“Street Outlaws” has undoubtedly become a phenomenal success since it was launched in 2013 on the Discovery Channel. Viewers got an inside look at the street racing scene in Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Memphis in particular and the rest of America, through the original series and spin-offs. Racers faced off time and again to see who among them was the fastest, but this 2023, US Street Outlaws headed to Australia and battled it out against the ‘baddest’ Down Under in No Prep Racing.
- 1 “Street Outlaws” vs the world
- 2 US Street Outlaws No Prep Kings vs Australia
“Street Outlaws” vs the world
It was announced during the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show last December 2022 that the “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” would be touring the world, and that their first stop would be Australia in the first quarter of 2023. Fans couldn’t contain their excitement, because this was certainly something big and quite challenging for the guys as their skills on the track would be tested against the best racers across the globe; it would be interesting to see who would come out on top and earn bragging rights.
Drag racing scene in Australia
“Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings,” a spin-off series of “Street Outlaws,” turned the spotlight on No Prep Racing, and the interest in the sport increased Down Under, making it a hot trend in recent years as was evident by the huge crowd turnout at every event. No Prep was designed to mimic street racing, but in a controlled and relatively safer environment. In most forms of drag racing, the road surface was prepped, which meant that the dust was blown off the groove and the small rocks and debris were swept off. After that, to maximize performance, the track was sprayed with a traction substance to increase the grip between the racing surface and the tires. In No Prep, the road surface isn’t prepared prior to a race, making it more challenging for the drivers as they had to use their skills to compensate for the condition of the track. Some believed that this was what drew more fans to watch the series.
The rules and the technical requirements were simple, and there was no official sanctioning body. For Street Outlaws Australia, at least 50 cars across the state raced their way up the list on a no-prep surface. The eight to 10 meet series was organized by Michael “Gup” Gilbert of Powercruise, and held at the Sydney Motorsport Park in August 2021. As the 50 drivers vied for the top spot, other racers could participate in a grudge match, and along with a cash prize, the winner could challenge the ‘gatekeeper’ or the 50th on the list. Also, those on the list who failed to compete at an event would automatically be demoted to 10 spots.
Their initial ranking was based on a previous night racing event, and the top five contenders were Damian Baker (1984 XD Ford Falcon) at No.5, Tommy Kacsof (Holden LC Torana) at No.4, Nathan Ghosn (1970 Ford Capri) at No.3, Alon Vella (1971 Ford Capri) at No.2, and Jason Mansweto (1969 Ford Capri) at No.1. By the end of the night, only the top two drivers on the leaderboard defended their positions – Jason and Alon held on to their spots.
Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings is back! The two-night season premiere event starts Monday, October 11 at 8p on Discovery
Street Outlaws (Old Gang) OGs checked out the car scene in Australia
Powercuise was said to be the go-to for all kinds of driving events including Burnout, Drifting, and Off-Street Racing competitions. Back in 2016, Jeff Lutz and James “Doc” Love checked out the racing scene in Sydney, Australia during a Powercruise event – Haltech was one of the major sponsors. Australian-developed Haltech engine management system made its way into most of the Street Outlaws’ cars, and their people had been tuning those cars for quite some time. Doc’s 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo, nicknamed the Street Beast, which had been having a few engine issues the previous years, had incorporated this system to improve his car’s performance for season eight of the show.
In 2017, AZN and Farmtruck were special guests in Street Machine’s Summernats 30, the largest car festival Down Under. They got a taste of the Aussie-style tire-destroying burnouts, and it was unlike anything they had ever seen or experienced before; they explained that in the US, they did burnouts to prep the track for drag racing. The following year, they were invited to participate in the burnout competition in which they had to perform a minimum of one-minute-long burnout. They were judged for the continuous huge cloud of smoke produced, car speed doing 180s and 360s on the skid pad, and popping the tires. They didn’t make it to the finals, but said that what was most important, was that they had a blast. This was featured in the “Burning Rubber Down Under” episode of season 13.
US Street Outlaws No Prep Kings vs Australia
The personalities in the series had amassed a following in Australia, and so this battle between the Americans and the Aussies created a huge buzz. The guys from Street Outlaws had been bragging about being the best and fastest on the street and on the track since the show had been launched, undoubtedly attracting the attention of race car drivers from all over, and this sojourn to Australia was a great way to test that.
The US team was comprised of 10 drivers including Ryan Martin, Kye Kelley, Lizzy Musi and Jeff Lutz – Shawn “Murder Nova” Ellington, as the Street Outlaws racemaster, came as well. AZN and Farmtruck wouldn’t miss this for the world. The Aussie racers were chosen by Discovery Channel after sending in applications, as there was a call-out type line-up, and the cars had to be approved by the organizers. It created a controversy, as some thought that it gave the prospective contenders a short lead time, and no hard rules on the car builds or techs. Many believed that the reason for this wasn’t about giving racers equal chances to participate, but more about making good TV.
It would be held at the drag strip in four cities – Perth Motorplex, Willowbank Raceway near Brisbane, Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne, and Sydney Dragway. To get to Australia, the guys had to transfer planes several times, and the flights were long and exhausting considering most of them were in economy class. However, what made it worthwhile was knowing that in the end, they got to race. After they landed in Australia, they checked out the condition of their cars. Each team was instructed to drain all the fluids out of the car before it was transported via a boat two months prior. So, they had a lot of things to do to get the car running and gear up for the upcoming races. With all the preparations they had been doing, they made sure that they spent some time chilling and relaxing, as they explored what each city had to offer.
Car mishaps Down Under
Ryan Martin, three-time No Prep Kings Champion, was unable to take part in the first racing event at Perth Motorplex, because a mishap occurred during the third run of testing, and he lost control of his 1969 Camaro. Apparently, just as soon as he left off the throttle after he crossed the finish line, it made a hard left move toward the wall – he tried to control it but not in time to avoid smacking the wall. Many were surprised by this, as he had a spotless driving record. Fortunately there wasn’t even a scratch on him, however, his small-tire car sustained some damage on the front end, but the chassis was fixable. Finding a replacement for a carbon-fiber front clip was difficult, but he was confident they could make the necessary repairs. It was up and running in time for the second event at the Willowbank Raceway.
It wasn’t only during a race or a test run that a car could be wrecked or sustain some damage, as it could also happen in an accident when transporting it. The guys were understandably concerned about the state of their cars because they didn’t know how they would fare while being shipped from the US to Australia. Farmtruck, in particular, was most anxious about it; he had lost sleep worrying about it being stuck at customs, the container sliding off into the ocean, pirates getting ahold of it, or a war breaking out. Fortunately, it arrived safe and sound.
The problem for some was when their cars were transported from one city to another. Since they used a shipping container instead of a car trailer, there were those that got bumped around, causing them to rub against the wall such as Kye Kelley’s Chevrolet Camaro, dubbed “Shocker.” Robin Roberts’ case was much more serious as his twin-turbocharged 1968 Firebird, nicknamed High Voltage, was on its way to Queensland when it was involved in an accident. According to news reports, after the filming in Perth, the car was loaded into a container, the same one used when it was shipped across the ocean. The truck left the drag strip by midnight, but reportedly, the driver who was in his 60s, fell asleep and drove off the road, causing the vehicle to roll over. He was taken to a hospital, and it was said that he along with the passenger only sustained minor injuries. In Robin’s Facebook post, he shared, ‘Car was ripped off its mounts so hard it slammed and dented the roof of the container, came down and stuck propped up on its side.’ The $500,000-valued car was said to be repairable after close inspection, so Robin got to race at the Willowbank Raceway.
The rules of the game
It was important to establish the rules to ensure a fair game, particularly since the US and Australian teams might differ on how they raced. This was No Prep Racing, and all the races would be 1/8th mile with the race master having the final say on the timing system, discrepancies and calls. Lane choice and pairings were decided via a chip draw. Safety was a big concern, so all cars must meet inspection, and should have NHRA, IHRA, or ANDRA chassis certification. Jumping and crossing the center line would warrant disqualification, unless the race was over.
For grudge racing with small-tire and black-tire cars participating, the racers could negotiate amongst themselves in an effort to create parity. For instance, one could be given a back-tire advantage in which one could stage the car with the rear tires on the starting line instead of at the front. Also, one could be granted a head start by the opponent. For some, it took 10 to 15 minutes just to get both parties to agree on how to race, while others only needed 30 seconds. Pre-game negotiations such as these were common in Street Outlaws, but not to the Aussies, so it might seem to them that they were being hustled.
The first event at Perth Motorplex
The US vs Australia racing event kicked off on 23 February 2023, at Perth Motorplex, Kwinana Beach, Western Australia for a two-day No Prep, eighth-mile racing. The Street Outlaws team had 28 wins while the locals only had six. It seemed, however, that it didn’t diminish the fun for Glen van Dongen’s Chevy Nova, who raced against Justin Swanstrom’s Fox-body Mustang, as he was just thrilled to make that run and said, ‘We raced the rock stars of our sport, and for a few days, we all got to feel like a rock star too.’
One of the highlights of the event was said to be a showdown between the Top Doorslammer legend John “Zap” Zappia’s Rat Monaro, and Jeff Lutz’s twin-turbo GTO to which the latter won twice. Zap said, ‘We had some great races against Jeff Lutz even though they hustled us on the first one. Those Americans sure stick together as a team to take the money, while all the Aussies just wanted to race!’ Apparently, he wanted to race Jeff three times for the crowd to see ‘two well-matched cars racing their hardest, but the whole TV show nature of it is hard to break.’
Some of the locals who won included Phil Rowles in his ProCharged small-block Mazda RX-4 against Disco Dean’ Karns’s “Stinky Pinky” Chevelle, as well as Roger Moorhouse’s HR Ute against Lizzy Musi.
Will the U.S. team sustain its winning streak?
The Street Outlaws team had a great start at Perth, as it seemed they’d got the lay of the land, so to speak, and conquered the Aussie road. They came up on top again for the second event at the Willowbank Raceway. Not much detail was released on the results of every race, despite the numerous videos online. Most of those who participated uploaded their adventure via their YouTube Channels, so their fans basically had a clue about how things went.
Scott Taylor revealed that he had a 13-0 winning streak, so it appeared that everything went well for him at every track. Jeff Lutz said that he lost a race at the Sydney Dragway, which was the third event, due to some issues with his car, but expected to bounce back at the finale. Interestingly, the drag strip there was prepped, which confused some people because they thought the race was supposed to be a No Prep one. However, the Street Outlaws guys were used to racing on all kinds of tracks, so it wasn’t that much of an issue.
Right after the Perth event, Murder Nova had pretty much gauged how the rest of the events were going to be run, and it seemed that he wasn’t worried at all. He was confident that the team had a good chance of winning overall. It appeared that although Australia had good engines, chassis, and parts, the US had better technology that enabled them to perform well at the races. He explained that with good traction control, they could get 90% of the passes. It might not get the car faster but it would keep the driver from aborting a run.
— Drag Racing Scene (@DragRacingScene) June 23, 2017
Not wanting to sound too arrogant, he said he believed that the Aussies’ style of racing was similar to that of Chuck Seitsinger’s from 405, which was racing by the seat of their pants. He said that while there was nothing wrong with that, it didn’t make for a consistent performance. Win or lose, Murder Nova said that they came to Australia not just to race, but more importantly to meet their fans. After all, No Prep Kings was a way for them to give back to the support and love they received by interacting with as many fans as they could at every track in every city they went to for racing.
Ryan Martin was interviewed once he was back in the U.S., and he talked about how the competition was not as tight as he expected. He didn’t want to talk smack against the Aussies, because he said that it wasn’t fair to them. He then explained how the No Prep Kings crew could handle any kind of road surface, but the Aussies weren’t used to that. ‘To say that they weren’t ready is not really, not really fair. They just don’t do what we do.’
Fans would have to wait until they watched what happened in Australia when it aired on Discovery Channel. It would be interesting to see the guys racing together, instead of against each other.