Two of “Street Outlaws’” most famous original team members are back in the spotlight with their latest unconventional builds. And, as usual, Sean “Farmtruck” Whitley and Jeff “AZN” Bonnett are also causing a little controversy with their unusual choices.
As the cars on the long-running Discovery Channel reality program become quicker, faster, and more purpose-built, and as the show even moved more towards on-track, no-prep racing, Farmtruck and AZN became surprisingly absent from the 405’s core crew of weekly racers. The hiatus was intentional on their part, though, as the longtime friends wanted to stay true to their street-style roots rather than build something more extreme. “We stuck to who we are and didn’t go after a full-blown Pro Mod-type racecar, mainly because we can’t afford it,” laughed Farmtruck. AZN agreed, adding that “it’s expensive, so we acted our wage.”
Farmtruck continued to explain that the guys simply don’t have the time to dedicate to a Pro Mod-type program, nor do they want to. “Hats off to the guys that do it, but we would rather put nitrous on a toilet than go that fast,” he asserted. The “oddity” builds are, admittedly, a much better fit for the duo who got mixed in with the street racing crew more by circumstance than by purpose and simply want to have fun on the street with whatever crazy concoctions and combinations they can conjure up.
I was excited to know they were reeling back the speed of the cars and the size of the tire for the new OG small tire show. – Jeff “AZN” Bonnett
Despite their decision to step back from regular appearances on the show and intentionally not competing for a coveted spot on the OKC’s “List,” Farmtruck and AZN still struggled slightly with an element of feeling left out. Seeing their peers evolving, and Ryan Martin’s sheer domination of the “No Prep Kings” series, had them wondering what it would be like to be a part of things…but that feeling was fleeting.
“We support everyone that’s putting every ounce of effort and money into their builds and racing programs, but, for us, we just enjoy doing what we do,” AZN shared, who appreciated having his own spinoff show for a season along with Farmtruck. “I do still feel like we were involved, though.”
However, things recently came full circle as the Street Outlaws’ season 15 returned the show to its original heritage by showcasing street racing (and streetable cars) yet again – which meant Farmtruck and AZN had the green light to get back to where they belong. “I was excited to know they were reeling back the speed of the cars and the size of the tire for the new OG small tire show,” stated AZN, whose “Jeeper Sleeper” 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was a perfect fit with its mandated Mickey Thompson 275 drag radial rubber.
Purchased about five years ago, AZN’s Jeep started its life as a true daily driver, but when he met the Modern Muscle Xtreme (MMX) team at the PRI Show, that all changed in a big way. “They had a 405 cubic-inch small-block Hemi engine for it, and it was fitting – hence the 405 – so I decided to see what they could do,” explained the man who sent his Jeep off to MMX to let owner and founder, Dave Weber, work his magic.
The MMX group turned AZN’s “Jeeper Sleeper” around in no time flat. Complete with a ProCharger F-1A-94 centrifugal supercharger, upgraded engine internals, ported factory intake with Hellcat throttle body, a Suncoast-built five-speed transmission, “Jeeper Sleeper” puts out more than 900 horsepower on E85 pump fuel…and that’s not including the extra that comes from the Nitrous Express bottle tagging along in the back of the Jeep alongside AZN’s other random cargo.
Helping the heavy beast hook are QA1 rear shocks, along with Bilstein front struts, and the factory-triangulated four-link suspension. AZN also has the Jeep set up with a two-step rev limiter and a transbrake, so he can leave off the line with full throttle potential simply by letting go of the button.
Upon completion, AZN immediately took his Jeep out to the “Street Outlaws Daily Driver Battle” – and won against some of the biggest names in town, including Big Chief, Daddy Dave, and Kamikaze. “It’s been my daily driver ever since, being that it’s so consistent,” he noted of his continued commitment to the unorthodox, small tire-equipped vehicle. “It’s still got heated front and rear seats, air conditioning, and remote start.”
Inspired by AZN’s success, Farmtruck acquired his own 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee as well. Dubbed “Penny.” His goal with the project was to evolve both as a racer and as a builder. “I wanted to put small tires on the Farm Truck and try that, but it’s set up for a big tire and we didn’t have time to make it work,” Farmtruck elaborated on why he went with something new rather than his tried-and-true platform. “My engine was also being rebuilt and I needed something quick…so, I called Dave at MMX, and he got me the Jeep and it worked out perfectly.”
Similar to AZN’s, Farmtruck’s Jeep also runs on 275 tires and has a nearly identical drivetrain. Although its engine is a touch smaller at 396 cubic inches, and is equipped with a Whipple twin-screw supercharger as well as an MMX-built transmission, “Penny” also uses a Dana 60 rearend. Additionally, it has Driveshaft Shop axles and a carbon-fiber driveshaft, the same components which can be found on AZN’s. Farmtruck did double down, though, as he’s got not one, but two bottles of Nitrous Express party juice strapped down in the back.
As to who’s Jeep is quicker, that’s a hot debate between Farmtruck and AZN. The two are fairly evenly matched, although peak power is produced at different points in the RPM range. “I think AZN’s is faster than mine, and he has more experience,” admitted Farmtruck, who was quickly countered by AZN, saying “Not by much, maybe not at all…I’ve seen Farmtruck’s license plate at least once.”
Regardless, both men have optimized their setups to better utilize of the Jeep’s all-wheel-drive platform – although they openly state that they don’t believe the AWD is a genuine game-changing advantage. While it’s true the Jeeps are better equipped at getting down under less-than-ideal conditions and on roads that aren’t quite as clean as they should be, the guys firmly believe that the Jeeps’ disadvantages counteract any benefits that may be on the table.
“How about the additional weight of the AWD drivetrain [as opposed to RWD]? How about the fact that it’s twice as difficult to put power to the tires because there’s more friction? How about the fact that you have fewer choices in drivetrain and that it’s more difficult to find suspension components for them?” mused AZN, who doesn’t feel that the AWD gives him any advantage whatsoever over a more traditional setup on a good road. Farmtruck, too, shares the same sentiment. “On a virgin or dirty road, being the first ones down, right off the trailer, we do have an advantage,” he affirmed. “But six, eight, or ten passes after that… there is none.”
Proving that they have plenty of muscle to be competitive, whether or not the AWD is helpful, both Farmtruck and AZN have found success during the just-aired season. A throwback to the original show, the guys had a blast mixing it up with their old 405 crew, as they put opponent after opponent back on the trailer.
After a strong season mixing it up with their 405 brethren against teams from various locales around the country, both men made it through to the late rounds of the season finale “Street Wars” race, where ultimately AZN lost to Martin by a slim margin and Farmtruck was defeated by Aaron Lopez’s H22-powered and AWD-equipped 1998 Honda Civic; Lopez went on to win the event outright. “It was just like the old days,” noted Farmtruck. “Our crew believed in us and we beat some tough cars. I’m proud of our team. I’m even proud of AZN!”
This show is what we do, it’s what we’ve done, and it’s a part of our character. It’s who we are.
Racing on behalf of Oklahoma City’s Team 405, Farmtruck wrapped things up ranked fifth overall in the standings among all racers that appeared on the season, with 8 wins and 4 losses in Penny, while AZN finished ninth with 7 wins and 5 losses in Jeeper Sleeper.
Having their twin Jeep Cherokees and being back in the Street Outlaws mix has been a blessing for the men, who consider their old-school, original crew status a badge of honor. “This show is what we do, it’s what we’ve done, and it’s a part of our character. It’s who we are,” professed AZN, who prides himself in being a part of the original group that existed even before the “Street Outlaws” show was a thing.
“We were heavily involved in street racing long before the show,” confirmed Farmtruck, who may not have had one of the fastest cars, but still found his niche and his place amongst the guys. “For them to ask us to race with them again, like we did way back in the day, it’s an honor and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”