Street racing is as dangerous as they come, and people who do this for a living or as a hobby know that no matter how careful, skilled, and experienced they are in driving powerful cars, accidents happen. Viewers were shocked when they witnessed how the race between Tricia Day and her husband, JJ Da Boss, in Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws: America’s List,” ended in an horrific crash.
Background on the show
The reality television show “Street Outlaws” gave an inside look at the street racing scene in America, primarily in Oklahoma. It caught the attention of car and racing enthusiasts from all over when it premiered on 10 June 2013, and with its success, Discovery launched several spin-offs – Tricia Day appeared in some of them.
As exciting and popular as the shows were, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the governing body of drag racing, was absolutely incensed because some of their members appeared in it when they knew full well that they couldn’t or shouldn’t condone street racing, which was not only illegal but also potentially dangerous. Those who engaged in this type of motorsport, whether spontaneous or coordinated, usually had no regard for safety, as the races were held on public roads where bystanders could get hurt and properties could be destroyed.
The controversial TV series claimed that the races were real, but perhaps to assure the public and those concerned, they said that the races in every episode were conducted with safety protocols in place within a controlled environment. However, even if it was scripted, the NHRA didn’t want to send the wrong message to the public that it was okay. In 2015, it sent letters warning its members that their licenses could be revoked should they continue to participate in a show that glorified street racing. As the letter to one of the members was posted online, the NHRA received criticisms from fans and supporters of the show. Considering that the original series was still airing after a decade, it appeared that the matter has been settled.
“Street Outlaws: Memphis”
If Oklahoma had Justin “Big Chief” Shearer at the helm, Memphis had Jonathan Day, better known as JJ Da Boss. Unlike team OKC, the drivers in Memphis didn’t have to compete to make it onto ‘the list’ of the fastest cars; for them, it was all about racing, hustling and betting.
JJ revealed how people from the network approached him about doing a reality-TV show, but he refused at first as he said that he didn’t street race for a living, but because it was something he loved and believed in. Then, a producer came and somehow convinced him to agree. He was told that should he agree, the cameras would be there to film them doing what they normally would during a race, without the production interfering or doing anything that would disrupt them. The show premiered in 2018, and JJ was proud to say that it wasn’t scripted at all.
Most members of his team, such as Jeffrey James (1996 Corvette, “Big Block Killa”), Kenneth Gulley (2003 Chevy S10, “Bounty Hunter”), and Jason Ainsworth (1969 Camaro, “Prosecutor”) who were introduced in the show, grew up together in a small town outside of Memphis with a population of 700. Street racing was very much a part of their lives and community, as they were out racing every Sunday after going to church.
Their family and friends have been racing for decades, and if one of them loses, they all lose; that’s the kind of relationship that they have. Precious Cooper, dubbed as the Queen of the Streets, was someone who was initially romantically linked to him before people knew of Tricia Day, his wife. JJ said that there was nothing crazy or immoral going on between them, even if she took care of his bills, and he helped her in turn. Also, Tricia and Precious grew up as friends and remained close as adults. JJ, in his early 20s, bought and then modified a 1967 Nova, nicknamed Heifer; it was his personal car, but Tricia drove it. He built the Ole Heavy, a 1949 Chevy, and Precious was known for driving that.
On keeping them out of the radar of the police
One of the things that people were curious about was how they evaded the police. JJ didn’t outright say that they had an arrangement with law enforcement, but for as long as they kept the street races nowhere near schools, churches, hospitals, or other places that could endanger anyone, it seemed that they were pretty much left alone. They stayed out of trouble, so the police wouldn’t come after them. One of the most important rules they followed was to treat everyone with respect no matter their religion, race, status in life or gang affiliation.
On using drugs and hustling
Those who street raced were stereotyped as people who used drugs to get their adrenaline up, but JJ was quick to clear things up – during an interview, he said with conviction that a real street racer who spent $20,000 to $30,000 on his or her car would not do drugs. With money to be had in street racing, there were all kinds of hustle going on. As he arranged the bets, he was often seen counting all the money that came into his hands. He said that it was not about showing off, but more about making sure that it was the correct amount. There were times when people passed off counterfeit money, or gave him a stack of money that was short of $100, so the amount didn’t tally up to what it was supposed to be.
“Street Outlaws: Gone Girl”
Street racing was dominated by men, but it didn’t mean that there weren’t any women who were up for the challenge. In 2021, Discovery Channel launched another spin-off series, featuring the fastest female drivers in the country, such as Tricia, Precious and Chelsea from Memphis, as well as No Prep King champion Lizzy Musi. They were joined by new drivers as they headed to Las Vegas, to hustle some serious cash and street cred.
“Street Outlaws: Fastest in America”
As the street racing scene in various cities was made known to the public, fans were naturally curious about who was the best in the country. In “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America,” which premiered in 2020, eight teams competed in what was purported to be the biggest street race in history, with the prize money at $100,000. It was JJ Da Boss who put the call out, and the team left standing would then race against team Memphis; his team had an automatic spot in the finals. Tricia showed grit and skill as she faced off against Swamp Thing from New Orleans in Round One, and won by a bumper.
It was a long arduous journey for team NOLA, but things ended in favor of JJ’s team. In season two, team Memphis won again over team NOLA in the finals. Tricia gave her team a good start as she won against Todd in Round One; despite having a few issues during the burnout and with no time to fix them, her resolve to race never wavered.
Tricia and JJ Da Boss
Tricia Wayne Day said that street racing had been a family thing – ever since she could remember, she’d been around cars and racing. What excited her most, more than crossing the finish line first, was getting back to the starting line and seeing her family so happy; she’s doing this more for them than her. She and JJ have been married for over a decade, and despite the 10-year age difference between them, their relationship remains strong. They have four children together, although in all, JJ has 11 kids but there’s no information about previous relationships.
A tragic crash in 2022
The spin-off series, “Street Outlaws: America’s List,” was patterned after Oklahoma’s famous list racing, in which drivers competed to get to the top of the list. For the first season, the ‘baddest’ and the fastest in the country raced their way to the top. In season two, which premiered in 2022, no one could have foreseen what happened during the race, as Tricia and JJ battled it out on the asphalt road.
Something went wrong with JJ’s car, as it suddenly caught on fire and he lost control, hit Tricia’s car, and then rolled over it before it ended in a ditch in a relatively soft landing. As for Tricia, the impact sent her off the road, and she hit one of the production crew’s vehicles that was parked in the area. JJ was hurt too, but he got out of his car, and immediately went to her. She was screaming and seemed at a loss on what to do, as she couldn’t extricate herself from a car that was on fire. His voice could be heard saying it was going to be okay as he tried to get her to calm down; the fire was extinguished and he got her out. As she was lying on the ground with the paramedics checking her condition, she could be heard crying and moaning in pain as she said that she was hurting all over. Her and JJ were rushed to the nearest hospital.
The rest of the drivers checked out the damage to the cars, and tried to make sense of what had happened. Murder Nova, the race master, said that they could only be as safe as they could possibly be, because what they were doing was stupid enough as it was. One could only imagine how hard it was for JJ having been the one to accidentally hit his wife’s car, and cause it to crash. Then, there was also the thought that in one night, their children could have lost both of them. They both knew the risks involved in street racing, but this was something they were passionate about.
This was not the first time the couple raced against each other. In the first season of America’s List, the two went at it as they were next to each other on the list. Everyone was having fun as they joked around on who’s going to win, with Tricia and JJ saying that they would give it their all. With him driving the Hummingbird and her behind the wheel of Ziptie, she won the race and took his spot at No.8, while he went down at No.9.
Tricia came home from the hospital
JJ said that the crash was the hardest night of their lives. It was bad, but it could have been worse. He was grateful that she was alive, saying that no one was tougher than Tricia. He sustained serious burns on his face and hands, but was discharged from the hospital earlier than his wife, who had to undergo hip surgery; after a long wait, Tricia was finally back home. When the kids saw her in the car, they ran to her and gave her big hugs. JJ said that they had a tight-knit family, so it was expected that everyone was worried about her. He said that the toughest part was not having her around. Tricia couldn’t help but cry, as she said that in 15 years, this had been the first time she had been away that long from the entire family.
He recalled having a tough time telling his kids that he and their mom had been in an accident. He explained her injuries to them, and said that she would be in a wheelchair for a while. He told them that she had done so many things for them before, and this was their time to pay her back by helping her with things that she couldn’t do by herself. They had to get her healthy and back on her feet. JJ told Tricia he knew how strong and determined she was, but she had to let them do something for her.
Update on Tricia Day
She went live on Facebook in April 2022, and expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of love and support she and JJ had received throughout their ordeal. There were things that she had been blessed with that she took for granted, such as being able to walk; it scared her that she was unable to do that for a while. Her injuries were serious. She broke her hips, and the doctors had to put two screws on each side. As she was wearing her seatbelt on impact, it cut her neck and pulled a muscle. As for her recovery, her doctor told her that it would take six months before she could walk again, but after two months she was up and about. Fans were updated on her progress, as she or JJ would often go live on social media.
She’s back on the track
As soon as he was able, with his eyes still a bit swollen and his hands wrapped in a bandage, he went to the film site where the Oklahoma guys such as Ryan Martin, Daddy Dave and Murder Nova were waiting for an update on him and Tricia. He talked about the crash and said that the motor or the head gasket blew, he was getting sprayed with oil, and then it ignited. It all happened so fast so he had to gather himself and act quickly as he was being burned alive.
He called Tricia on the phone, and the guys wished her a speedy recovery, so as to come back and join them. She was in really good spirits, and as expected from someone who was passionate about racing, she said, ‘Heck yeah, y’all just make sure y’all get my car ready. Don’t take my spot.’
Getting back behind the wheel to race again was nerve-wracking for people who had been in a car crash. JJ Da Boss returned to the competition at the urging of his wife, Tricia telling him to fix Hummingbird so he could race again. His team worked hard to ensure that every part that went in it was in good condition. They even used the motor from another one of his cars named Ziptie, so it was going to be fast. He was excited to return to the racing scene, as he was doing it for Tricia. In his first race after the crash, he won against Kye Kelley.
Kye Kelley bet his shoes on JJ! 🥾🔧
JJdaBoss 🆚 Junkyard Dog
— Street Outlaws (@StreetOutlaws) January 11, 2022
Tricia was first seen in the show after the crash in a wheelchair, and gave a necklace to the winner of the race that night. As for her return to racing, it happened during JJ’s Arm Drop event in the last quarter of 2022. It was a great night for everyone, especially her friends and fans as they saw her drove Ziptie and raced as she used to, as though the crash never happened at all.
Race cars were usually constructed not just to make it faster and more powerful on the road, but also to keep the drivers safe. Viewers had witnessed drivers in “Street Outlaws” lose control of their cars and flip several times after they hit another car or a concrete barrier, but they were able to walk away, mostly with minor injuries. Tricia’s case might be different and gave everyone particularly her family a scare, but she made a full recovery and returned to street racing.