For a guy who’s worked behind the scenes to make television and cinema a reality over his career, the opportunity to stand in front of the camera for a change is quite a role reversal for Giuseppe Gentile.
When he’s not behind the wheel on Discovery’s “Street Outlaws No Prep Kings” drag racing reality program, the California native and veteran street-turned-track-racer works for Disney Studios, where he’s been integral in constructing film sets for television shows like the 1990’s hit Home Improvement and Blackish, and big-screen smashes Pirates of the Caribbean and Armageddon, among others.
Gentile joined the “No Prep Kings” circuit in 2019, and in early 2022, debuted an all-new S550 Ford Mustang. At the same time, his Team Cali stablemate and good friend, Chris Michael, did the same with his astonishingly-gorgeous “Gucci” Chevrolet Nova. Michael campaigned the car in the season’s early months with well-known street and track racer Jay Boddie at the controls, and following a crash at the Epping, New Hampshire race, teamed up with Gentile and brought the car back out in Tucson, Arizona to make a hard push through the back half of the season.
“Chris and I have been friends for a couple of years, and we talked about me driving the car before Boddie did,” Gentile explains. “He and his people knew about me, all of us being from California, and he had called and asked me some questions when he first started building Gucci, so we had already been talking and all well before we partnered to go racing. I tuned and drove his ‘Midnight Money’ Mustang on another one of the ‘Street Outlaws’ shows, so we knew we worked together really well before we teamed up on No Prep Kings.’ I got fitted for Gucci originally, and then we decided to do our deal with the Mustang. Boddie hopped in Gucci, and then a few races in he decided to go do his own thing with his Camaro, and the timing just worked out, with the budget and finances, for me to jump in with Chris. He wants to win, and so he invests whatever it takes into it. The first year he was just happy to be there, but now he’s got the bug and he wants to win.”
Michaels’ creation, built by Larry Jeffers Race Cars, had been unveiled just months prior to the season opener, to critical acclaim at the Performance Racing Industry show, and had already curated a strong following thanks to its show-stopping looks. After its unfortunate brush with the wall in Epping, the team returned with renewed vigor, intent to match the performance to the so-clean-you-could-eat-off-of-it looks of the car. Gentile raced his way into the invitational program numerous times in the latter half of the season, checking off a few round wins along the way, along with a seasons-best semifinal showing at the Rockingham, North Carolina stop.
“We just came out, with no testing, made a few changes, and just worked on it as we went,” Gentile says. “We were just testing as we were going race to race. We moved the four-link around to try getting the car to work, because it just wasn’t happy. We took my torque converter out of the turbo Mustang I ran, and my wastegates, so that it was easier for us to get a baseline on the tune-up, since I knew my parts so well. We made a few changes on the front suspension to figure out a balance. We got a handle on it pretty quick, and it wold have been better if we’d had time to test. The motor ran good, so we had zero issues with that. We had to race our way in, because we came out so late in the season, but we made it to the semis and went some rounds late in the year.”
The car, with its twin Precision 88mm turbos and Noonan 4.9 Hemi combination, proved itself a highly capable contender, with Gentile tuning the chassis and Kenny Lutz dialing in the horsepower on the laptop. And going rounds only lit the fire of the high-energy Michael to take the program to another level in pursuit of race wins in 2023.
Following the season’s conclusion in Dallas, Texas, Gucci was dropped off at Jeffers’ shop for a myriad of changes, including the switch to a FuelTech ECU, a new ProCharger F-4X-44, a lighter carbon-fiber nose, new doors, and fresh paint. A new M&M torque converter tuned to the ProCharger is also going in, and a spare Noonan Hemi is being prepared for what is expected to be another busy season criss-crossing the nation.
The car, as always, will come out first-class, and Michael wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s that focus on showmanship in material form that has produced a strong following for the Gucci Nova.
“The car itself has a following, because people love that car,” Gentile says. “It’s so nice. Chris is really anal about how nice and polished and clean it has to be all the time. The paint has to be perfect, and it’s almost hard to work on because it’s so nice. Everything Chris has is nice…top of the line.”
Once Jeffers and company wrap the offseason checklist, Gentile, Michael, and the whole Bad Intentions Racing camp plan to hit the ground running before the expected late spring start to season five of the no-prep racing roadshow.
“If the car is done in time, the plan is to go do some testing. We had intentions of testing, testing, testing, because every season that I’ve ever started, I’ve just gone out one time and then went out to race. I really wanted to come out tested this past year, and it didn’t work out that way, but hopefully, if we get everything done in time, we’ll get a lot of laps on Gucci before we ever go race. We want to come out and have that thing running and hauling ass,” Gentile says.
With his more frequent appearances in the invitational — and the subsequent round wins — Gentile has gained some opportunities for a little face-time on camera.
“The television thing is certainly part of it, but I just love the fans. That’s the big thing for me. They’re so cool, and the races are packed…the fans are hardcore and they follow all our races and know their stuff. The TV is a bonus, and while I wouldn’t say I necessarily like it, it’s something I have to do. The racing is competitive, and I like that part, because it’s hard as hell to win. Like everybody else, we want to prove a point that we’re the baddest guys out there, and on ‘No Prep Kings,’ if you do it, you are. So, that’s cool. The TV thing? Eh…it’s fun. You talk some shit, go back and forth, that’s fun. Especially if you’re winning.”