of the Green Ghost
1980 — The first Valley Ghost was The Gray Ghost
Back in the heyday of Blockbuster Video, power ballads, and big hair, the team at Valley Truck Parts had an inspired idea. In 1980, they began hosting a truck pull, giving semi trucks all over Michigan the opportunity to compete to see who had the most monstrous pulling power.
From ‘80 to ‘85 roughly a hundred semis competed in the truck pull, and the event initially brought some welcome variety to the growing West Michigan area. Eventually, truck pull after truck pull began to get repetitive, and the Valley team decided they wanted to do something unique to break up the format.
To bring new life to their event, they decided to resurrect a ghastly new monster from the grave. They created the Gray Ghost, the original predecessor to the Green Ghost. The Gray Ghost started out as a GMC cab truck, sporting a 671 Detroit engine, providing limited pulling power. The truck was a spectacle and quickly became the center of attention at every event, but after two years the Valley team decided it needed more capacity. In ’84 they put in the current motor—a Detroit Diesel 12V71.
While the Green Ghost became a consistent presence at events, it did not originally have a consistent driver. Anyone on staff who was available would drive. A Valley Truck Parts employee named Louie became the most prominent driver up until the late ’90s when the Gray Ghost’s lifespan began to run its course. The cab had totally rusted out, and it was time to retire. The Gray Ghost lived until ’98, when it breathed its last and settled into the semi truck graveyard.
During those early years, Valley would get The Ghost out of the garage once, maybe twice a year. It was just for show, and events were few and far between.
1998 — The first incarnation of The Green Ghost
In ’98, an employee named Bruce began to show interest in the Ghost. He suggested giving it the attention it deserved and rebuilding the truck.
Later that year, the team brought the remains of the Ghost inside, tore them down, and began to build the second resurrected form—the Green Ghost. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the Green Ghost was built from graveyard parts to fashion its eponymous, imposing figure. The team switched to the HME cab and moved the exhaust to the back, making its figure look more like a traditional semi truck. This was the genesis of The Green Ghost.
Bruce was the driver of the Green Ghost from ‘99 to ‘17. And so the role of driving the latest Ghost has historically fallen to the primary driver on the Valley staff—the same driver who picks up wrecks often competes in truck pulling competitions with the Ghost.
2017 — The rebuild of The Green Ghost
In the winter of 2017, the Valley team decided to tear down the whole truck and revamp it again. This was a major rebuilding effort. When they first switched from the GMC to the HME, they didn’t change a lot of the frame rails or dimensions, just made it fit what was there. When the Ghost was rebuilt in ‘17, however, it was torn down to the nuts and bolts. They started with the frame rails and built a brand new truck.
Valley spent a lot of time honoring the suggestions of Bruce the driver. They went from a single steering box to a double steering box. They moved the rear axle back eleven inches. They moved the front bumper, changed the rear differential setup to make it look more modern, and added the light box in the back of the truck. The new lights’ color could be changed from amber to green, allowing the Ghost to display different mood lighting at its events. The Green Ghost also got brand-new, enormous front tires.
Since this rebuild, the Valley team has continually tested stress points on the truck and continued to optimize for strength, power, and performance.
Since 2017, the Green Ghost has been driven primarily by a dedicated customer service representative at Valley, Bob. He’s the guy you’ll see at the counter when you first walk in Valley’s Grand Rapids storefront. It is also driven by Tom, one of the drivers on the team, and Jess, who is a new trainee driver.
2018 — The Green Ghost becomes widely known
While the Gray Ghost was only driven once a year, the Green Ghost will top 32 events this year. It has become a local legend and people from Michigan and the surrounding states can immediately recognize the ghostly Green Glow and enormous cab.
This massive increase in event attendance did not come out of nowhere. It was due to the passion and commitment of one of the employees and family of the Valley Truck Parts owners, Alex Goodale.
While the truck’s appearances created a significant buzz in the community, Alex noticed that the Ghost wasn’t driven very often and most of the time sat unused. Alex asked his father why, and his father said that it was simply because no one had taken charge yet. Alex volunteered, telling his father, “I want to do more pulls with this truck.” His father immediately answered, “Good! Go ahead and do it!”
The Green Ghost really took off 2016 when Alex began promoting it on social media. Millions of people saw videos of the truck’s unique design and monstrous pulling power, and people began to like, share, and follow.
The mission of the Ghosts
It’s clear that the Green Ghost has been a passion project for Valley Truck Parts. Most semi trucks charge large sums of money for appearances, but Valley makes its wide circuit with the Green Ghost completely for free.
We asked Alex Goodale why he spends so much time volunteering to promote the truck and run events.
Alex told us that of course the Ghost functions as a marketing piece for the Valley family business, but ultimately the reason he does it is for the kids. When a little kid comes up to the giant monster truck with a big smile on his face, ecstatic that the Valley employees and event staff will let him touch the mammoth wheels and climb inside the cab—that’s what all of this is for. Alex and the rest of the team are excited to help that kid, and others like him, make memories that they will look back on fondly for the rest of their lives.
The Green Ghost is for the kids, it is for the families, and it is for the community. Thanks to the extensive history of the Gray Ghost and the Green Ghost, many parents come to events and say with a nostalgic smile, “Wow! I remember this from when I was a kid.”
Ultimately, the legend of the Green Ghost is all about the people who attend the events. It’s about creating an exciting experience to bring people together.
If you want to experience the Green Ghost in real life, come to an event! The Green Ghost attends many semi truck pulls throughout Michigan and the surrounding area. See our events page to keep track of where the Ghost will be next!