The world of illegal street racing continues to find a place in today’s pop culture. Whether on TV or in big-screen depictions, the world is becoming more aware of the dangerous lifestyles of these drag racers.
In an effort to expand its presence even more (and cash in on its popularity), the Discovery Channel launched the Street Outlaws series in 2013. Following the lives and careers of local talent Oklahoma City and its surrounding areas, the series became helped to launch the careers of many racers, old and new. With the possibility of reaching a new audience and highlighting fresh talent, producers looked into expanding the franchise down into the Big Easy.
Street Outlaws: New Orleans premiered with OG racers from the original series and new racers for fans to get to know. Although the series maintained a somewhat loyal, fan base, the show eventual got canceled due to low ratings and poor reviews from viewers. The show came to an end after its second season. Though the series is no longer on air, many dedicated fans are unaware of some of the darker secrets of the series.
From the dark secrets of some racers’ pasts to the aftermath of some of their most horrific crashes, here are 15 Secrets Behind Street Outlaws: New Orleans.
15 It was Built Around the Popularity of Kye Kelley
The heart of the Street Outlaw: New Orleans series lies with the well-established and up-and-coming racers of the area. Some of the best street racers in the South gather at the Da Pad for the prize money and the glory.
Top racers for the New Orleans edition included Scott Taylor, Brandon Smith, Travis Santa Cruz , Shane Lester, Shannon Poole and Bobby Ducote. However, the spin-off show would be nothing without its central star, 31-year old street racer Kye Kelley.
Establishing himself as a capable racer on Street Outlaws, Kelley made a name for himself over the years in Mississippi and the surrounding areas.
His famed races against Oklahoma City big names including Daddy Dave made him a rising star. He continued to win races in other parts of the country including Texas and New Orleans, helping to expand his improving track record.
With his growing fame and need to expand the franchise, producers selected Kelley to lead the new cast in the Southern-focused version of the show. With such a popular and established racers attached to the new series, viewers gladly tuned in to the series to continue to watch Kelley expand his legacy in the street racing world.
14 The Idea for the Show Came from a Facebook Post
Producers did not initially expect the series to be as popular as it was. They first invested in the Street Outlaw and established a substantial audience before considering the need for expansion. Although the focus of the original series was the 405 and other nearby racing areas, the show slowly expanded to include other states in its focus. However, for Kelley, the true motivation to explore new ground arrived in the form of a simple Facebook post.
According to Dragzine, the initial idea of the New Orleans spinoff developed during season 1 of the original show. He explained, “They were looking for the fastest people in the South to run. We got a little racing page called ‘NTZ Racing,’ on Facebook. Also, Big Chief made a post on there … that’s where it all started. Cory Temple [Moonshine] tagged me, and us and New Orleans came together.”
Being familiar with the area (near his Mississippi stomping grounds), he decided to attend more races in the Big Easy. Since then, Kelley has established himself as a formable competitor in the area and producers found he was the perfect choice to expand the franchise to new territories.
Kelley and crew soon moved on from the original series to the newly established Street Outlaws: New Orleans show.
13 Rivalry with the Original Series
The producers’ move to create Street Outlaws: New Orleans helped to expand the audience for the franchise overall. Not only could viewers tune in to the original series but they could learn about more street racers in a new area.
With Kelley’s move to the new series, some viewers abandoned the old series to continue to watch his career develop on the new one. This move, however, did not go over well with some of the established racers of the old series. In fact, it led to a sort of rivalry between the two shows. Fans and racers of the original series expressed some displeasure in the new show.
Street Outlaws racer Sean “Farmtruck” Whitley became quite vocal about the new series, creating a Facebook video aimed at the crew.
In the video, he called the racers out for their lack of “trucks” in their races and promised to show up for a real challenge.
Some fans added comments about their disappointment with one viewer commenting “It’s not Street Outlaws without Farmtruck and AZN, New Orleans is just not cutting it for me doesn’t have that same feel y’all give. They’re racing in the city, y’all race in the country and nothing beats racing in the country.” The rivalry likely only helped promote both shows.
12 Where it all started
In the wake of the hugely successful movie franchise The Fast and the Furious, street racing has become more popular than ever. Although the sport itself has been around for decades, the new surge into pop culture makes it the perfect focus for a TV show.
Street Outlaws: New Orleans focused on the street car racing scene in Da Pad, one of the most popular racing areas in the state. However, the series was not the first for the franchise.
The original series, Street Outlaws, got its start out in the Midwest. Premiering back in 2013 on the Discovery Channel, the original show highlighted the best street racers in Oklahoma City, OK, and the surrounding areas.
Initially, fans were surprised at the location of the first show. The idea of Oklahoma being a hotspot for racing of this kind seemed very unlikely. However, the Midwest racers provided exciting episodes and competition, helping the show to soar in popularity and bring in substantial rating for the show.
The original series continued for six seasons before the demand to showcase more racing areas across the countries grew too great.
Street Outlaws: New Orleans finally debuted on February 22, 2016 with the inaugural episode “These Ain't No Saints”.
11 James Thames' Horrible Crash
Not surprisingly, drivers love the thrill of high-speed street racing and pushing themselves to the limit. Even the newcomers on Street Outlaws: New Orleans are not afraid to risk their lives for the possibility of being the top racer in the area.
Although most drivers take the necessary precautions to ensure their vehicles are in top condition, there are a few drivers that don’t take their safety seriously enough.
As one of the newest members of the New Orleans team in season 2, driver James Thames found himself in hot water for his racing mistakes.
In episode 6 “Back in Black”, Thames takes part in a tournament organized by fellow racer Scott Taylor. According to SpeedSociety, he was attempting to redeem himself in the Big Easy for previous mistakes. He had reportedly been “kicked off the New Orleans Big Tire list for safety reasons.” This race would prove to the street racing community that he was capable of competing again.
Driving his Corvette, Justice, he tried to prove himself in the NOLA racing circuit. However, as he began his approach to the finish line, he eased toward the guardrail, catapulting his car into a violent crash. His blue Corvette was torn to shreds, but thankfully, he sustained no significant injuries.
10 Kye Kelley's Messy Personal Life
Behind all the fast cars and dangerous racing, many of these drivers still live ordinary, everyday lives by day. Although the show does not highlight their personal lives very often, we do get glimpses into the lives of the drivers on Street Outlaws: NOLA.
For example, viewers learned about Kye Kelley’s personal life with his marriage to longtime girlfriend Alisa Mote back in 2015. However, his personal relationship created more headlines than his own show in the last few years.
His rocky relationship with Mate became fodder for many tabloids, and eventually, the two decided to get a divorce.
However, in the midst of their marriage, rumors began to circulate that Kelley was already on the rebound. Kelley’s new girlfriend was drag racer Lizzy Musi, daughter to PRO Street champion legend Pat Musi. The couple finally made their relationship official several months after Kelley’s divorce was finalized.
Fans hoped that the racing couple would make it down the aisle, but some believe the couple is no longer together. Considering Kelley kept his previous marriage as private as possible (despite the gossip columns), viewers still don’t know the status of the racing couple. Imagine what their wedding would be like: a racing fan’s dream!
9 Jerry Bird's Tucson Dragway Crash
New Orleans native Jerry Bird has made a name for himself in the NOLA racing world. Along with his brother and crew chief Darryl Bird, his racing history dates back over 30 years.
The Bird Boyz have made quite a name for themselves. Not only has Jerry Bird gained a reputation for his racing wins but also his racing catastrophes.
With his name frequently appearing in racing magazines and circulations for negative press, fans find themselves concerned for his well-being.
The latest of his many exploits took place earlier this year while racing at the Tucson Dragway in Arizona. While filming for Street Outlaws Live, Bird took to the race track in Ford Probe while racing against Scott Taylor. However, according to Dragzine, Bird “lost control just after the 660-foot finish stripe, turning hard left across the centerline and nearly collecting Taylor as he struck the retaining wall and tumbled to a stop in the shutdown area.”
The crash appeared pretty horrific with his car flipping and skidding down the track. Miraculously, Bird walked away with no serious injuries or any scratched and bruises. Bird recalled, “I haven’t crashed like that in almost 20 years. I knew it was time, that’s sad to say, but it comes with the territory. It happens.”
8 Kye Kelley Racism Controversy
Street Outlaw: NOLA fans were surprised to see racer Kye Kelley’s name being battered around for controversy outside of the track. Kelley returned to the gossip columns once again with more drama in his personal life. This time, the question of him being racist came into play. Back in 2017, Kelley took to Facebook to try to resolve the issue and explain his side of the story.
According to Starcasm, Kelley removed several individuals from his life due to personal reasons. However, the fact that they were black seemed to catch some individuals’ eyes, leading to him being called out.
In his statement, Kelley explained, “People who always have their hand out, people that don’t work and expect others to support them, just so happens those people aren’t white people so now them and several others are teaming up against me because let’s face it, it’s 2017 and some people still act like a certain race owes them something!!!”
Moreover, the alleged reason behind the friendship cleanup: the two friends who were removed had posted about their support for Kelley’s rivals, the Memphis Street Outlaws crew. Perhaps that rivalry between the shows is more severe than we imagined.
The two friends, known as Smoke and Rickey Toney on Facebook, tried to defend themselves, but to no avail.
7 Charlie Davis Crashed “The Lizzard” During A Show Taping
Although many viewers tune in to each week to see the best racers and drivers, there is no question that the cars definitely take center stage. From the most expensive, decked-out cars to the newest underdog vehicles, the cars have become just as well-known and popular as the drivers themselves.
When one of these famed vehicles gets involved in a major accident, fans are struck with worry for both the drivers and the vehicle in question.
Such was the case when driver Charlie Davis got into a major accident in “The Lizzard” back in 2016. While taping for the Cash Days race for Street Outlaws: New Orleans, famed No-Prep style driver Davis got involved in one serious looking accident.
Davis explained to Dragzine: “I was running against one of my friends, so I tried to do everything I could to make sure I didn’t hit him. The car went out of control and cleared the guardrail when I hit it. It was a smooth impact — after I landed I said to myself ‘did this really just happen?’”
While Davis walked away safely, “The Lizzard” looked completely totalled. However, Davis stated he would do all he could to repair that damage and being his car back on the track.
6 Jerry Bird Arrested While Racing
Bring a street car racer means you take your own life in your hands every time you race. The thrill of the competition motivates racers to come back time and time again to prove their worth. Despite the renewed interest in the sport thanks to programs like Street Outlaws: New Orleans, the simple fact is the sport itself is very much illegal!
Although crashes are a big concern for many of the drivers, so is jail time! Unfortunately, a member of the NOLA crew got into hot water for his racing back in 2017.
During a late-night street race in Dallas, Texas, Jerry Bird came face to face with the Fort Worth police.
Bird was facing his opponent, Blackbird Vega, in the last round of their race when they were alerted that local police had arrived on the scene. Though Vega managed to escape, Davis got caught and was promptly arrested with his beloved Ford Probe being impounded. In the end, Vega and Davis decided to call no winner for the race and amicably split the winnings for the race.
Davis even got his car out of the impound just in time to race in the Dirty South No Prep race in San Antonio.
5 Fans Petition To Bring The Show Back
After the expansion of the Street Outlaws franchise, Kye Kelley and crew tried to cash on the excitement of the racing scene in Da Pad.
Despite starting off strong in the ratings, Street Outlaws: NOLA simply did not capture the same spark as the original series. After being renewed for a second season, viewership continued to decline for the new episodes, leading the Discovery Channel to finally cancel the series. Although dedicated fans of the show hoped for a third season, announcements were made for a new show, Street Outlaws: Memphis, in its place. NOLA star Kye Kelley then moved on to a new series, Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings.
However, NOLA fans did not take kindly to their favorite show being canceled and did what they could to restore the series.
Several fans began contacting the Discovery Channel begging for the series to be brought back from cancellation.
On Change.org, user Brian Daniels started a petition to Discovery Channel’s Pilgrim Studios for reconsideration for the series. He stated that “The Drivers and crews of New Orleans have heart and Passion for street racing and are sincere and caring.” Although he fell short of his goal of 7500 signature, 6,451 users agreed with Daniels’ sentiments.
Unfortunately, there was not enough support for the show and the series ended in 2017.
4 Rhett Peters Is Arrested
Drivers that have appeared on Street Outlaws: New Orleans usually take this opportunity to gain more recognition in the driving community. If successful in winning their races, their onscreen appearance helps to boost their notoriety, making them popular competitors in New Orleans and beyond. However, one racer, Rhett Peters, found that his personal legal issues were amplified because of his appearance on the show.
According to the Sun Herald, Peters was arrested for trafficking and a firearm violation. They reported that police found various cooking tools, substances, and weapons in his home and vehicle. Peters confessed to purchasing illegal substances and named two dealers who had sold him the product.
However, this was not his first run-in with the law. He previously served time for “three convictions on transfer of [illegal substances] between 1996 to 2003." Nonetheless, he was hired by the Discovery Channel.
Peters had allegedly been selling illegal substances out of his mechanic shop for months before he was caught. Peter’s crimes come with a hefty sentence as well. If convicted, “he faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison, three years of probation and a $1 million fine.” No further updates have been given regarding his case.
3 David “Bird” Jones' Camero Was Stolen
Whether they are racers themselves or just spectators, the opportunity to see your favorite vehicle up close is very tempting. However, sometimes that desire turns into obsession, and that fan not only wants to see the vehicle but own it too.
Sadly, racer David “Bird” Jones became a victim of either a simple theft or an overzealous fan's obsession.
While staying at a Comfort Inn in Forest Hill in 2016, Texas, Jones’ race car was stolen from his hotel. Recognizable its appearances on Street Outlaws and the NOLA spinoff, his red, black, and silver 1967 Camaro was taken during the night. Not only was the racecar taken but his pickup truck and rig used to transport the car as well.
Jones worked with local authorities to file a report and began the search for his missing vehicle. He even offered a $13, 500 reward for information about its whereabouts or the perpetrator behind the crime. It's so sad to see all of his hard work and dedication take away so easily.
2 Bobby Ducote's New Car
During the course of any racer’s career, the connection between the driver and their vehicle is pretty sacred. Whether they continue with just one car or expand their collection, racers remain dedicated to their favorites over the years. However, as their records improve and more challenging matches lie ahead, sometimes a driver’s best option is to leave their favorites behind and start from scratch.
NOLA driver Bobby Ducote decided to expand his collection of cars and unveiled his new vehicle around Christmas 2017.
SpeedSociety highlighted the new car, noting that “Unlike either of Bobby’s other two rides – his now-sold Maverick most of us remember from the show from the show and his blue nitrous Mustang that looks similar to this car – this car will have a big tire tucked under the rear end. With this much horsepower on tap, it would be borderline [dangerous] to bolt up small tires, so Bobby is making the leap into the big tire world, and he’s bringing a big gun to the fight.”
Making room for his new addition, Ducote hopes to up his racing status and take on bigger and better competition on the track. We cannot wait to see how that new vehicle will perform!
1 Barry Nicholson's Return To Racing
Street Outlaw: New Orleans racer “The Godfather” Barry Nicholson has had his share of bad crashes over the years. Known for racing in his black Camaro, he gained a notable reputation on the racing circuit. However, in September of 2017, Nicholson found himself in another accident that almost cost him his car and his racing career.
According to Dragzine, Nicholson’s crash was so severe, he did not remember what happened that evening. His concussion caused him to forget the details of that day and several days following the accident. He remembered his family, but that was all. Regarding his injuries, they reported that “Emergency crews originally thought Nicholson fractured his leg in the crash, but he had actually fractured his pelvis when he hit the side of his racing seat.”
For weeks, Nicholson was confined to his home recovering from his injuries. However, this latest crash did not deter him from re-entering the racing track again. He worked to restore his vehicle with new parts and a new chassis.
He is in the process of repairs now with Dragzine stating that “The repair process has already begun on Nicholson’s Camaro so he can keep on racing. Don’t be surprised when you see Nicholson standing in the winner’s circle again soon, because he’s ready to show the world why you do not pick a fight with The Godfather on race day.”
Do you have any other Street Outlaws: New Orleans trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!