Drag racing is a tough sport to walk away from — there’s so much to love about it and racers will always find a reason to come back if they can. “Street Outlaws” star James Goad, who most know as “Reaper” on the hit reality show, lost both of his Camaros in a a devastating trailer fire last year. After losing everything, Goad mentally separated himself from racing due to the heartache the ordeal cause, and he didn’t plan on returning to drag racing. But thanks to encouragement from his fans, friends, and family he’s planning a comeback on the “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” (NPK) circuit.
After the fire, Goad had been spending his time working on other cars in his shop and wasn’t going to return to no-prep racing, but he started to reevaluate that decision after the chorus of encouragement from people grew too loud.
“The fans I’ve gained over the years are just awesome. I got so many messages on social media from fans telling me I needed to make a comeback after the fire. My Facebook and YouTube pages were just flooded with people offering support…I couldn’t turn my back on them.”
Goad’s wife, Stacy, also began dropping hints that he should get back in the racing game. She was never a fan of him being on the 405 show, however, she wanted to see Goad make a return to NPK and win an event since he never had that chance before the fire.
Tyree Smith from Tytech Performance has played a key role in Goad’s return to racing. According to Goad, the one thing that’s always been missing from his racing program is a fully stocked team of people to help him at every event. Now that he’s partnering with Smith, Goad thinks he’ll be able to race at the highest level possible each weekend.
“One of the things I’ve always lacked is the trifecta that teams like Ryan Martin, Robin Roberts, and others have: a good car, a good team, and a semi-good driver…the driver is the least important part of the equation. I’ve had Nick Bruder tuning my cars for a while, and when I had Nick and his brother Rich both helping me we almost won at Bristol. Tyree Smith is good at what he does and he’s going to be a big help. Now I’ll be able to interact with the fans more, he will take care of the car and hand me my driver’s suit when I need to clock into work,” Goad says.
Goad is bringing his new 1968 Camaro known as the “Red Reaper,” to the NPK series. This is the car he was building to replace the original Reaper Camaro before the fire, and it’s a nasty ride.
“My brother built this car for me. We went down to Chassis Engineering and they bent the tubing for him. They showed him how they build the chassis and he took it from there. We’ve built this car to be as light as possible compared to my other cars. I’ll be running a big-block Chevy and ProCharger in the Red Reaper,” Goad explains.
Some people might be shocked to see Goad returning to “Street Outlaws” following some of the things he’s said over the years since departing the original series. Goad sees the NPK show as a way for him to race and not have to deal with any of the issues he faced on the OKC show.
“At the end of the day, I’ll never go back on the 405 show. The reason I wanted to return to NPK is that there are no games — other than guessing the light, it’s about your ability. If you have a fast car and race hard, nobody dictates your fate at NPK but you. On the 405 show, my fate was only dictated partially by my actions and was influenced by others,” Goad states.
Speaking of guessing the light, Goad has some strong feelings on that subject and he has no plans to gamble on the starting line when he races.
“I won’t try to guess the light, I can promise you that. I will leave on green every time because to me that’s the right way to race. I can’t get mad at anybody who chooses that option because I have decided I won’t do it. If I lose because someone guessed the light that’s on me. I personally as a racer will just leave when I see the green light, and what others decide to do is on them. I want to win the right way, I don’t want any dark shadow hanging over any win I earn.”
The NPK series has changed a lot since the last time Goad was involved. He has seen just how fast many of the racers are and that’s playing into his plan to return to the track this year.
“I’ll be at the Cordova event to check things out and to see what these new racers are all about. My plan is to test the car in two weeks, and if everything goes right I’ll be racing at the Virginia event. I won’t bring this car out until it’s 100-percent ready to race. I want to come out swinging…I don’t want to let the people down that are supporting me. If I can’t show up and have a chance at winning I’ll wait until we have this car ready to go,” Goad says.
It will be interesting to see the return of the Reaper to the NPK series. James Goad has literally been through hell with his racing program and his new car could shake up the NPK series when it makes its debut.