Being arguably one of the most dangerous reality TV series ever to be filmed, “Street Outlaws” has had its fair share of accidents, controversy and overall bad PR. Discovery Channel’s team indeed faced many issues trying to save face on numerous occasions, but not every mishap can be blamed on the lack of safety precautions and overall compliance with the rules of drag racing, as established by the local governments.
Regardless of how safe the show may become in the future, fact is that a lot of the racers featured in “Street Outlaws” and its spin-offs have either been directly involved in illegal racing, or know someone who is. Evading the law on a daily basis cultivates an antisocial mindset that sets the stage for all kinds of criminal behavior, often increasing in severity the longer it continues.
It’s no surprise, then, that some of those featured in the show have had their cars at least tampered with or even stolen, and those disadvantageous modifications can result in the loss of life at the breakneck speeds that the cars reach in every episode.
Whether some of the crashes happened because of foul play, or simply bad handling coupled with unforeseen mechanical errors, the audience will sometimes never know. The only thing that can be said for sure is that the very title of “Street Outlaws” radiates a menacing aura in the general media, mostly thanks to many of the accidents that have already happened.
The Harry Allen Generating Station fatal incident
Probably one of the most gut-wrenching events throughout the entire series was the recent death of racer Ryan Fellows, who died in a car crash during a duel on 8 August 2022. Ryan was just about to cross the finish line in the eighth out of the nine races that night, driving his race optimized gold Nissan 240Z.
Everything initially went according to plan, but at one point the car slid from its track and began flipping over with Ryan inside. It eventually came to a halt, and everyone thought Fellows would be mostly unharmed, if a little beat up, thanks to the highly durable and ultimately safe driver cage.
As the onlookers started running to the place of the accident, the car suddenly burst into flames, burning Ryan alive inside it before help could arrive. The door was apparently jammed, and it seems that the windows couldn’t be lowered quickly enough either. Ryan ultimately didn’t have enough time to abandon the vehicle before the fire devoured him, dying on the spot.
The incident caused massive outrage on social media, as Ryan was a well-liked cast member and also a family man. He had two children with his wife Liz – son Josiah, who was 18 at the time, and daughter Olivia, who was 10. All three were obviously devastated by the news, which made fans even angrier at Pilgrim Media Group, who are the show’s producers, for allowing unsafe races to occur.
According to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), in 2015 “Street Outlaws” participants were going to have their racing licenses revoked for continuing to be in the show and duke it out on tracks that weren’t in compliance with the basic security measures that are legally required to be put in place prior to any such competition.
This issue was brought up by the audience after Ryan Fellows’ unfortunate loss, blaming the producers for not taking care of their cast, and asking Discovery Channel why they keep airing the show.
A GoFundMe campaign was created by Ryan’s colleague Brad Sparks, to raise funds for his lamenting family, which amassed close to $25,000 by the start of December 2022, with Ryan’s wife Elizabeth Fellows set as the sole beneficiary.
It is still unknown what actually caused the car to be set ablaze so quickly, and the answer to that is expected to come from Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose representative said ‘No details concerning the investigation can be released until the case has been formally closed, pursuant to confidentiality provisions in state law. Fatality investigations can take up to six months, so this information is unlikely to be available until early 2023.’
Doc’s Nebraska crash
Although not fatal, the Nebraska crash is also one of the events from “Street Outlaws” that also really shook the public when it happened. James Love, known to everyone as ‘Doc’, suddenly lost control of his car while racing Justin ‘Big Chief Shearer, at which point it started swerving and ultimately launched into a death roll.
The car continued spinning violently as its parts were coming off by the brute force of the ground and concrete scraping the metal frame. To anyone not wary of the extremely sturdy driver’s cage that most of these cars possess, it looked like Doc wasn’t going to make it, at least not without serious injury.
As soon as the car stopped rolling, the cast members and their families raced towards it to check if their colleague is still breathing, yelling ‘Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no!’ Someone then said ‘He’s out,’ which was followed by a ‘He’s not okay.’
Even though the driver cage kept Doc from breaking any bones or actually losing his life, the tumble was so severe that he was found barely conscious in the wreckage. The firefighters quickly got the door open, while the medical emergency responders attempted to talk to the driver, and assess the extent of the damage done to his body.
Doc eventually replied back, saying that ‘Nothing hurts.’ Then when asked whether he’s aware of who he’s racing, to which Doc just said ‘Nope,’ meaning that he had suffered at least a mild concussion, as without damage to the head there would be no temporary amnesia.
He was able to answer another question though. As soon as he was asked what kind of car he has, Doc instantly replied with ‘1970 Monte Carlo,’ which was correct. His helmet was eventually removed with great care so as not to exacerbate any potential trauma received to the neck and face, after which he was hospitalized.
What a long hard emotional day. Finished stripping the salvageable parts off the Beast and put her on the back fence. One day old friend, one day!!! pic.twitter.com/gF7oJj1ODI
— James Love (@StOutlawsDoc) March 12, 2021
The Jeff Lutz crash
During the filming of the 16th episode of season six of “Street Outlaws,” Jeff Lutz, another legendary member of the cast, ended up very unluckily on the unforgiving and highly unsafe track. He was in the definite lead and about to take home the win when the yellow car began swerving out of nowhere.
The driver was unable to contain the vehicle on all of its four wheels, at which point it swerved to the side of the track and produced sparks. The car’s weight was fully transferred onto the tiny curb, after which the rig went way over it and into the air.
The machine then began spinning uncontrollably, stripping itself of many surface-level parts as it crashed into the ground several times, causing the whole nearby cast to go into shock and begin yelling, running toward the now defunct yellow car.
Jeff slowly got himself out of the wreckage, and began crawling on the ground, at which point a colleague was already there to help him up, the whole crowd still running his way, along with emergency responders arriving. Jeff said he was hurting ‘all over’ and that he ‘can’t breathe.’
In spite of the generally safe-to-tumble-in driver cage, Lutz was having difficulty talking as well, meaning that the wheel of the car must’ve slammed into his chest a few times, causing significant internal injuries, with which his behavior was consistent.
For some reason, the emergency medical responders took way too long to arrive, causing a few of the cast members to say things such as ‘Can yall hurry up,’ and ‘Where’s the f***ing ambulance?’
Jeff’s colleagues moved aside as the medical team came to take Doc away on a stretcher. When someone realized it was really that serious, they said ‘Oh, they got the stretcher, what the f***?’ Big Chief was interviewed as well, saying ‘No matter how many times you go through this, it never prepares you for it. The last thing any of us wanna see is any other boys laying on the ground, or being taken out on a stretcher by the EMS.’
Jeff Lutz is home from the hospital after his horrific crash this past weekend. Lutz went live to explain what happened. Click here to watch his live video: https://fb.watch/5qugidPnVu/
The Lizzy Musi crash
The only racing show that is evidently way more dangerous than “Street Outlaws” is its “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” spin-off TV series, in which literally nothing was done to actually prepare the track for racing, hence the name. Lizzy Musi was one of the drivers brave enough to participate in this show as well, and which didn’t turn out great for her.
Much like Jeff, after gaining a very evident upper hand against her rival in the nerve-wracking race, Lizzy’s car eventually began swerving and caused her to have to turn the wheel to the other side so as to balance it out. This only worked against her though, as the car hammered the concrete on the side of the track with its front left light.
The severity of this impact caused the front bumper to be completely lowered to the ground, creating sparks as the car slid with serious scraping noises to the barrier on the opposite side, with the car racing against Lizzy being right behind, and almost hitting her. She immediately deployed both parachutes, but it took time for them to work.
The vehicle also rammed its other side amid the uncontrollable swerving, after which it finally stopped. However, no one knew whether Musi was badly hurt or not, though the worst could easily have been assumed.
To the question ‘Are you okay,’ Lizzy simply said ‘No,’ and that her head hurt a lot. The responders slowly extracted her from the beat up vehicle. Her furious father approached the security guards and emergency responders yelling ‘That’s my daughter!’ He was told to back off, however, so that the rescue process could go smoothly.
Inside of the car, Lizzy seemed only mildly concussed, as she was able to consciously and coherently answer a number of questions relating to her current state of health. She just grabbed her head and said ‘It hurts right here ‘cause it slammed back and forth.’ It was evident that Musi was suffering from whiplash at the time, but in fact sustained no serious injuries.
David Jones’ stolen car
Also known as ‘The Bird,’ racer David Jones had his property stolen in the middle of the night right off the parking lot, which included his race-ready 1967 Camaro, the 2015 Maxey trailer with an air ride, as well as his 2002 Ford F-250. The crime took place between approximately 0030 and 0500 of 15 May 2016.
An investigation was immediately initiated, with the popular racer offering $13,000 for any information that would actually lead to the culprit, though this never happened. Slightly longer than two weeks later, David had no choice but to get a completely new car to race in.
In a surprising turn of events, he was given an IROC Camaro by the Birdman team, consisting of James Finney and Gary Weatherly. Even though it didn’t suit them that a fellow competitor was ready to race again, they didn’t have much of a use for that vehicle in particular, as they’d obtained a new one – the Transam Camaro 2.0.
Even though Jones didn’t get the best car out there, he was still able to attend and participate in the races. The vehicle itself wasn’t really unusable, but simply underperforming when compared to some of the most modern rigs of the lineup.