Juan Ibarra has been a fan-favorite on Gold Rush, a Discovery Channel show that follows miners in the high-stakes pursuit of gold in the hopes of striking it rich, since 2015. Now, Ibarra and fellow Gold Rush alum Freddy Dodge are shooting Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue as they travel to struggling mines to help owners who are about to lose it all.
Ibarra, who began by running his family plumbing business, Ibarra Industries, in his hometown of Reno, Nevada, expanded into television when a family member nominated him to Gold Rush on his behalf. For Ibarra, the work he and Dodge are doing with the new show means something special to him. Instead of mining for themselves, he says, they’re attempting to help the average guy out there trying to make a living. “In some cases, it’s a matter of whether or not they’ll be able to have a roof over their head during the winter,” he says. “To be able to help with that – there’s just no words to describe it.”
Ibarra notes one of the biggest differences between Gold Rush and Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue is that now, he and Dodge are the only ones there to do everything; all the work and all the repairs. The locations are extreme and can put a truck through its paces with tight spots, steep grades and muddy conditions.
When it came time for him to purchase a new truck, Ibarra knew he wanted a purpose-built Mack®. His previous truck was a highway truck he’d modified to serve as a service truck, and this time he wanted something built to suit his specific needs. Ibarra knew a custom Mack Granite® was up to the job. He’d considered the Mack name as synonymous with heavy-duty trucks since he was a kid and remembered seeing a video about custom-built Mack trucks the government used in the DEW Line missile warning defense project in the Arctic. “When you think about heavy-duty trucks and see heavy-duty applications, nine out of 10 times they’re Mack trucks,” Ibarra says.
Ibarra wanted to spec the Mack with heavier axles than his previous truck. While he needed the truck to be able to perform well on the highway, he really needed it to perform off road as well. He was also spec’ing it differently than he would as if it were an addition to his fleet because this truck was going to be his personal truck that he drove.
He reached out to Chuck Wissinger, Mack’s director of field sales operations, and told him he needed 505 horsepower on a single-axle truck. “Chuck said to me, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what we’ll build.’ And they did,” Ibarra says, noting that Mack is a true custom truck builder. His custom truck, named Big Mack by his son, is a single-axle Mack Granite with an 18,000-pound steer axle, Mack MP®8 engine with 505 horsepower and 1,850-lb. ft. of torque. The 14-speed mDRIVE™ HD transmission paired with an off-road rated air suspension and Mack rear axle ensures his truck is equally happy cruising the interstates out West or crawling down mountain trails to a jobsite. Referring to his all-Mack drivetrain, Ibarra jokes, “A gold miner needs to have a gold Bulldog on his truck!”
“It’s an animal,” Ibarra says, “but even with that performance it rides great, and it still gets really great gas mileage compared to my old truck. It gets at least three miles per gallon more. It’s a huge savings.”
Ibarra says he also is extremely pleased with Mack mDRIVE, which has outperformed his expectations. “I have Economy, Performance, and Performance Plus modes on my truck,” he says. “In Performance, it holds the gear a little longer. In Performance Plus, it holds the gear a little longer, and then actually goes through every individual gear. When we were doing an episode outside Boise in Silver City, there were some really steep grades, and I was able to hold the gears up and down the grades. If I order another truck, it will have mDRIVE as well.”