDL. He did this for about three years, as well. Every winter, all of the workers at this company would get laid off and collect unemployment throughout the frozen months, when work could not be done, before returning back to work in the spring.
Being a company driver for most of his trucking career, Jimmy’s dad worked for many outfits over the years, including H.O. Wolding Trucking, 4-Way Express, and USF Holland. In 2013, he retired from USF Holland, but the thought of “doing nothing” scared Connie to death, so he decided to buy a truck (a 2004 Peterbilt 387) and become an owner operator. This one decision would change the outlook of the entire family – for the better – as Jimmy and both of his brothers are now owner operators, as well. With Jimmy recently laid off for the winter and Connie running refrigerated LTL to Miami every week, he told Jimmy to pack his bags, because he was gonna take him trucking and teach him the ropes.
After spending five or six months on the road with his dad and learning a lot, Jimmy got a job at UPS running line haul between their hubs. Trucking at night pulling doubles out of their facility in Middleton, WI, Jimmy did this for about nine months and then decided if he was going to be a trucker, it was going to be on his terms. Around the end of 2014, he called his dad and told him that he was ready to buy his own truck and be an owner operator. A week later, he purchased his first truck – a 2012 Kenworth T660. With ISX power under the hood hooked to a 10-speed transmission, this simple red truck was nothing fancy. Pulling a 2004 Wabash spread-axle reefer he also bought, Jimmy thought he had hit the big time, and began hauling the same type of freight his dad was running.
Running for D & G Transportation out of Germantown, WI, Jimmy quickly upgraded his older trailer to a 2014 polished stainless Great Dane spread-axle reefer and painted parts of it red to match his truck. After two years, in February of 2017, he bought the truck you see here from a guy in Iowa. Originally ordered and built as a glider kit with a 6NZ Cat engine hooked to an 18-speed with a 280” wheelbase, the 2014 Peterbilt 389 with a 60” flattop sleeper was not used very much, but the guy who originally built it did a lot of the work you see here today, including the red paint and white stripes (with no outlines), painting the fuel and air tanks red, and adding many of the accessories.
When Jimmy got the truck it only had about 100,000 miles on it, and the Viper Red paint matched his trailer perfectly, so he put it right to work. Not long after that, with the ELD mandate becoming a big story, Jimmy decided to yank out the 6NZ, which only had 174,000 miles on it, and replace it with a fully rebuilt 3406 Caterpillar (a pre-emission engine that is e-log exempt). Since Jimmy mostly runs on flat land, he did not need extra power, so he kept the factory 550-hp motor stock, but they did paint it all red with white air intake tubes and valve covers, and painted many of the other under-hood accessories either red or white, as well.
For the next two years, Jimmy ran this clean combination as-is, but then his friends began bugging him to do more to it and enter it into some shows. So, in January of 2020, the first thing he did was have Scott’s Heavy Truck & Trailer in Schofield, WI stretch the wheelbase to 325 inches. Once the stretch was completed, Jimmy’s vision for the project began to get more focused. Over the next seven months, while still running the truck full-time, he did a bunch of work to the truck and also ordered a new trailer, as well, with the intent of debuting the fresh combination at the Waupun Truck-n-Show in August of 2020. With zero days to spare, the truck made its scheduled debut – and cleaned house at the show in Waupun!
Adding to what was already done to the exterior of the rig or replacing items altogether, the end result features five bullet-style cab lights, stainless drop visors (front and rear) from 12 Ga. Customs, a 20” Valley Chrome bumper, 7” pipes from Lincoln Chrome, and stainless battery/step box covers from 12 Ga. Customs with billet step plates from Iowa Customs. Other exterior details include Hogebuilt stainless half fenders, painted cab and sleeper drop panels, chopped breather screens, mirror brackets from 12 Ga. Customs, and a painted shock box cover, also from 12 Ga. Customs. Jimmy had 12 Ga. Customs make a stainless differential cover panel, as well as a stainless “I-panel” between the fuel tanks and a custom rear light bar, both with recessed LED lights to match the back of his trailer. When Jimmy bought the truck it already had the white stripes, but he had the charcoal gray outlines added. A custom painted aluminum deck plate, made by Scott’s Heavy Truck & Trailer, rounds out the exterior accessories and details.
Moving inside the cab and sleeper, Jimmy did much of the work here. When he bought the truck, the dash panels were painted red and there was a custom painted shelf, made by Tuffy’s Custom Woods, mounted overhead above the windshield. Jimmy added an aluminum floor and custom aluminum door panels, both painted red with white stripes, by Barry Myers in nearby Rosholt, WI. Jimmy also repainted the steering wheel red, had the ceiling insert panel wrapped with his company logo, added polished seat bases, billet pedals, and a chrome shifter cover with a red glitter shift knob. Adding watermelon LED lights under the dash and on the ceiling, he also installed etched (with his last name) and polished door sill plates from Rockwood. Back in the sleeper, a red shelf from Iowa Customs was added, along with a refrigerator, and a custom bedspread and throw pillow which each feature different family photos printed on them.
Just a few weeks before the big unveiling in Waupun, the new 2021 Great Dane reefer trailer arrived after being ordered and customized by Eby Trailer in Blue Ball, PA. The 54’ trailer features a 12’-6” fixed spread, painted upper and lower rails, painted rear doors, polished hardware, and a painted fuel tank, mounted horizontally underneath the trailer, with a large mudflap hanging in front of it to help protect the paint from the elements. They also installed an Earl Martin air system, with four air tanks, that allow Jimmy to lift, dump, or over-inflate either axle, which makes the long trailer much more maneuverable. Fitted with a Carrier Vector 8600MT unit, painted red to match, this sharp trailer has plenty of extra lights, and the entire undercarriage was painted red by Billy Dean.
Finishing all the work on the truck and trailer just in time, the combination was taken to the Waupun Truck-n-Show in Waupun, WI on the weekend of August 14-15 (2020) where it, and Jimmy, made their truck show debut. Jimmy had attended a few truck shows over the years, but he had never competed in any. With lots of help from his friends and family, including Tyler Hintz, Mike “Whitey” Wykhuis, and Jason Cherek, along with an amazing cleaning job by Dan at Dan’s Auto Detailing in Hatley, WI (who made that old paint come back to life and look brand new), and a great polishing job (as always) by Evan at Evan’s Detailing & Polishing in Chilton, WI, the truck ended up earning awards for Best Combo, Best Reefer, Best DOT-Legal Lights, and Best of Show in the Diamond class. Not bad for his first attempt at competing!
Shortly after the show in Waupun, Jimmy and his “crew” headed to Britt, IA for the No Coast Large Cars Truck Show held on Labor Day Weekend (September 5-6, 2020) where the rig, once again, earned many prestigious awards, including 1st place in its combo class, People’s Choice, and Best of Show. Jimmy’s dad missed the awards ceremony in Waupun and was really disappointed, so he made sure to be there in Britt – and he was so proud to see his son get those accolades after all his hard work. And with over 410,000 miles on the truck today, this thing really does work every day.
As much as Jimmy loves his truck and trucking, his family is the most important thing in his life. Living next door to his parents (who have been married for 47 years) and trucking with his dad has allowed them to build a great relationship. After they quit racing stock cars and lost that bonding time, trucking became the new glue that kept them together, along with Jimmy’s two older brothers – Brian (46) and Bobby (44) – who are both single truck owner operators like Jimmy. Their sister Tanya (39) works in the insurance industry. Jimmy married his wife Karla in 2018, and the couple has three amazing kids – Emma (14), Nolan (11), and Greysen (4) – and another one is due to arrive in April 2021! As a husband and a father, Jimmy now understands the choices his dad made to provide for the family when he was a kid, as he now has to make those same hard choices.
Hauling refrigerated LTL freight for D & G throughout the Midwest for most of his trucking career, he did recently venture off to try another company, but four short months later he realized the grass was not any greener and then went back to D & G, where he still is today. At the moment, Jimmy is happy to be a one-truck operation, but in the future, he would like to build up to a small fleet of maybe five trucks.
Very appreciative of the help his dad has given him over the years, along with his previously mentioned friends who not only pushed him to enter truck shows but also helped him build the truck, Jimmy is thankful to have so many great people around him. I am still not sure if Jimmy Ganski changed his way of thinking or really did hit the big time, but one thing is for sure, whether he “Can’t afford it!” or can, he now has one bad-ass combination to be super proud of. Saving money is nice and can often be the smart thing to do, but sometimes you just gotta let it go and enjoy life to the fullest!