What is “Street Outlaws”?
“Street Outlaws” is a Discovery Channel reality series that premiered in June 2013, and currently boasts 13 seasons. Produced by Pilgrim Studios, the show follows underground street racers who love to pull pranks, talk smack, and battle it out in potentially life-threatening situations. The original series takes place in Oklahoma, but there are now many spin-offs.
The Outlaws are no strangers to run-ins with criminals and authorities alike. Traditional drag racers have accused the crew members of partaking in illegal street races, but normally the on-screen races are organized safely and securely, but the behind-the-scenes races that take place before or after filming are another story altogether.
Anyone involved in street racing knows what’s at risk. Crew members such as Big Chief and Dave Cornstock have been involved in unpleasant accidents – while street racing in unsafe conditions, Dave’s car flipped over six times and hit the wall, and he was immediately transferred to the nearest hospital. Luckily, Dave survived the accident, but Big Chief wasn’t so fortunate. While filming a race against Brian Davis, his car landed in a ditch, and he suffered injuries to his spinal cord as well as a fractured collarbone.
Some of the Outlaws, including James Goad and David Jones, have had their cars stolen. James immediately reported the theft of his 1955 Chevrolet to the Oklahoma City police, and thankfully, his vehicle – which is valued at $175,000 – was found just two days later. It remains unclear if David’s $100,000 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was returned to him, although the incident was caught on surveillance camera.
“Street Outlaws” has a somewhat seedy reputation due to the antics of some crew members. For example, Rhett Jones has been arrested several times on drug trafficking charges, and in a particularly memorable incident, he was caught selling crystal meth out of his shop. His colleague, Pass Christian, was also arrested on the same charges, after stashing half a pound of drugs.
In 2015, Shawn Ellington became the talk of the town when an unidentified gunman shot at his store 11 times. Nobody was in the shop that day, but Shawn’s alleged involvement in criminal activities plagued him for months. The shooter was riding a motorcycle and drove towards Shawn’s residence, which is why viewers think that the TV star knew the criminal personally.
— Shawn Ellington (@murdernova) December 20, 2020
Christopher Goodman, Jerry Clyde Stephenson Jr. and Ronnie Pollard were all arrested for stealing two engines valued at approximately $500,000. Ronnie, who made occasional appearances on the show, was recruited by the mastermind of the operation, Jerry Clyde – a criminal with five felonies on his record. The sordid incident didn’t impact the show as negatively as it could have done, given that Ronnie wasn’t a main cast member, but it still called into question the Outlaws’ integrity.
The Untold Truth
The untold truth about “Street Outlaws” is even more shocking than most viewers would imagine. For example, in 2015 the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) threatened drivers that they would take away their licenses if they were to participate in the show. Despite all the on-screen antics being perfectly legal, the NHRA turned their noses up at the reality series’ less-than-perfect reputation. In fact, Derek Travis was fired from his job for appearing in “Street Outlaws”, although he soon found another one.
The show’s producers have also been slammed for glamorizing street racing, despite some of its less glamorous aspects being shown. However, the team behind “Street Outlaws” is in a clear catch-22 situation, because if they were to reveal that most of the show is totally scripted, they’d lose most of their viewership. That’s right – even the nerve-wracking street racing scenes are staged, although not the actual races.
Safety concerns are a big issue, as in the New Orleans edition of “Street Outlaws”, many of the drivers had no experience. Mixing hot-headed, competitive, and inexperienced drivers is certainly a recipe for disaster, but on the positive side, the show has helped many people make a name for themselves in the street racing industry.
The deaths of Tyler Piddle and Butch DeMoss were another cause for concern. Tyler, who appeared in the first season, died before it aired, so never got to see himself on TV. He was found dead at home at the devastatingly young age of 31, and his demise led to rumors of substance abuse or suicide. No official cause of death was ever given.
As for Butch, he was a beloved figure on the drag racing scene, who passed away aged 43 years old after being found unresponsive in his home. The racing community was left heartbroken by his death, but more questions were raised when his high school friend shared that he’d died of a heart attack. It’s unknown what exactly caused the heart attack, although some netizens claimed that high-speed racing could’ve negatively impacted his health.
Izzy Valenzuela was one of the show’s most promising talents until he was involved in a crash that killed two innocent bystanders. In one stroke, Izzy ruined his career, and things only went downhill when he denied being at the scene. When police discovered that Izzy had lied, they arrested him on the spot, and since then, there’s been no news about what the former fan favorite is up to these days.
Cast Members: JJ Da Boss
Born and raised in Memphis, JJ Da Boss – real name Jonathan Day – is one of the most familiar faces of the Outlaws franchise. Thanks to his outgoing personality, family values, and stunning car collection, the father of 11 – yes, you read that right – is considered by many to be the star of the show, and the reason many viewers tune in week after week.
Before becoming a street racer, JJ worked as a roofer, and saved his money up to fix old cars. In his younger years, he was something of a wildcard, and was caught by police several times for organizing and participating in illegal underground racing events, as well as smuggling car parts. After an eight-year stint in federal prison, JJ resolved to do things the right way and turned to fixing and selling vehicles legally to earn a living.
JJ met his current wife, Tricia “Midget” Day, in 2008. At the time, he already had seven children and wasn’t exactly a catch. However, Tricia saw the potential in the troubled TV personality and helped him fix his life: as JJ gushingly said, “I love Trish. I feel like she saved me and my life… She got me on the right path.” The happy couple share a lot of interests, as she also earns a living buying and selling cars.
With that said, JJ is far from perfect and has even been accused of trying to kill fellow racecar drivers. In 2018, Chad Larkin filed a federal complaint stating that the Memphis native had kicked him in the head, lunged at him, and verbally abused him by saying: “F**k you, fat boy, get your own show!”. This all occurred during the filming of the show.
The reason behind the potentially deadly brawl? JJ contacted Chad with the intention of participating in a $1,000 street race, filming it, and including it in the show. In the lawsuit, Chad claims that he was “asked to bring a friend dressed in prison attire” and then “fed lines” to create tension between him and JJ.
Chad wasn’t allowed to mention that the race was for “Street Outlaws”, and was only informed of the location 30 minutes before it took place, which would make anyone suspicious. The racer and his wife Genny also blamed the crew of the reality show, saying: “While the assault was ongoing, the producers of the show made no effort to stop it. Rather, the camera crew and producers continued filming… one of the producers instructed a cameraman to get closer and get a better shot.” The state of JJ and Chad’s relationship, if there is one, remains unclear as of 2022.
On a more positive note, JJ is a doting father, and also has 5 grandchildren. His kids are pretty low-key, and only one, Josh, has followed in his dad’s footsteps to become a street racer. For now, Josh is married and shares two daughters named Kamden and Novaleigh with his wife Chelsea. It’s unknown how many women JJ had his brood of children with, or if he’s on speaking terms with all his offspring, but at least he and Josh have a good relationship.
Earlier this year, fans were concerned for JJ and Tricia when the famous duo were involved and injured in a car crash during the filming of “Street Outlaws: America’s List”. A Facebook page named Deep South Street racing shared several gruesome images depicting wrecked vehicles, and added: “Keep praying for JJ Da Boss and his wife Trish… Trisha Wayne is in the worst shape so y’all keep praying for the MSO family they need it right now.”
The post was shared thousands of times, and sparked discussions in the street racing community. One commenter claiming to have inside information said: “JJ caught fire, crossed center, hit Tricia and rolled. Tricia was sent into three minivan rental cars that were protecting light towers/camera equipment.” They also shared that the pair were, at the time of posting the comment, in stable condition in the hospital.
Months after the accident, Tricia gave fans an update on her and her husband’s health, and confirmed that they’d recovered despite being immobile for a long time, and needing screws in their legs. Eager to get back on the scene, the couple shared a video of themselves at a racetrack the very next day.
Cast Members: Molly Gulley
Although nowhere near as famous as JJ, Molly caught people’s attention after appearing in the fourth season of “Memphis Street Outlaws”. The Arkansas State University alumni is in her mid-to-late 20s and celebrates her birthday on 31st December, making her a Capricorn.
When not participating in street races, Molly works at the three family businesses: Gulley Bail Bonds as a bail bond agent, KEG Motorsports as a merchandise model, and KEG Towing. Her parents, Kenneth and Cari, are born entrepreneurs who keep the money flowing in with their various business ventures, and it’s believed that their other daughter, Natalie also shares their hardworking streak.
The Memphis native is currently dating Zach King, whom she met while studying at ASU. Not much is known about Zach, although he regularly shares photos of his fishing expeditions on Instagram and other social media platforms. The couple went Instagram public in late 2020, and love to attend sporting events together; it’s unclear if they plan on having children, but for now they share an adorable furry baby named Ellie Mae.
Molly has thousands of Instagram followers herself, and they’re clearly keen on her coming back to “Street Outlaws” after an extended absence. The beautiful blonde hasn’t shared her future plans for the time being, and it appears that she’s been busy enjoying herself at various beaches, and making memories with her friends all summer 2022.
Of course, Molly has some pretty big shoes to fill if she wants to be taken seriously in the racing world. Her father, who has been part of the scene for decades, grew up in a racing household and learned everything he knows from his father. His vehicle, a 2003 Chevy S10 affectionately nicknamed “Bounty Hunter”, is practically famous in its own right.
Kenneth may not be considered as controversial or interesting as JJ, but he’s a loving family man who’s managed to steer clear of scandal since he first appeared on the show. The savvy businessman and his wife Cari make an incredible team, and have been together through thick and thin.
As for Natalie, she also works at Gulley Bail Bonds and has two dogs named Chet and River Dale. Despite not appearing on “Street Outlaws”, fans are familiar with her for being Kenneth’s daughter and Molly’s sister. The bubbly blonde is also an esthetician, and has been in a committed relationship with a pilot named Colby for the past few years.