The Future of Transportation Will be Televised: Talking to Heavy D of the “Diesel Brothers”
Education and Careers As one-half of the “Diesel Brothers,” Dave Sparks can’t hide his enthusiasm for the futures of transportation and engineering.
When Dave Sparks — also known as Heavy D, one-half of the Discovery Channel’s “Diesel Brothers” — was nine years old, he saved his money and bought a motorcycle. This started a passion for vehicles and engineering that quickly became a lifelong obsession.
“Most people keep their one high school vehicle and they have that same vehicle all through their four years of high school, but not me,” Sparks says. “I was buying a new truck or new Jeep every three or four months. I was just so excited to try something new.”
Sparks, a Utah native, never lost that love for every aspect of transportation: the vehicles, the engineering, the fabrication and mechanics of it. “I have the ‛I want to try it all’ mentality,” he says. “I want to see everything, I want to drive everything, I want to operate every piece of equipment. And the only way I could do that was to make a business out of it.”
That business started as a small sideline to construction work buying and selling tractors and other used vehicles. “The appeal to us was always in finding the best deal possible,” he says. “We would find a tractor three or four states away, drive all night to get it, get it back to the shop and clean it up. And then we would use it, but at the same time we would have it for sale. That allowed us to basically kind of keep a rolling inventory of different, bizarre, unique vehicles.”
After studying auto mechanics and fabrication in high school, Sparks attended Weber State University in Utah, but left after a year. “I don’t regret the decision,” he says. “I wasn’t cut out for college. I would never turn anybody away from getting an education — in fact I would highly recommend some form of higher education, whether it’s hands-on trade schools or traditional college. But I emphasize, learn what you want to learn. Just do what excites you.”
The future is going to be a culmination of everything we've learned in the past.
When asked what his advice would be for anyone who wants to get into the transportation industry or engineering as a career, Sparks’ enthusiasm is obvious. “You have to set short-term goals and long-term goals,” he advises. “For me, a goal is something that I can see myself enjoying—what do I want to be doing six months from now? What is going to excite me to get out of bed? When I talk to these kids, I say ‘Just go figure out what excites you.’”
Sparks and the “Diesel Brothers” see a bright future for the transportation industry and people like themselves who love to get their hands dirty.
“I think as the future of transportation continues to evolve the biggest mistake we make is to assume this one direction is the future,” Sparks says. “You know, self-driving cars or electric cars or hybrid cars or whatever it is. I don't think that's the case. The future is going to be a culmination of everything we've learned in the past. With our business I think what you’ll probably see is more modern technologies like electric motors or turbine motors being used in ways they’ve never been used before. I love anything with an engine, I love anything with a motor, I love anything you can drive. I don’t care if it’s gas powered, diesel powered, turbine powered or electric powered. You can create insanely cool and capable vehicles with all those different technologies. One goal that I have is to develop vehicles that are more capable for the military and for EMS and firefighting.”
Sparks hasn’t lost his desire to drive everything, either. “You might even see flying machines at some point,” he says. “That’s definitely on my radar.”