Grit, determination, teamwork, and true talent culminated in sweet success for “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” star Kayla Morton. Capturing a win not once but twice is a feat few drivers can lay claim to – but the queen of no-prep racing can now proudly add the accolade to her already impressive résumé.
Kayla, now 35, grew up in a garage alongside her father, former Pro Stock racer Stanley Morton, and learned the ins and outs of drag racing from him. Stanley always encouraged his daughter to pursue her dreams and instilled patience in her as she worked towards making them a reality.
After winning Outlaw Armageddon in 2019 and earning various other victories, Kayla took some time off to focus on her family and on her non-racing career working as a CrossFit coach. Although she was a little off the radar for the 2021 “No Prep Kings” season, she was quick to get back into the swing of things when season five got rolling in 2022…but the unexpected happened, and her momentum was short-lived.
“We blew up the big-block Ford engine in Florida during the first race of the series,” lamented the popular no-prep racer. Fortunately, her “Team Game Changer” teammate Stephen Brindle stepped in with a huge favor and let Kayla borrow one of his spare Pro Line Racing-built MH6 HEMI engines to run in her “Hot Mess Express” ProCharged 2005 Ford Mustang. “His engine has been in the car now for the back half of the season, so Stephen has just as much a part of these wins as anyone else. To be a top dog out there, you have to have Pro Line power.”
With tuner Chase Driskell manning the keyboard controls, Kayla put plenty of laps on her fifth-generation Mustang in testing to get the combination dialed in. “We were getting quicker and knew we had a shot,” shared the woman whose conviction was also rapidly improving. “No one was wanting to draw my name anymore.”
The weekend of September 9-10, Kayla rolled into Arizona’s Tucson Dragway ready to rip in the Big Tire Invitational class. She knew her S197 had plenty of potential on tap to be competitive, and she was feeling confident. “Everything just fell into place…it rained a ton on Friday and it was good for us because it made the surface even trickier than it would normally be,” Kayla explained of the racing surface. “I drew Monza and we’ve beat him every time, so that was comfortable for me. And things just kept going my way.”
Kayla defeated Scott Taylor in the second round of eliminations which was a big boost to her confidence. Then, David Gates went down, and so did Kye Kelley. “I might as well take out the whole NOLA crew at this point,” she laughed. “After Kye, Chase said ‘we’re winning, it’s not an option to lose,’ and he made me repeat it over and over, so that was my thought process going into pre-stage.”
A huge weight was lifted off of Kayla’s shoulders when she did exactly that: she won over John Odom in the final round. Her first ever win on the “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” circuit, the victory not only marked her as the second woman to accomplish such a feat, but it affirmed for Kayla that she had the right parts, the right people, and the right package to run at the front.
“We work so hard, but it was at the point where it almost seemed impossible…and I realized, it is obtainable! It is possible!” proclaimed Kayla, who has been wanting the win for the last three years. “The best part, though, was being able to give my dad the trophy, because he deserves it and works the hardest out of all of us.”
Kayla’s first “No Prep Kings” win was a hugely emotional moment for the father and daughter, as she considers him to be the most important person in her life, other than her two sons and her longtime boyfriend and fellow “Street Outlaws” star, Chris “BoostedGT” Hamilton.
“My dad and I are best friends. We can go from throwing wrenches at each other one moment to hugging it out the next,” she laughed. The two share a close bond that even the tension of competition can’t break, and the parent-child dynamic takes precedence over anything racing-related. “My dad will always be my dad first, and my crew chief second. When he’s disappointed in me, it’s never because of mistakes I’ve made on the track or driver error or my abilities…it’s because maybe I was short with a fan.”
We’re going to maintain this momentum moving forward. The future plan is to give Ryan Martin some real competition for the championship. I want it, and I think we’re capable of getting it.
Coming off of what had felt like “a fairytale” weekend, Kayla and crew headed to Alabama International Dragway in Steele, Alabama, on October 21-22 but things went sideways early on. “We had a mishap with Kallee Mills on Friday night. I ran into her,” confessed Kayla, who was a little shaken up as a result of the crash and not entirely confident in her car anymore. “It wasn’t a track we would typically run, and it was more radial-prepped than we’re used to. We hadn’t practiced for that. It was stressful.”
When teammate Cody Baker broke and wasn’t able to take the first-round bye run, Kayla flipped a coin with Shawn Wilhoit and Brody Melton to determine who would take it. The toss turned in her favor, and she got to collect some crucial data when she ran uncontested as a result. After that, her confidence returned in full force and she focused on manifesting a repeat of Tucson.
“It was like we had a plan and I was executing it round after round. I expected to win,” she explained. When Kayla drew multi-time NPK champion Ryan Martin in the semi-finals, she wasn’t worried in the least. “We have the same combination and I’d pick Chase [Driskell] over Steve Petty any day.”
Kayla did advance over Martin and lined up against Kelley once again in the final. In what she confesses was one of the top three closest rounds she’s had all year, the two were window-to-window down to the stripe. “I had him a little on the tree but there was one point where I thought he’d beat me,” she admitted. “Then, ol’ PLR power sat down and reeled him in at the finish line. We blew it up on that pass, but it was worth it!”
Scoring two wins was almost unbelievable for Kayla, especially as she had gone from one seeming impossible to two being undeniable. “In Arizona, it was an unrealistic expectation to win. Then we did, and in Alabama, I expected it because I knew I could do it,” she clarified of her contrasting feelings between outings.
Although the glory goes to the driver, Kayla is quick to share the love with her team and partners who make it all possible in the first place.
In addition to ProCharger-supercharged Pro Line Racing-built Hemi power under her Mustang’s hood – tuned by Driskell Racing Services via a FuelTech FT600 EFI system, of course – Kayla also trusts Billet Atomizer fuel injectors and an M&M Transmissions two-speed Turbo 400 with matching M&M torque converter to propel her down the track. Running on an unprepped surface, too, also requires top-notch suspension components to stay hooked up with traction when it matters most. There, Kayla relies on Santhuff.
Racing at such a high level in such a competitive series is not an easy task, and Kayla also receives additional assistance from Black Sheep Mafia and Wiley Speed Shop. Additionally, she recently partnered with Rawlings Barnes to help manage her quickly growing career as well as build her brand, Fiftyx2 Apparel, to help further fund her racing endeavors.
In between coaching CrossFit and spreading her love of improving lives through healthy habits via her subscription-based “Fast Fitness” training program, Kayla hustles hard and refuses to let life get her down. She’s got big plans, too, and is hungry to make more wins happen.
“We’re going to maintain this momentum moving forward. The future plan is to give Ryan [Martin] some real competition for the championship. I want it, and I think we’re capable of getting it. I’m going to give it all I’ve got in 2023 and shake some shit up,” proclaimed the “Hot Mess Express” pilot and two-time “No Prep Kings” Big Tire Invitational winner.
Kayla’s father has taught her many lessons over the years, but he’s shown her the importance of racing with integrity and winning with grace. Now, she’s the one getting to bask in the winner’s circle spotlight and the second-generation celebrations are memories that the entire family will treasure for a lifetime.