One of the most popular reality shows on Discovery Channel, “Street Outlaws”, has been airing since 10 June 2013, and follows illegal street racing based in in Oklahoma City. The series today stars Justin Shearer, Kye Kelley and Travis Santa Cruz, and follows them as they’re spending a lot of money on their cars, and racing them against other street racers for money and respect. The show numbers 14 seasons, and has been nominated for a single award: a 2015 California on Location Award for Location Professional of the Year – Reality Television (for Michael Percival). Two video games based on the series have been developed: “Street Outlaws: The List” on 22 October 2019, which received mostly negative reviews, and its sequel “Street Outlaws 2: Winer Takes All” on 21 September 2021, which has had a rather better reception.
Most of the show’s fans claim that it is nearly 100 percent real, and that it’s great in depicting the illegal races taking place on American streets, however, the show has also been heavily criticized for not being so real, with critics claiming that many of the conversations and races have been staged, and that the races themselves are made legal prior to the shooting of the episodes. We’re going to mention some of the fake things about “Street Outlaws” which, when known, might make the series a little less interesting for you.
- 1 The racers aren’t poor
- 2 The races aren’t really illegal
- 3 Racers test the streets before racing
- 4 The rivalries between the racers are scripted
- 5 The police are friends of the show
- 6 Races have racing permits
- 7 The level of scripting in the show
- 8 Races take part on public roads
- 9 ‘The List’
- 10 The spin-off – “Street Outlaws: Memphis”
The racers aren’t poor
You will often find the racers interviewed in the show talking about their financial situation, and claiming that they need to win a race to be able to pay their bills and improve their cars. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as most of the cast is quite rich, with their net worth being over $1 million.
One of the show’s main stars, Justin ‘Big Chief’ Shearer, has a net worth estimated at more than $2 million, while his car is valued at more than $150,000. Sean ‘Farmtruck’ Whitley also has a net worth of around $2 million, while David ‘Daddy Dave’ Comstock is right behind with $1.5 million. It’s also interesting to mention that Shawn ‘Murder Nova’ Ellington has a net worth of $500,000.
Besides earning money by winning races, the stars of the show “Street Outlaws” also earn from their sponsors, from the show’s success, and from their own merchandise being sold on the internet. This means that their claims about being poor are somewhat false, and are only there to add a bit more drama to the series.
The races aren’t really illegal
While the races are indeed real, with everyone doing their best to win and win some money, it’s been pointed out by many fans that these aren’t really illegal, because if they were, then the cast members would’ve been arrested a long time ago.
The largest auto racing organization in the world – National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) – has threatened to take away the licenses which it has given out to those taking part in the show, claiming that it ruins the organization’s reputation, and that it’s highly dangerous. The situation eased when Big Chief joined NHRA, but they have still continued to point out the danger of these races.
Police can rarely be seen in the show, and fans have claimed that even those couple of times when the racers flee or were chased by cops were staged.
Racers test the streets before racing
Many fans of “Street Outlaws” wrongly believe that when the cast races in the show, it’s actually their first time on that particular street. This is one of the biggest fake things in the series, because those who are to race are given an opportunity to scout the entire locations, as well as to ride the entire ‘track’ alone prior to racing their opponent.
Left lane, right lane, doesn't matter — Kye Kelley is gonna lead Nola to a win.
— Street Outlaws (@StreetOutlaws) February 10, 2022
This is allowed because of a couple of things, but mostly because the show producers want their drivers to be certain that the street is clean, to know exactly where the corners are and how tricky these are to take. This is all because the producers don’t want to see their racers crash, become injured or even lose their lives in a street race, and it’s why you don’t get to see many car crashes in the show.
There’s also a theory that some of the races have actually been organized at the exact same locations and in the same streets, which then makes it easier for the producers to prepare everything for the shooting and for the racers to drive, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
The rivalries between the racers are scripted
Another way to add to the show’s drama is to create rivalry between the racers. This is often used as a reason behind why two racers would go against each other on the street, and would challenge one another to a race.
The most common case is that one would boast around about having the fastest car which nobody can beat – bragging rights – and the other, having been insulted by this, would claim that he could beat him anytime. The heat between the drivers is apparently never real, and is sometimes compared to the heat seen between the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) cast.
It has also been pointed out by some fans that they’re aware of these events being scripted, but that they like it because they understand how less interesting “Street Outlaws” would be without it. They have also claimed that perhaps some of the arguments between racers are indeed real, and that they don’t usually bother about what’s real or fake, but simply enjoy the show.
The police are friends of the show
Even though you can often hear the racers talk about how scared they are of the police, the truth is that the police are quite aware of what is happening and where – a couple of fans have claimed to have actually seen police officers spending time with the racers on the set of “Street Outlaws”.
Not only that, but the police help with the shooting of the series by closing off the streets, thus making sure that no passing cars could endanger the lives of the racers, or their own.
By knowing this, the show is no longer about ‘outlaws’ and ‘illegal races’ as everything sounds legal now, especially because they literally have police working with them on the show. To try put seeds of doubt in their fans minds, the producers of “Street Outlaws” occasionally ‘persuade’ police to chase the racers, or simply talk about how the police have found out that they’re racing and are on their way, so that the cast would have to disappear.
Races have racing permits
Another interesting but disappointing fact about the show is that all the races which you can see in “Street Outlaws” have a permit, granted by local authorities. This is why you don’t get to see arrests in the show, why local people don’t immediately call the police when they hear the cars’ engines, and why the main cast is still there after eight years of the show, and not behind bars.
You have sometimes seen the change in race locations before the race happens, but have you ever wondered why this happens? While the show makes you think that the racers have received a tip about police knowing about the race and are coming to get them, the truth is that the particular race was denied a local permit, thus having to relocate to another venue.
The level of scripting in the show
It remains unknown how much scripting there is in the show, but it’s widely known that there’s not a single reality show that doesn’t have at least a bit of scripting. The producers of “Street Outlaws” aren’t interested in sharing these details with the show’s fans, while the cast might even be forbidden by their contracts to talk about it. What saves the day are perhaps the real personalities of the show’s stars, such as Big Chief and Daddy Dave, who really know a lot about street races, and who talk about some of their real life experiences in the show.
For example, Big Chief has been racing since he was only nine years old, and has numerous interesting stories to tell.
It’s sometimes explained by the fans of the show that a bit of scripting and ‘fake things’ is absolutely necessary to keep the show interesting and to add a little drama to it, but also to keep the people safe. Do you remember the time when a racer was spying on another racer from an ice-cream truck, wanting to learn about their car and how fast it actually was? Yes, that was one of the scripted scenes, but it was interesting to watch, wasn’t it?
Races take part on public roads
What has made fans wonder about the level of fake events in the show is the fact that all of the races take part on roads that are way too public, when an actual illegal street race should be as far as possible from any people who could hear them and report them to the police. These should take place on dark roads away from residential areas, while industrial locations would be perfect as there would be no one there working.
In “Street Outlaws”, you can see the racers driving their cars on streets which have so much lighting that one might think that it’s a NASCAR race. It becomes quite obvious that the racing route had been chosen carefully and prepared in advance, because it has to look good for the show. This is yet another item which has made many wonder how much of the show is fake, while some fans have claimed that the only real thing is the race itself, as both of the drivers want to win and gain recognition, however, some people have recently become skeptical about this, as well, claiming that even the races might be fixed.
Most of the cast members of “Street Outlaws” are racing for one thing: to be on ‘The List’;
this comprises the ten best street racers in Oklahoma City, and the #1 is currently Big Chief, who has nobody to challenge himself, but accept a challenge from #2.
The ratings work this way: in order to climb the list, one has to challenge a person who’s ranked better than him, while it doesn’t have to be a person who is exactly one place above him. It’s interesting to note that people from all around the US come to Oklahoma City to challenge the drivers, wanting to have their own name on ‘The List’.
The spin-off – “Street Outlaws: Memphis”
The spin-off from the show “Street Outlaws” has been airing since 2018, entitled “Street Outlaws: Memphis”, and today numbers only 21 episodes, and is a bit less popular than the original. The spin-off follows JJ Da Boss who is believed to be the best street racer in Memphis, Tennessee, while it also follows his friends, most of whom are also racers, and his family.
The show is said to be as scripted as “Street Outlaws”, and it’s believed that the races are legal in both. Those who are aware of that have written various reviews on “Street Outlaws: Memphis”, claiming that it’s still fun to watch, and giving it an average rating of 6/10.
Regardless, the viewing numbers suggest that both series are entertaining TV, and so are likely to be around for a while longer.