Supposedly a fly-on-the-wall series about illegal street racing in the US, Street Outlaws was actually a much more sanitized version of the kind of high-octane street races seen on the Fast and Furious movies.
While the show, which was first broadcast on the Discovery Channel in 2013, features real street racers and their impressive modified vehicles, it is much more about the cars and street racing culture, with the “races” themselves taking place under strictly controlled conditions, to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators.
That didn’t stop the show from creating controversy when it first aired, and throughout the ten seasons that have been screened as of 2018. And having the series fronted by real street racers meant that the stars of the show often had a bit of a chequered past themselves!
17 Derek Travis Was Fired For Being On The Show
One of the star drivers on Street Outlaws, Derek Travis, revealed in 2015 that being on the show had once cost him his job. For some strange reason, a previous employer wasn’t happy that he was appearing on a TV show that promoted illegal street racing and terminated his contract.
16 Midwest Street Cars Was The Target Of A Shooting
The Street Outlaws crew do most of the work on their racing vehicles at Midwest Street Cars in Oklahoma City, but even the show’s resident garage has been involved in some controversies. In 2015, an unknown gunman fired several bullets at the shop after it had closed for the night.
15 Big Chief Wrecked His Car In An On-Screen Race
Even the supposedly safe street races which were featured on Street Outlaws couldn’t eliminate all possible risks – as driver Justin “Big Chief” Shearer found out when he was involved in a serious crash with fellow street racer Brian “Chucky” Davis in 2015 which left his 1972 Pontiac LeMans completely totaled.
14 And Suffered Severe Injuries As A Result
It wasn’t just Big Chief’s car which ended up suffering after the horror crash. The driver himself sustained some pretty serious injuries, from which he eventually recovered, but it was a timely reminder of the less glamorous side of street racing which was eventually included in a later episode of Street Outlaws.
13 Daddy Dave Once Flipped Six Times While Racing
Big Chief is far from the only Street Outlaws racer to get into an accident – although he was the only one who crashed while the Discovery Channel cameras were rolling. Daddy Dave managed to flip his Chevy Nova six times while taking part in a legal drag race in Amarillo.
12 The Silver Unit Was Totaled In A 2016 Race
The Silver Unit was a highly modified 1986 Chevy Camaro owned by Derek Travis that became something of an unofficial mascot for the Street Outlaws team. Travis treasured this car, so it was a surprise when he took it racing – and a tragedy when it ended up being seriously damaged in a crash!
11 Ronnie Pollard Was Arrested For Stealing Racing Engines
Ronnie Pollard was not one of the regular Street Outlaws drivers, but he did appear on a few shows in the early days – until he was arrested by the cops for his part in the theft of two high-end racing engines, valued at a quarter of a million dollars each.
10 NHRA Drivers Warned About Taking Part In The Show
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was actually set up to prevent illegal street races so it is hardly surprising that they objected to a show like Street Outlaws which glamourized aspects of street racing. The NHRA warned that any of their drivers which took part in the show would be banned from official races.
9 Drivers Often Race Illegally Before The Shoot
While the races which featured on the show always happened under strictly controlled conditions, it seems that a lot of the drivers that appeared on Street Outlaws still preferred to do things their own way. Several racers who appeared on the series admitted that illegal races would still take place at the chosen locations the day before the official shoot.
8 But The Races In The Show Were Sanctioned By Local Authorities
However, the races which were filed for the TV show were always conducted with the approval of the local authorities, with local police even closing roads to allow the cameras to capture the exciting action. Not quite the rebellious street racing the fans thought they were tuning in to watch!
7 The Show's Reputation Meant They Had No Sponsors For A Long Time
There are few shows on TV which don’t have a sponsor these days, but for many years Street Outlaws struggled to attract support from any external businesses because of their connection with the dangerous world of illegal street racing. Eventually, the show’s success meant that sponsors, such as the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story couldn’t stay away forever.
6 Joe Woods Thought The TV Show Was A Sting By The Cops
Unsurprisingly, street racers are wary of the authorities – and that apparently includes TV producers. When the Discovery Channel fist approached street racer Joe Woods about the possibility of making Street Outlaws, his first thought was that it was an elaborate sting by the police to catch illegal racers!
5 The Reaper Had His 1955 Chevy Bel Air Stolen
Street Outlaws has made many of the show’s drivers famous, which also has its disadvantages as their magnificently modified vehicles soon became targets for thieves. James “The Reaper” Goad had his vintage 1955 Chevy Bel Air stolen in 2016, though the car, which was worth $175,000, was later recovered by the police.
4 Dave "Bird" Jones; 1967 Chevy Camaro Was Also Targeted By Thieves
It seems that Street Outlaws stars with vintage Chevys are a big attraction for car thieves; Dave “Bird” Jones also had his 1967 Chevy Camaro stolen in 2016. The customized vehicle had featured on a number of Street Outlaws episodes, so it seemed the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for when they targeted Jones.
3 JJ Da Boss Was In An Accident - When He Fell Asleep At The Wheel
Several of the drivers on Street Outlaws have sustained injuries thanks to their illegal – or even legal – street racing antics. However, JJ Da Boss was injured in a serious accident in 2017 which wasn’t caused by street racing or even speeding, but by him falling asleep at the wheel of his GMC Sierra pickup.
2 Jerry Bird Was Caught Street Racing By The Cops
Injuries aren’t the only occupational hazard of being a street racer. A number of the drivers on Street Outlaws have been stopped by the police for racing, including Jerry Bird, who was caught by a police officer waiting at the finish line of an illegal street race in Texas, which resulted in his vehicle being impounded.
1 The NHRA Has Even Tried To Get Street Outlaws Canceled
The NHRA haven’t just threatened to revoke the racing licenses of any racer who takes part in Street Outlaws but have also called for the show to be canceled altogether, arguing that it could encourage young drivers into trying street racing for themselves in situations which are not regulated or safe.
Sources: Street Outlaws, News Max, The Capital Sports Report, Dragzine