Fastest In America: Memphis Win Over NOLA Ignites Controversy

For the second time in as many seasons of the Discovery Channels’ “Street Outlaws Fastest In America” spinoff reality show, the team from New Orleans, headed up by the likes of Kye Kelley, Lizzy Musi, Jerry Bird, and Scott Taylor, faced off in the winner-take-all finale against Jonathan “JJ Da Boss” Day and his crew from Memphis. And in what has quickly become a heated topic on the world-wide web after its airing Monday evening (the show was filmed near Casper, Wyoming in late July) Memphis repeated and collected the $100,000 in a decisive 8-2 victory.

Kye Kelley and JJ Da Boss

The shows’ format, as it was in season one, pits 12 teams from around the nation in an elimination format, until only one team remains — that group then faces Memphis for the right to be crowned the fastest street racing team in America. Day hosts and flags the race, using traditional Memphis-style street racing rules (water burnouts, chase-is-a-race, and so on).

Few could argue — even Day and team Memphis itself — that New Orleans has more powerful and capable machines in its lineup, but the street serves as the equalizer, and on that night in July, it was indeed the equalizer. The New Orleans team struggled to get ahold of the rugged concrete on the closed-off State Highway 257. Memphis, meanwhile, seemingly had it all figured out, leading to its lucrative triumph and undefeated record in the “Fastest In America” series.

Because they had to endure three rounds of racing to make it to the finale and Memphis had not raced at all to that point, NOLA undoubtedly had more data and experience on the Wyoming road than did Memphis, but it proved all for naught when the two teams actually lined up.

Viewers immediately took to the web after the season finale, certain that New Orleans’ loss was scripted into the show or Memphis had created favorable conditions. Others defended the outcome, contending that everyone had to race the same road, and you either adapt or you go home empty-handed. The New Orleans contingent was quick to respond, asserting repeatedly that it did not, nor ever would, throw a race. But its members also suggest that the race may have been skewed in Memphis’ favor from the outset.

Said Kelley in response: “I’m not even gonna’ speak on tonight. I will say we weren’t paid to lose. I will also say I’ll never participate in anything else that rules get changed, roads get altered, or we don’t get to test where we are racing if the other team is allowed to. I will also never race a team that their team leader heads the rules and flags the race. You screw me once that’s on you, you screw me twice that’s on me. You screw me three times I’m just an idiot and I can promise you I’m not an idiot. NOLA is the fastest team in the land with no hustling, just straight up putting them on the line and beating down the pavement like men.”

Taylor added his own take, commenting: “The two main things I keep seeing floating around the net is that we just didn’t adapt well when the road got moved up and the other thing that bothers me the most is people are saying we took a dive. I’m going to start with the easier of the two. There are several reasons team NOLA struggled in the finals. I can list them but in my opinion it’s all just excuses, but in this instance I will share so y’all know what happened.’

1: [The] road got moved to a section that was very grooved up and it wouldn’t hold any rubber.

2: [The] burnout box was moved back 70-feet away from starting line which keeps us from attempting to lay rubber down during burnout.

3: It’s hard to win when you have your flagger leading the opposing team.

4: They lined all eight cars up and put us on a seven minute timer so we couldn’t make changes to the cars to adapt to the road condition.

“We don’t make excuses and that’s all those things I listed are. The only reason I shared them was to answer the second thing that I wanted to talk about: we would never take a dive, EVER. We fought to the last second trying to win. If you know me you know how competitive I am. Whether we are racing to lunch or across the yard or riding go carts with the kids, winning is all I think about. It’s in my blood, I guess. We lost and we will learn from it. No excuses we will lose again and we will win again.”

No doubt a little drama is good for ratings, and you can certainly view the race from two very different perspectives: NOLA wanted to put its high-powered cars on a section of road it had previously “worked-in”, while Memphis clearly performed better — and likely knew that would be the case — on the slicker surface. In the end, drag racing is about making the most of the conditions you’re presented with, and taking other factors out of the equation, Memphis was better on that night. But did they get hustled? If you tuned in and have an opinion, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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