“Street Outlaws” is the popular reality-TV show that has been captivating audiences with its high-stakes race competitions and dramatic moments for nearly a decade, amassing an almost fanatically devoted fan base. The show’s cast, known for their distinct personalities and dynamic interactions, has become a favorite among viewers.
One significant member is Jim Howe Jr. – a highly-regarded racer, entrepreneur, and automotive mechanic, who has made a lasting impression on fans since joining the series. His story is one that combines passion, legacy, endurance and persistence, which has captivated the hearts of many over the years.
The origins of a true street outlaw
Born in the picturesque city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jim Howe Jr. is the offspring of Jim ‘Bad Boy’ Howe, a renowned second-generation drag racer, who embarked on his own racing journey in Michigan in 1981 at the age of eight, taking part in a program specifically designed for young racers, known as Junior Eliminator.
This program was aimed at providing a platform for young enthusiasts to showcase their talents and passion for racing, with a specific focus on motorcycles of less than 250cc. This competition served as an entry point for many young racers, including Howe, who were excited to embark on his racing journey as early as possible.
Junior Eliminator not only provided an opportunity for young racers to develop their skills but also served as a stepping stone for them to progress to more advanced levels of racing. Jim was exposed to the adrenaline and excitement of racing from a very early age, and it wasn’t long before he began to cultivate his own passion for the sport.
Entering the fierce industry
As Howe reached the age of 15, he began to participate in local bracket races in a 1965 Chevelle, a car that his parents still possess to this day. He swiftly established himself as a gifted and competitive racer, winning the High School Nationals at Milan Dragway in 1989 and 1990.
In the former year, well-known car builder Bob Mandel constructed a new IROC Super Comp Camaro for Jim Howe Sr., and his son seized the opportunity to take the wheel of the car. He obtained his NHRA Super Comp license at the age of 16 and began racing the IROC in the Detroit area.
In 1985, Jim’s parents had purchased Central Michigan Dragway, thus providing him with an abundance of opportunities to race anything and everything with wheels. By the age of 12 he was already racing slower street cars with foot brake style when the track was closed on weekdays.
All in all, Howe’s father has played an instrumental role in all of his success, guiding him on the ins and outs of building motors, tuning engines, and working on cars. From refining his reaction times to teaching him shift points, Jim Sr. has been a constant mentor and support throughout his son’s racing career.
After years of careful arduous learning, Jim Howe Jr. had become an accomplished and respected racer, with a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the sport. His burning passion for racing and his dedication to honing his skills have made him a formidable competitor on the track, and a well-respected expert. His success on the street, coupled with his humble and friendly demeanor off the track, has made him a fan favorite among the racing community.
As a young and ambitious track challenger, Jim was always seeking ways to improve his performance and take his competitiveness to the next level. Howe Sr. recognized his potential, and decided to invest in a more advanced S&W rear-engined dragster in 1990. This marked a turning point in Jim Jr.’s career as he began to gain recognition among the big-money bracket racers throughout the country.
He was known for his ability to compete in multiple races in the same weekend, often reaching the final rounds of each class. Jim Jr. showed exceptional skills, winning races all over the US, and pushing himself to reach faster speeds. He aimed to run in the seven-second zone in the 1/4 mile at speeds of over 170 mph, cementing his reputation as a formidable and talented racer.
A racer’s graduation
The next chapter of Jim’s life began with his high school matriculation in 1991, in the city of Belleville, Michigan. As a family, the Howes decided to relocate to Tennessee and embark on a new business opportunity, thereby acquiring a drag strip known as the I-40 Dragway. They remained the proprietors of the track for the next quarter of a century, which served as a persistent motivation and drive for Jr.’s love of racing.
In 1994, the son took a step forward in his career by constructing his own vehicle – a 1994 Danny Nelson Top Dragster. He relied on his father’s vast knowledge and skills in power train and engine program, eventually entering the IHRA Top Dragster ranks along with him, and achieving an outstanding level of success.
Jim was able to secure victory in Bristol’s Spring Nationals in Tennessee, after which he went on to win at the Empire Nationals in Leicester, New York, subsequently also coming in second place in a race in Alabama’s Steele.
His career unfortunately came to a sudden pause, as a tragic event occurred when their family home was burglarized, which resulted in the Howes having to pass up on the season due to being unable to secure funding after a setback of that magnitude.
However, an event soon occurred that would put him back in the saddle, and even change his racing aspirations. Jim attended Jackson, Tennessee’s Small Tire Outlaw Heads-Up race, where he watched his high school friend Keith Szabo contend.
This competition ignited a desire in him to race in similar vehicles, and by 1997 he’d constructed his own Outlaw Street Car – a 1988 Monte Carlo. This machine quickly earned a reputation in the state as a formidable opponent on the street racing scene, one that other contesters were reluctant to face.
Jim remained active in bracket racing and achieved success in these competitions, but his true passion was for Outlaw Heads-Up cars. He worked hard over time to make it possible for him to race in these high-speed, small tire vehicles.
The glorious 2000’s
As a devoted and enthusiastic drag racer, Howe sought out new and adventurous ways to take his career to the next level. In the early 2000s, he established a unique and inventive racing series named Bounty Race.
This competition featured restricted preparation, and no timing devices, creating a thrilling and genuine experience that closely resembled street racing. As a result, it swiftly gained a sizable following among both racers and fans, particularly in the southern US.
While organizing and promoting the series required a substantial amount of time, it also enabled Jim to participate in larger competitions, and concentrate on developing the car which he currently races. Upon looking to return to full-time racing, he recognized the need for a profession that would allow him the freedom to pursue his passion.
Jim ultimately entered the bail bonding industry and found enviable success there as well. This type of work gave him the time he needed to race and allowed the formation of income steady enough to support his true dream.
A new business by the name of Big Jim’s Bail Bonding thus sprang up in 2016, making it possible for Howe’s 1968 alcohol blown Camaro to receive constant quality upgrades over approximately 12 months.
By the latter half of 2017 the vehicle had been reconstructed from the ground up in the shops of TyTech Performance from Tennessee’s Lewisburgh, under the careful guidance of Tyree Smith, who updated the car to sport a Brad Anderson Hemi.
Performance wasn’t guaranteed right out the door however, so Howe proceeded to test the new machine extensively and carefully throughout the remainder of the year. He showed up in the Limited Drag Radial in 2018, and performed enviably, though without acing the competition.
The engine program ended up having to be further updated, which Jim set out to accomplish by the end of the year. With renewed confidence in 2019, he signed up for participation in the entire Drag Radial racing schedule.
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His first victory of the event was claimed in Louisville, Kentucky, after which he wound up winning almost every single Limited Drag Radial race he competed in, losing only one round that year. Unsurprisingly, he confidently claimed the world championship trophy, embedding himself permanently in the annals of drag racing.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of many race events, Jim seized the opportunity to return to his roots, participating in street racing and NoPrep competitions. He assembled a skilled group of track veterans, and together with them emerged victorious at the JJ Da Boss Arm Drop Team race in Crossville, Tennessee, laying the foundation for his television debut in the second season of Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America.”
Following the filming of several episodes, Jim traveled to California to participate in MAV TV’s “Horsepower Wars No Prep Edition.” During this time, he also built a car for his wife to compete in – a project he completed in just 10 days on a budget of $10,000. Dubbed “Miss Demeanor,” the car set a record for the most horsepower seen on the show, generating nearly 300 more than any of the other teams.
As 2021 began, Jim and his new team, Southern Assassins, returned to “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America” for its third season, and also joined the cast of Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” series. Jim’s track record of success and relentless determination suggests that he and his team will continue to make a name for themselves in the world of No Prep racing for years to come.
A completely unpredictable lamentation
Tragically, however, Howe recently faced a difficult situation involving his daughter. This personal tragedy has been a significant blow to the popular reality-TV personality, who is otherwise normally believed to have an unshakable character. Despite his impressive track record, he has had to endure a great deal of emotional difficulty in the wake of his heartache.
His beloved daughter Sienna, who had already overcome cancer and had her whole life ahead of her, suddenly fell ill at a birthday party on 10 January 2022, surrounded by family and friends. Despite the efforts of emergency medical services, she was unable to be revived and was rushed to Vanderbilt hospital in a coma, where she was placed on a ventilator to assist her breathing. The family, devastated and in shock, kept a bedside vigil, praying for a miracle, and hoping for the best.
Last night my little girl Sienna Howe was at a birthday party having a good time. Laughing , eating with family and…
However, as the hours passed and the medical professionals gave their prognosis, it became clear that the outlook was grim. Sienna’s brain had suffered severe swelling, and the chance of recovery was slim. The family was faced with the unimaginable decision of letting go of their daughter, who had already been through so much in her young life.
As the Howes struggled with the news, Jim took to social media to update everyone on the situation, expressing his heartbreak and asking for prayers. Unfortunately, the family’s worst fears were confirmed and their daughter was pronounced deceased. The Howe family was left reeling from the sudden and unexpected loss of their daughter, who had brought so much joy and love to those around her.
The loss has been felt deeply by all those who have come to know and appreciate Jim Jr. through his time on the program, with many offering their condolences and support during the difficult time. While Howe Jr. continues to cope with bereavement, fans can take comfort in knowing that he has their support and understanding, as his emotions gradually recuperate.