It's a well-known fact that reality shows are plagued with drama and legal troubles, but the Discovery Channel's Street Outlaws was a cut above the rest. As it turns out, when you combine money, fame, fast cars, and reckless decisions, you end up with a slew of crime, death, and angry hot rodders.
Sometimes the racing crew would find themselves in hot water thanks to their illegal hobbies and dangerous ways. Other times they would end up the target of spiteful criminals who were also confessed fans of their show.
They may not create your typical reality show drama with in-house feuds and spats with the network but this cast has definitely seen their fair share of tough times. Through the years this cast has dealt with harrowing injuries and neverending red tape.
They've raced both legally and illegally, they've faced unemployment and prison stints. And to think it was all thanks to a show that pretty much everyone thought would be a dud.
Here are the 15 Dark Secrets You Didn't Know About Street Outlaws.
Justin “Big Chief” Shearer let the world in on a big secret, literally nobody had any faith in this show. Big Chief said it all started with smaller, independent media companies filming their races and everything grew from there.
When a company called 1320 Video's clips of the races blew up online, that's when the Discovery Channel came knocking.
Big Chief admitted that nobody, even the show's producers, thought it would last past the first season. Believing they had nothing to lose, the cast didn't hold back while filming season 1.
Their enthusiasm and racing talent wasn't lost on the Discovery Channel, who was so impressed with the show's freshman season they gave the gang 10 full seasons, so far.
Obviously, appearing on the show can give racers a boost in visibility. However, while it may help them gain fans, they might just find themselves losing their licenses in the process.
In 2015, the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) threatened drivers with the loss of their racing license should they appear on the show.
Naturally, drivers were upset and angry over the ultimatum and lashed out against the NHRA. The organization issued a response to the backlash.
Head of PR, Geno Eiffler, defended the statement, saying that the organization wanted to prevent licensed drivers from promoting an illegal and dangerous activity. He went to state that he hoped drivers would do the right thing, clearly indicating the NHRA had zero intentions of loosening their stance.
So, nobody had faith that the show would succeed, and the racing community (or parts of it, anyway) were heavily against the series even existing. What exactly was the point of filming Street Outlaws when pretty much nobody cared?
If you're Joe "Dominator" Woods (or a conspiracy theorist, we guess) you might have thought the Discovery Channel was a secret spy operation...no, seriously.
Dominator admitted he didn't trust the show's producers at all when they first began filming. In fact, he totally thought they were part of an "undercover sting" and that they were all going to end up in jail. Remember, street racing isn't exactly on the up and up.
Thankfully, Dominator was wrong and his crew became superstars instead. But that's mostly because...
Despite the controversy and worry surrounding Street Outlaws, there wasn't actually any illegal activity going down on the show. Every race was cleared and permitted by the city the crew happened to be visiting that episode.
The crew would put in for a permit, which would either be denied or approved by local officials. To keep things extra safe and legal, local police officers would often drop by to keep an eye on the races and the roads were always shut down for the racers' private use.
Really as far away from illegal (or street) as you can possibly get. Unfortunately, some cities, like Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, wound up changing their minds and eventually stopped allowing Street Outlaws to film on the streets.
In the case of Tulsa, the thinking was the same as the NHRA, the city was worried it would appear they were promoting illegal activity.
Because the races on the show were very contained and as safe and legal as possible, the racing crew began to feel antsy and impatient to get back to their old (illegal) ways.
There were are a lot of rules and regulations preventing them from really racing the way they would on an ordinary road... so, many of them just kept doing exactly that.
Big Chief admitted that some of the crew members will seek out local races in town the night before they are supposed to shoot. For the most part, he said they always ended up racing alone, they never did find other racers to contend with.
However, one memorable night in Louisana they stumbled across 4,000 people while trying to sneak in some race time. Oops.
Given all the controversy caused by Street Outlaws (and more than a little bad behavior by the crew itself) it was only a matter of time before someone ended up in dire straits.
Derek Travis learned that lesson the hard way when he was fired from his job due to his participation in the show. Travis said his boss at the time was uncomfortable with his illicit activities, which ultimately led to the loss of his employment.
That's OK, though, because Travis affirmed that his follow-up job was a much happier place. His new boss openly knew about his racing habits and perfectly fine with them-- especially thanks to Travis's busy 60-hour a week work schedule, all while still filming and squeezing in time to be a dad.
Not everyone was a fan of the one-time number one show on the Discovery Channel, apparently. At one point, the crews auto shop, Midwest Street Cars, was the target of a very different kind of illegal activity the crew certainly hadn't attempted to invite.
In 2015, an unknown gunman took aim at the shop, firing off 11 bullets into the building. Thankfully, the shop was closed and nobody was inside at the time. The business owner, Shawn Ellington, reported the suspect also approached his own home.
The police report recounted an incident in which a random motorcyclist told an "Involved Person," likely the owner, that he knew he was before showing him a gun he had on his person. Thank goodness nobody was hurt during this scary ordeal.
As previously mentioned, the Street Outlaws guys couldn't keep from racing illegally even when they were being paid by the Discovery Channel to do it the right way. Quite frequently, those illicit activities led to actual danger and injury. "Daddy" Dave Comstock found himself in the hospital thanks to his reckless behavior.
Comstock was hosting a no-prep night, which means nothing is sprayed on the road before the races and rubber is removed from the track. This is said to simulate a drag racing strip, which is obviously riskier than a prepared road.
Daddy flipped his car six times and slammed into a wall, prompting a serious need for medical attention. Daddy survived the wreck, but suffered a concussion and bruised lung in the process.
In spite of all the safety precautions taken on set, Street Outlaws was still a show about drag racing, and there will always be an inherent danger that comes along with such an activity. So, it should be no surprise that Big Chief wrecked his car while filming for the show.
While racing against Brian "Chucky" Davis, Big Chief crossed over the lane and hit Chucky's vehicle before his own car flipped and landed in a ditch. Chucky's car spun over a curb before finally stopping in a grassy area.
Big Chief suffered spinal cord injuries and a broken collarbone. Chucky reported back injuries due to the dangerous incident. Both racers were taken to the hospital right away and were able to be treated for their injuries.
It wasn't the horrendous accidents that brought about the early demise of two of the show's frequent racers. The reality of Butch DeMoss and Tyler "Flip" Piddy's untimely deaths was a lot more mundane and incredibly sad.
While exact causes of death are hard to come by, mostly seeming to be conjecture and rumors, there are a few details that everyone seems to agree on.
Butch was found dead in his home when he was only 43 of seemingly unknown causes. His death was said to be a surprise to those who knew him well. Flip was even younger when he passed at the age of 31.
Again, details of his exact cause of death were sparse, but some reports claimed the sad death was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Though they may have crashed their cars on occasion, the Street Outlaws gang really did take good care of their often expensive vehicles.
This, of course, eventually led to them being stolen by crooks. When James "The Reaper" Goad's vintage 1955 Chevy was stolen, Oklahoma City police knew just what to do: Ask the general public for tips.
The Reaper had said that he had worked on the car himself for many years and despite it's hefty price tag, he didn't think it would be possible to strip the car for parts, as most were specific to the vehicle itself.
Thankfully, the $175,000 was found only two days later and returned to its rightful owner. The pilfered car was in good working order when it was returned.
The Street Outlaw guys really found themselves with massive targets on their backs. Not only was The Reaper's Chevy nicked, but David "Bird" Jones's 1967 Chevy Camaro was plundered by thieves, as well. What is it with robbers and Chevys?
Bird confirmed the wrongdoing by revealing surveillance tapes that clearly showed a strange man making off with his vintage race car.
The Chevy had been damaged in a race shortly before the incident. The crook was able to simply steal the car while it was still sitting on a 36-foot trailer attached to his Ford truck in a hotel parking lot.
Bird reported the total loss to be around $100,000. There seems to be no word as to whether or not Bird's property was ever returned to him.
Having their expensive drag racers become the targets of thieves wasn't enough to keep the entire Street Outlaws crew on the straight-and-narrow.
Occasional racer, Ronnie Pollard, was arrested for his role in a massive theft ring. At least three men were arrested in 2015 in connection with a massive criminal undertaking that resulted in the theft of two engines worth a total of $500,000.
Pollard was not really a huge player in the operation and was arrested a full two weeks before the actual mastermind met his match.
Police said ringleader, Michael Moore, had been suspected of being involved with multiple theft rings and had always been too crafty for officers to bring him... until his dirty deeds finally caught up with him in the end.
Pollard wasn't the only Street Outlaws alum to get into trouble for his illegal activities, Pass Christian was also arrested for his side job.
Christian was found guilty of trafficking meth and was charged with seven counts by District Court, including a gun charge and one count of conspiracy. Along with the trafficking charges, Christian was accused of using his mechanic shop as a cover for his drug business.
Christian admitted to police that had, indeed, planned to sell the drugs and that he had been stockpiling a half a pound a month before he got caught. He also named his supplier to the police.
Peter had previously been brought in on similar charges multiple times before the big bust. Peters had previously been convicted of drug trafficking three times.
Speed kills and if you push your luck long enough, eventually somebody's going to get hurt. Unfortunately, when Izzy Valenzuela became involved in a deadly crash that wound up getting two bystanders killed.
Izzy was at first denied he had been on the scene, saying he had been in his shop the entire time. However, his alibi wasn't enough and he was arrested and charged with two counts of murder.
There were at least 60 witnesses to the race (probably why Izzy's ill-advised attempt to wriggle out of the blame failed so quickly), and reports gave the media reason to believe that Valenzuela had not actually been driving the killer Ford Mustang himself.
The actual driver, Gary Balyan, who borrowed the car, was ultimately sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Can you think of any other dark secrets about Street Outlaws? Sound off in the comments!