Donaldson joins Rumble to the Summit

Colby Donaldson, host of the cable channel Speed TV’s “The New American Thunder” series, will be in town Friday and Saturday for the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rumble to the Summit.

Donaldson, who will be part of the ride Saturday from Clovis to the Sierra Summit Ski area, didn’t bring his Harley. “It is easier for us to borrow one or rent one,” Donaldson says during a telephone interview. “I have to tell you, I wish I had had this opportunity years ago. Getting to ride a lot of different bikes gives me a chance to decide what I like.”

The former “Survivor” contestant, a longtime motorcycle enthusiast, was selected this year as one of the hosts for the TV series, which examines the cruiser motorcycle culture. The cast and crew go to motorcycle events, such as the local “Rumble,” and visit historic locations.

Donaldson, 35, grew up in Texas and worked on cars from an early age. He wanted to ride motorcycles, but his mother wouldn’t let him. He bought his first Harley when he was 26 and then stripped it to the frame.

“That was the only way I could figure out how it works. And the reincarnation was much better,” Donaldson says.

Donaldson’s first bike came about the same time he signed up for “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” He considers himself lucky to have been part of the second edition of the reality show when viewers were enamored with the concept. He lost “Survivor” to Tina Wesson, who remains a friend. He opted for an acting career after the reality show aired, even though he had no aspirations before “Survivor.” It was just a case of opportunity.

In addition to hosting the cable series, Donaldson also is a contributor to the “Rachael Ray Show.” While Donaldson loves hosting the cable series, it is a second love to his passion for cars. He says he has “been turning wrenches most of my life” and isn’t letting a little thing like fame get in the way. This weekend will be the first time Donaldson has made it to the central San Joaquin Valley. Anyone who raises or donates a minimum of $500 gets VIP status to ride as part of Donaldson’s private pack Saturday.

The fundraiser kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at the Clovis Rodeo grounds. There is a $5 charge for nonregistrants.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at