• Street Outlaws is a reality TV show produced by Pilgrim Media Group, airing on Discovery Channel since 201•
• The current cast of the main series consists of Sean ‘Farmtruck’ Whitley, Jeff AZN Bonnet, Wayne D. Varley, ‘Daddy Dave’ Comstock, and the rest of the 405 racing crew.
• They compete for first place on ‘The List’, and occasionally host ‘Cash Days’ with up to $50,000 in prizes.
• Street racing has a long history in the US, with illegal races taking place since the prohibition era.
• Some cities and states have regulated the activity allowing for registered races to take place on their streets.
“Street Outlaws” is a reality TV show produced by Pilgrim Media Group, which has been airing on Discovery Channel since 2013. It’s one of the most popular automotive TV series, centering on the lively street racing scene in Oklahoma City. Since its premiere on 10 June 2013, the series has attracted a large and dedicated audience, and has spawned 13 seasons and six spin-off series, including “Street Outlaws: Memphis”, “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” and “Street Outlaws: Farmtruck & AZN”. It has also inspired several video game titles, such as “Street Outlaws: The List” and “Street Outlaws 2: Winner Takes All”, which have been released for consoles and PCs.
The current cast of the main series consists of Sean ‘Farmtruck’ Whitley, Jeff AZN Bonnet, Wayne D. Varley, ‘Daddy Dave’ Comstock, and the rest of the famous 405 racing crew.
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Each episode shows them competing for first place on ‘The List’, a top-ten ranking system, which requires the racers to ‘call-out’ (race) the person in front of them to move up on The List. The series also shows racers preparing for the call-outs, and often features other racers from Oklahoma City. Every now and then, the 405 crew host so-called ‘Cash Days’, a bracket-style racing competition, featuring the best racers from Oklahoma City competing for a cash prize of up to $50,000.
Origins of the show
While the 405 crew was formed back in ‘90s, they only started hosting local competitions in 2006. Around that time, Justin Shearer – aka Big Chief – became the de facto leader of the group; he would set up all the races, and make sure that nobody was arrested during supposed illegal activities.
He also created a forum website dedicated to street racing, called Midwest Street Cars, part of which was hidden for most users – if Big Chief granted somebody access, that implied that they’re invited to the races. Many of the current 405 racers still use their forum usernames as their racing nicknames.
In 2012, Big Chief was contacted by a user whom he had granted access to the secret part of the website, saying that he wanted to film a TV show about street racing in Oklahoma. While most of the members of 405 crew were initially suspicious of his intentions, worrying that the mysterious person might be an undercover law enforcement officer, they eventually agreed to film a pilot episode. The first race filmed was a grudge match between Sean ‘Farmtruck’ Whitley and Tyler ‘Flip’ Priddy, however, the footage wasn’t included in the premiere episode, and was instead aired as a part of the season 11 premiere.
Sean ‘Farmtruck’ Whitley – Bio
One of the most prominent members of the cast is certainly Sean Whitley, known under the nickname ‘Farmtruck’. He has been a vital part of the show since its inception, and has been racing in the Oklahoma City scene for a long time. Unlike many other street racers, Farmtruck doesn’t drive a fancy sports car, but has instead opted for humble, yet powerful trucks, which he optimizes for racing himself. He started out with his old Chevy Long Bed Truck from 1970, which earned him his nickname, but has since upgraded to a Chevy Motor.
Farmtruck was born on 29 March 1966, in Oklahoma City. He got his start in the automotive world at a very early age, driving his father’s truck when he was only 12 years old. In his youth, he started learning car customization, and eventually opened his own car repair shop.
Aside from starring in the show, Farmtruck and his “Street Outlaws” co-star and sidekick Jeff ‘AZN’ Boonet, are today running an automotive studio called Farmtruck and AZN Shop. In addition, he’s also running a street racer merchandise store, which sells everything from apparel to posters.
Farmtruck and AZN have a joint YouTube channel which numbers more than 250,000 subscribers, and in January 2022, their own “Street Outlaws” spin-off series premiered on Discovery Channel.
Despite his popularity, Farmtruck is quite secretive when it comes to talking about his private life, which has led to certain rumors about him surfacing on the internet. As Farmtruck and AZN appear to be so close that they’re basically ‘joined at the hip’, some fans of “Street Outlaws” have suspected that the two are actually a gay couple, however, this rumor has been disproven by Farmtruck, who has revealed that he has a wife and kids, although he hasn’t provided any details about them.
Did Farmtruck have a stroke?
A few years back, fans of the show noticed that Farmtruck appeared to be weaker on one side of his face, which prompted speculations about him possibly having suffered a stroke, while some fans thought that he might had been injured in a car accident. In 2016, one Reddit user posted a question about it on the official “Street Outlaws” sub-reddit, and AZN chimed in, revealing that Farmtruck actually had Bell’s Palsy, which caused the issue.
According to Mayo Clinic, Bell’s Palsy is a sudden weakness in facial muscles, which makes one side of the face appear to droop. Some other symptoms include drooling, headaches, loss of taste, and increased sensitivity to sound. The cause of the illness is as yet unknown and it can appear at any age, but luckily for patients, it’s only temporary and the symptoms usually resolve after several weeks, although in rare cases facial paralysis may become a life-long issue.
Farmtruck has successfully recovered from Bell’s Palsy, and has continued racing and working as usual.
As of early 2022, his net worth has been estimated at more than $2 million, most of which comes from his appearances in “Street Outlaws” plus the aforementioned business.
Who crashed on “Street Outlaws”?
Sadly, Farmtruck is not the only cast member who has had health issues. Unsurprisingly, the adrenaline-filled street racing often leads to vehicle accidents, most of which leave the racers with injuries of various severity. Given that the cars which the racers drive in the show are usually modified to some extent, they have to account for a lot more compared to regular drivers, from choosing the right tires, taking into account wind resistance and weight distribution and various other factors, so things may often go awry.
In January 2022, Jonathan Day – aka JJ Da Boss, from “Street Outlaws, Memphis” – and his wife Tricia Day were injured in a serious car accident which took place during the filming of an episode in La Villa, Texas. The two apparently participated in a drag race driving their respective Chery Novas, when they ended up crashing into each other as they rocketed down the dragstrip. Reportedly, JJ only suffered minor injuries, while his wife had to undergo surgery on both her hips. She is now recovering at home, and most likely won’t be racing for the rest of the season.
In June 2021, Brandon James, the star of “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings”, crashed his Solar Needs Racing car during a street race against Lizzy Musi. His car was totaled, but luckily Brandon was able to walk away with only a few bruises. However, he ended up being disqualified from America’s List, and was replaced by another driver.
Less than a month later, Brandon’s co-star, ‘Daddy Dave’ Comstock nearly destroyed his car in a high-speed crash at the South Motorsports Park in Oklahoma City. The crash happened during a race-your-way-in program, when Dave lost control of his vehicle which hit a concrete barrier at full speed; he also walked away without any grave injuries.
In September 2020, James ‘Doc’ Love crashed his Monte Carlo while filming for the main series. ‘Me and the Street Beast were in an unfortunate big end accident while filming a very important race in Nebraska for the OG show (…) Car barrel rolled 5-6 times and even knocked three 8- to 10-inch round Cedar trees clean off at the ground’, he wrote in a Facebook post, explaining the unfortunate situation. He also revealed that he didn’t remember the crash, but was mostly fine, while voicing his disappointment with the fact that he had to rebuild his car.
The “Street Outlaws: New Orleans” star, Shannon Poole was also involved in a serious accident earlier in the same year.
Poole was taking a lead at the Gulfport Dragway’s Fat Tuesday Mardi Grass Blowout, before his car lifted off the ground and crashed directly into asphalt. A few moments later, the car’s engine burst into flames, and Shannon was immediately evacuated from the scene. According to reports from the site, he was fully conscious following the accident and didn’t suffer any major injuries. The crash prompted an online discussion, with many other Corvette owners confirming that they’ve also had their car lift off the ground while racing. ‘A friend of mine had a 64 Vette years ago. Got rid of it because he said the front got light at about 110mph. Guess he was right!’, one Facebook user wrote.
In November 2015, “Street Outlaws” stars Big Chief and Chucky, crashed into each other during filming, leaving both of their cars totaled, while Big Chief suffered serious injuries, with multiple pulmonary contusions, a broken collarbone and broken L2 and L3 in his back, but has since made a full recovery.
Is “Street Outlaws” fake?
Given the dangerous and often downright illegal nature of street racing, a lot of viewers have been questioning how a show such as “Street Outlaws” is even possible. Well, as it turns out, nearly nothing that happens in the show is outside the law. Before any race takes place, the crew would ask for a permit from the local officials, and only proceed with racing if the permit is granted. During a race, the roads used are closed, and in addition, to keep things even safer, police officers sometimes drop by to check up on the racers.
Therefore, while “Street Outlaws” isn’t necessarily ‘fake’, it still doesn’t fully capture the street racing scene. A lot of drag races, in which even some of the show’s stars participate, are not legal, but can’t be televised for obvious reasons. Another difference is that the cars that the stars of the show drive, especially in the more recent seasons, are much better equipped than those used by other racers. As the show became more and more popular, the cast were given bigger paychecks, which allowed them to acquire professional type race cars.
In addition, “Street Outlaws” is partially scripted, with certain rivalries are entirely manufactured, which ruins the realism of the show to some extent. This is a regular occurrence with nearly all reality TV series, but unlike some other shows which have the cast compete in some way, “Street Outlaws” producers never meddle with the actual competition outcome.
History of illegal racing
Street car racing has a long history in the US, dating back to the prohibition era. During that time, alcohol smugglers would modify their cars to achieve better power and handling from their engines, which led to the inception of stock car racing and drag racing. The subculture continued after prohibition ended, and was additionally popularized in the 1950s, by movies such as “A Street Car Named Desire” and “Rebel Without a Cause”. Street racing scene was also featured in the 1978 musical movie “Grease”.
Street racing itself is an older phenomenon, as horce racing would occur on city streets long before cars were popularised. Even in the old days, such types of races were considered a public hazard, and were outlawed.
As the street racing culture became more prominent, some cities gained a reputation as racing hot spots. At these places, races are usually well co-ordinated and planned weeks or even months in advance. Racing hot spots are often associated with lots of underworld activity, especially illegal gambling. The biggest hot spots in the US right now are Dallas, Houston and Southern California, while the most notable hot spots in the rest of the world are Hong Kong and Tokyo, which have both gained notoriety for the extreme nature of races which take place there.
While street racing is still associated with illegal activity, some countries and US states have taken steps to allow registered races to take place on their streets. This allows for more safety for the racers and limits the damage to public property, without diminishing the excitement generated, and appreciated by spectators.