The Fireball Camaro loaded up and headed east for an episode of Street Outlaws when JJ “Da Boss” called out the 405 crew to race on the asphalt-laden streets of Memphis. JJ specifically told Big Chief that this race was to be between real steel street cars – no pro mods. With the CroMod out of the lineup and more than $20,000 on the line for the 405, Ryan Martin, driver of the Fireball Camaro, was eager to power down the Fireball and represent his hometown on the blacktop.
“A lot of people don’t think of me as a street racer because I do a lot of no prep racing at the track,” said Martin, driver of the Fireball Camaro. “But the Fireball team is OG 405. We’ve been racing with the guys from Street Outlaws since “The List” started.”
Martin, the co-owner of Oklahoma City-based performance shop B & R Performance, has worked with Jackie Knox on the Sonoma and the Freakin’ Rican on the Mustang.
“We went to Memphis to prove that we can represent the 405,” said Martin. “But, we knew racing on asphalt would be a completely different game.”
We sat down with Martin to hear about his appearance on the show and find out what happened behind-the-scenes.
Q&A with Ryan Martin
How did the Fireball Camaro get on Street Outlaws?
We’ve been racing with the 405 guys for awhile. When the show decided to kick off pro mods, a few holes opened up for other cars. The Memphis callout was Fireball’s tryout.
How do the crews determine the racing lineup?
Before the races, each crew gets together in a circle to strategize. We figure out which cars and drivers match up best against the other crews, and then, both crews come together to negotiate and finalize the lineup. Dennis Bailey’s 2004 twin turbo, small tire Mustang had a drag radial tune, which is different than slicks, so the Oklahoma crew thought we were the most evenly matched. The crews wanted to see the two drag radial cars go head to head.
What did you do to prepare for the race in Memphis?
We had to give the Fireball a completely different setup to take it from the track to asphalt. We installed smaller turbos, gave it a full-link adjustment, changed the gears and applied a softer tune. Specifically, we had to take power away from the car. A few days before we left for Memphis, we made few test passes down asphalt in Oklahoma City. At that point, we were still getting a handle on the streets.
Give me a recap of the race.
We had a single race in Memphis, which means we only had one opportunity to prove ourselves. We wagered $1,000 that we could beat Bailey’s Mustang. When the light came on, I left the line soft. We pulled a lot of power out of the starts, so I was immediately behind. I ramped in most of the power in towards the end, but we just didn’t have enough room to catch him. We narrowly lost to Bailey, but an “L” is still an “L.”
Did you have any mechanical issues?
Oh, yeah. We had trouble with our tune. The tune wasn’t well calibrated for the asphalt, and the suspension was too tight, so the car led too soft. As a result, we couldn’t get enough power out of the hole.
Any lessons learned from racing on asphalt?
The next time we race on asphalt we will give the Fireball more suspension travel, raise the front to provide more weight to the back tires and let the car be more sloppy.
How is street racing different than drag racing?
It’s the same mindset. Whether you’re on the streets or the track, you focus on getting from point A to B the fastest and drive to win. The major difference is that the track is a much more controlled environment. You don’t have to worry about potholes, grooves and dirt less controlled. The street can’t handle as much power as the track, so you have to be extremely mindful of that in your tune. You can really turn it out.
Anything notable happen on the road trip to Memphis?
Right as we were pulling out of the driveway in Oklahoma, the hitch broke on our brand new trailer.The manufacturer couldn’t get us the parts for a few days, so we had to refabricate the hitch in our shop. We left 8 hours later than we wanted, and didn’t get into Memphis until well after 2 a.m. This set the tone for the whole trip.
Any final thoughts about your appearance on Street Outlaws?
Racing is what I live for, so even though we lost, a bad day behind the wheel always beats a good day in the office. We learned a lot from this race, and the Fireball is more competitive and better for this loss. We’re ready for another opportunity to prove ourselves and represent the 405 on the streets.