Prior to his appearance on the “Street Outlaws” franchises’ recently-completed “Mega Cash Days” series on the Discovery Channel, few outside of southern California had ever heard of Brandon James — but no doubt, they know his name now.
The 28-year old racer, who had never before taken part in a Street Outlaws filming, was one 64 racers from around the country invited to participate in the largest and most lucrative “cash days” ever; among his competition were former No Prep Kings champions James Finney, Mike Murillo, and Ryan Martin, along With “Murder Nova” Shawn Ellington, “Big Chief” Justin Shearer, Kye Kelley, Memphis’ JJ DaBoss, and a long list of the creme of the crop racers in big-tire racing.
Hosted by “BoostedGT” Chris Hamilton, the double-elimination format of Mega Cash Days meant a racer could lose and still advance — and win it all. But Brandon had no such intentions….so dominant was he that he went unbeaten, untied, and unscored-upon through six rounds of racing, defeating Memphis heavy-hitter Dennis Bailey in the finale, for $100,000. Adding in the round-win money he accumulated along the way, Brandon left Nebraska with 135-large in his pocket.
Brandon began racing a handful of years ago after attending Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School — he and his father, Shannon, had friends who raced and they were scratching the itch to get involved themselves. The father-son team bought a ’56 Chevy Bel Air and campaigned it in B/Gas (an 8.60 index category) on the west coast for a time, before transitioning to the ’68 Mustang that would ultimately prove everyone’s worst nightmare on Mega Cash Days.
I wanted to be seen as a contender, someone that when you lined up with me, you were just as scared of me as I was of them.
A naturally-aspirated 632-inch big-block initially powered the first-gen in B/Gas competition, later giving way to a 421-inch small-block with twin 76mm turbos. The Jameses got linked up with west coast street and no-prep star Jay Boddie a couple of years back and began no-time racing, and it was all up from there. A billet small-block and larger 88mm turbos upped their competitiveness. Boddie recognized their determination and got the word out to get them involved in the “No Prep Kings” series in 2020. When the Coronavirus pandemic struck the scheduled season down, “Street Outlaws” transitioned to the streets, and the Jameses were welcomed to take part in the 64-car shootout.
“This journey all started with No Prep Kings…that car was just going to be on the track, but things changed and we wanted to race. The street was the next thing, and we had to conquer it,” Brandon says.
Brandon had dabbled in acceleration contests on the street with his daily drivers, but prior to testing for Mega Cash Days, had never before driven a car of his Mustang’s caliber on the street — a point which makes his triumph over seasoned street veterans all the more impressive.
Being a relative unknown, Brandon went into Mega Cash Days knowing his car was better than his competition believed it was.
“We had a couple spots back home in Modesto [CA] where we were testing, and we saw that the car had potential and from that point, we were in it to win it. We knew we had a hot rod, and it was a car to beat,” he says.
While winning was on the mind, Brandon went into the race realistic about his chances against the caliber of competitors he was up against.
“We obviously went wanting to win, but the expectation was to go rounds…we certainly didn’t think we were going to win it undefeated. It was never like that, we just wanted to prove that as a team we belonged, and whether we won it or not, have people know who we are,” he explains.
I don’t let many things rattle me…I just stay concentrated and focused on the job at hand. And the job at hand there was winning the whole thing.
Hamilton and the show’s producers continually moved the course to return to virgin concrete and keep racers’ on their toes. While others struggled to get a handle on it, Brandon and his tuner, Jeff Glasco, adapted and persevered.
“We weren’t prepared for that…the first pass going the opposite direction, we were hazing the tires all the way down,” Brandon says. “It was a pedal-fest. Everyone had to race the road, but it just took us one pass to figure it out, and fortunately, it took everyone else a little longer than that.”
“A lot of people don’t think I have much seat time in the car, but I was so comfortable in the car that it didn’t matter what anyone else did,” he adds. “It didn’t really bother me. That’s an advantage for me, because I don’t let many things rattle me…I just stay concentrated and focused on the job at hand. And the job at hand there was winning the whole thing.”
Parallels can certainly be drawn to New Orleans’ Kye Kelley, who as a complete unknown, triumphed in the Street Outlaws’ very first “Cash Days” and became an overnight sensation. Brandon remains humble in victory, sidestepping any notion of fame but nevertheless excited about the doors that his victory has already and and could continue to open for his racing endeavors.
“It’s allowed us to continue being a part of all this, and there’s only more exposure to come from here. We want to win and prove that this win wasn’t a fluke and we deserve to be here. We don’t want to win one thing and disappear, but always be a contender. But I don’t think of myself as a star…I didn’t get into this to be on TV. These guys are all the best of the best in street racing, and we just wanted to be up there with them. I wanted to be seen as a contender, someone that when you lined up with me, you were just as scared of me as I was of you.”
Catch the premiere of the Street Outlaws’ newest series, “America’s List” Monday, April 12 at 8 p.m. ET.