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MEET: Team Venom Racing

December 13, 2018

 

“I need a better transmission mount in this truck.”

These are iconic words when I think of Greg Gagnon and PRG Products. My name is Walter Cheney and here is my story...

 

I started racing as a young man. I grew out of the quad industry and moved into trucks back in the 80’s because of peer pressure from my two older brothers.

Competition in the family was a fun thing we enjoyed exploiting. I raced my first truck 25 years ago and it’s been one heck of a ride ever since. I grew up truck pulling and attending the local fair venues and occasional sanctioned event. My older brothers and I ventured into mud and dirt drags and eventually even ice drags as years progressed.

 

As with anything in life there comes a time where racing slows and life smacks you in the face. Racing took a slump for a time as my boys were born and career changes took place, but I never stopped in full! I always had that burning to get back on the dirt!

 

Years passed and racing started to take a front seat in my life again. The boys were older and were attending the races and helping me in the pits. My brothers had moved away and were caught up in life changes so I decided to just push harder and make racing part of my life in a daily manner. This is where the story turns the corner!

 

My brother Alex purchased his first of many Nissan Titans in 2004. Keep in mind we were a Ford oriented family and to have a brother purchase an “IMPORT” truck was, well, just funny! We actually laughed at him. Said things like, “Good luck with that junk."  Well I am here to tell you that truck started a Nissan-oriented racing career I never thought possible!

 

After driving this truck I quickly realized there was something special here. Amazing power and a very easy to work with chassis. Still though it just wasn’t my big block Ford and could never compare. Or could it?

 

That summer of 2005 was one that changed my life. My brother, Fay, and I kept teasing Alex to bring his Nissan to the pulls and hook it up! He was so proud of it and ran his lips about it constantly. He replied, after a few weeks of peer pressure, “You pay my hook and I'll pull." Best $20 we ever spent.

 

As you may have already imagined, Alex not only beat us that day, he won the pull, forever changing our thoughts on Nissan. This began the legacy of our family race team.

 

Over the years we all purchased and traded up several Titans, winning more and more as we progressed in the industry. Then one day, back in 2010, I decided to go all in and push the team as hard as possible. This meant attending as many events as we could and a lot of traveling. I needed help financially and I needed to upgrade the truck that is now nationally recognized as VENOM.

 

I had to drive sometimes up to 8 hours to attend a race. Yes I said drive. I drove to the events and drove home! My brothers did also. This was the only way we could do it. We couldn’t afford to buy a tow vehicle and trailer. So we were known by our drive-to-and-home ethics. It gave us a lot of respect in the industry.

 

 

 

 

As that first season progressed I broke my first part on a Titan. Venom suffered a blown Transmission mount at the last point’s pull of that season during my pull. I felt the transmission hit the floor of the truck but had no choice but to keep the hammer down and try to get every foot of distance I could. Well it worked! We took a 3rd that day but had enough wins overall to win the 2010 points championship! Venom, however, took some damage. Losing the transmission mount caused the driveline to slap up and down eventually blowing the rear pinion and destroying the rear differential. This was not only financially devastating, but it made us hitch a ride home that day. Literally.

 

So here is the introduction of what I call my “safety net”. I reached out this guy I found on the forums that himself was a racer. Greg was his name and making trucks better was his game. I learned he offered an upgraded transmission mount that would do the job. After a few phone calls and texts Greg joined the team as a sponsor of Team Venom Racing. I ordered the transmission mount and to this day that same mount is still in Venom! Zero issues. Keep in mind I have over 400 hooks on this truck pulling over 50,000 pound sleds. It’s incredible!

 

 

 

I eventually installed just about everything PRG had to offer over the years, from full coilover suspension to his amazing engine mounts and even the small stuff, like his control arm and steering rack bushings. I've got his tie rods installed and his leveling and flip kits were also utilized throughout the racing seasons. You see, Venom was not just a pull truck; Venom was looking to go fast!

 

I was getting pressure from the Titan community, that since I only was truck pulling I wasn’t a real race truck. I laughed to myself and thought they had no idea what they just did.

 

Over the next several years I would swap Venom over from pull to drag and back again over and over each season as I drag raced and still pulled each season. This meant huge chassis changes. Days of work each time. But I was determined to go fast and keep pulling! And we did!
 

 

 

Venom set the world record for fastest 4x4 running a 13.5 in the ¼ back in 2012. After a bit of praise from the community I was being pushed again. This time I was told to be considered “fast” I needed to be in the 12s in the ¼ mile. A 13 second truck was no slouch, especially a 4x4, but if they wanted 12s then that was my goal. You see, I don’t think they understood the person I am. I set goals and reach them. Hard work is who I am and nothing will stop my drive to that goal.

 

Let’s jump ahead a few years now. I’d been pushing Venom more and more, still winning truck pull championships every season in several states and still swapping over to my drag racing setup and hitting the strip. I ran my first 12 second run, stunning the racing community. To hit a 12.9 in a 5000 pound plus truck was truly going to set a bar. It did, but now, as I came closer to the current fastest Titans' times I see turbulence in the community. As with any racing you see there are supporters and haters. It’s just how it works. The nature of the beast, if you will.  This only fed my fire to put PRG and my other sponsors on top where they belonged! So my new goal was set. Do you know what happened next? Keep reading! 

 

Knowing what I had to do, I reflected on my pulling career: over two dozen truck pulling championships covering 6 states. I decided to sway more toward drag racing Venom and do less pulling. This would help me focus on fast and not be torn between two opposite ends of the spectrum of racing. This is where FAST becomes a reality.

 

Knowing my PRG equipped chassis was strong enough to do the job, I got together with my sponsors and put together a plan. We not only wanted to go fast we wanted to set more world records! This is exactly what we did.  
 

 

 

We reached 12.5, all motor, no spray and set a new world record! But this was just the start. Working with Adam, at Drivetrain America, and Ryan, at Nitrous Express,  we put together a plan that, with UpRev’s tuning, we could push the limits of this truck. Randy and Omar from UpRev hooked me up with the best tuning in the industry! Rich, from Magnaflow, and Jeff, from Cajun B Pipes, hooked me up with the proper exhaust hooked to Dustin’s JBA Headers. WE wanted 11s!

 

I did this the smart way. I knew going fast meant safety was top priority. So racing brakes from Charlie at R1 Concepts were added and proper shielding of the drive shafts was added. Pat, from Level 10 Transmission, hooked us up with the proper converter to complement our Level 10 transmission for the drags. This helped us get moving out of the hole. Beard seats hooked us up with racing seats and certified 5-point harnesses. Odyssey Battery took care of the racing battery and JS Alternator covered the charging side of this build. JC Custom hooked us up with custom spacers to complement our PRG Sway bar brackets and Mag-Hytec supplied diff covers. Mike at ORW supplied the transmission pan for extra cooling and OWP helped supply us with a functional ram air hood and E fans to keep Venom cool. John at Evans Waterless Coolant jumped on board and Bill at BVC Racing took care of the wrap that is world famous. Tires, supplied by John of Rouse Tire, wrapped on Anthem off road wheels and Huttig Nissan of Plattsburgh kept us going and stood behind us every step of the way. Predrag at Pre-Cool topped of the cooling system with his signature silicone hoses. Kevin at Plattsburgh spring supplied upgraded suspension bolts and North Country Auto glass joined the team. Lots of great supporters like PMAS supplying their MAF sensor and Port Henry Service for fuel. Mike's Auto for Nitrous and Spectro Lubricants for that much needed Lubrication when in a racing industry. Hellwig products for the rear swaybar and air bags have been amazing as well as EGR products to complement our wrap. You see our list of supporters is amazing. Go to www.TeamVenom.Racing to see them all!

 

 

You see, when I am challenged, you get results. Push me and I'll push back 1000 times harder. You told me I wasn’t fast so I went faster! We hit our first 11 second pass and have never looked back! 11.9, setting several new world records, turned into an 11.7 and even more exposure. Magazine cover features and over a dozen articles later, in several publications like Apex automotive magazine and Land of the Pullers has solidified all our hard work. It’s not just me. My best friend and beautiful wife, Amber, along with my three boys and my brothers are the real Team Venom.

 

 

 

Team Venom has claimed world records with both the Titan and a new XD diesel Titan owned by my brother, Alex. We have all won races and events like the Carlisle truck nationals. We are more than just a race team. We are a true American family. We came from nothing and, through hard work and support from other great people, have accomplished iconic things. You see it all started with a transmission mount years ago. This PRG product was key in my life’s legacy!

 

 

 

So thank you to all of my sponsors over the years! Thank you to all my family and friends! You guys are my rock. Finally, thank you to all the haters in this industry. You only pushed me to not only go faster, you made me a better me!

 

Greg, Jen, and Ollie thank you! Thank you for believing in me and my family. I could never tell you how much you were a key part in my career’s success. I’m honored to have represented PRG all these years and look forward to faster times ahead! I am just getting started and PRG will always be a key part of my racing story. My safety net!

 

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