We spend time with one of the stars of Street Outlaws and talk…life, liberty and the pursuit of horsepower.
PREFACE: A little back story about this interview..we got Joes phone number from our friends at the Muscle Cars at the Strip because we knew both Joe and Cars Illustrated would be at the event – and without notice and just a quick text Joe was on the phone with us and was as nice a guy you could ever talk to about everything from the show to his car…
Cars Illustrated: talking to none other than Joe Woods, the Dominator. From the famed show “Street Outlaws”. Joe, how are you today?
Dominator: I’m doing good. How are you?
Cars Illustrated: You know what, like I said, it’s a good day. There’s drag strips out there waiting for guys like you and me to make a pass.
Dominator: That’s a fact.
Cars Illustrated: With the “Street Outlaws” and the success we have to know, where does a guy who is a welder in a drilling company and grows up around cars ends up on a TV show. Can you tell us about how that came together?
Dominator: Sure, there used to be a website. It was called Midwest Streetcars and if you were no joke and you had a fast car and you weren’t a complete jerk, then you got special privileges and you had an invite only section to the website. That is where all of the communication took place as far as who was racing who on the top ten list when and where. And, I just happened to rent the track one afternoon to test my car and it was the same afternoon that Chief and Shawn were testing their cars and two days later, I had an invite only on my screen, and I clicked on it and there was a message saying that there was a shake up going on on the list on Saturday night, and if I wanted to be apart of it – get serious about the top 10 list – to show up, and I did. And, it blew up from there.
Cars Illustrated: Let’s talk about the weapon of choice. A lot of people seem to want to rag on the fact that you’ve got a Chevy big block, a tall deck, 632 stuffed in a Mopar. But let’s talk about the weapon of choice, what you got cookin’ under the hood? You were spraying the car pretty heavily but the rumor is there is a change?
Dominator: Well, actually, I’m in the process as we speak – I just made some changes. First, let’s back up. I already owned the 632 when I got the car. The car was already set up for a big block Chevy and you know it really deeply offends the true Mopar purist, but like I’ve told everyone of them, it is quite simply a front motor plate and a set of headers from being every Mopar guys’ dreams. So, I’m not excluding the fact that it needs Dodge in it. I just happened to have the Chevy and I have history with this car. I have pictures of this car from 1988 when it was a small tire car. A guy built it for his wife. And that was at the local track in Arkansan City, Kansas. The car, I can take you all the way from where the car was originally built to where it’s at today. So as far as the 632 goes it had two stages of nitrous on it up until about a month ago. And we made a big change and we went to twin turbos and methanol. In fact, right now I’m in the middle of a little bit of clearance work to put a set of aluminum rods in it and we are going to a minor rotating assembly to try and get some strain off of this thing. The 632, it’s a Brodix block. It’s a Brodix Big Chief heads, Crower crankshaft, CP-Corilla rods and pistons and Crower cam and lifters. It’s truly nothing special. It’s anything that anybody can buy. The heads don’t have any massive extensive port work done on them. It’s just parts and they work.
Cars Illustrated: Just a good straight up, no-nonsense package…
Dominator: It’s just a reliable motor. You know the Mopar guys they bash me about the big block Chevy. Here’s the honest truth man, the first time I put this motor in the car, I didn’t take it out of it for three and half years. All I did was change the oil, run the valves down and throw plugs in it. I didn’t touch the motor.
Cars Illustrated: Well, that would be speaking a lot to assembling the motor and putting it together. Reliability has a lot to do with it, man. You don’t have to have the biggest, baddest of everything. What you want is something that goes down the track, goes straight and is fast.
Dominator: You know, you are right. And when you get to the budget minded people, I’m not a guy that can just write a check for $60K. So I’ve got to use what I’ve got. In fact, up until six months ago, my old motor, it was – the block and the crank were from 1990!
Cars Illustrated: Wow.
Dominator: I mean, when I took the crank to get the tolerances checked, they could not believe how old the crankshaft was. So you know, it doesn’t have to be all top-of-the-line and it doesn’t have to be brand new. It’s just got to work, you know and, it’s the attention to detail, truly. I’m not going to tell you that I don’t have a plan to put a big Mopar in it, because I do. It’s just a financial situation and I’ve made my progressive steps. My goal is obviously what everyone wants to see. It is a twin turbo Hemi. Will it happen? I don’t know. I hope so, we’ll see. I’ve talked to a company that builds a very aggressive twin-plug predator headed motor, he buys solid bare castings and does what he wants with them, and they’re making some really big power. So, it may not end up with a Hemi, but a Hemi would be really easy. You know, valve covers, spark plugs are on the top. So you aren’t reaching down between a set of hot headers trying to get some spark plugs out.
Cars Illustrated: That would be nice.
Cars Illustrated: Oh yeah. I mean that’s what is kind of great about guys like you – nobody has that magical Scrooge McDuck room filled with gold coins that you can just go write a check here and a check there and get everything you want. I think people need to realize that as you rise from someone who loves to run cars at the track to being someone who is now on TV and certainly is very gracious about your fame and you are gaining a lot of popularity, but it’s just being that regular guy that, you know. Maybe sometimes people need to realize that there isn’t some giant, you know, armored car coming up everyday and dropping off your bags of money.
Dominator: Yeah. It’s not that way at all. Up until three years ago, my car was still on an open trailer. In fact, I still have my open trailer just in case I have to sell my enclosed trailer because I get into a pinch. My enclosed trailer is nothing special. It doesn’t have fancy cabinets in it. There’s no bright aluminum tin work on the inside of it. It’s a wood floor, wood sides, you know – it’s a $5k trailer. It’s not a $28K trailer. I’m getting by just like everyone else. If I had that room full of gold coins, I would own two twin turbos. If I broke one, I’d just pluck it out and drop the other one in it and not worry about how fast I had to get the other one running. I mean, I’m not going to lie, if I had money, it would be really easy. Honestly, I mean, you pull a motor, you don’t worry about taking it apart, you drop the other one in it, you go racing, you come home then you tear the other one apart. Or, you just take it to a machine shop and say fix it, you know.
Cars Illustrated: Yeah.
Dominator: But we are not all blessed in that matter, so…
Cars Illustrated: Oh, we know, most of us are all in that same boat…
Dominator: Yeah, I understand. When I broke the Dana ’60 in my car and it would break a ring and pinion once a year and finally the last time it was done for, it broke the carrier cap as well. So it was literally cheaper for me to buy all the pieces and build my own 9” housing and assemble that 9” than it was to fix the Dana, and it took me nine months and my car was set on the jack stands nine months waiting. So, you know sometimes it just happens like that…
Cars Illustrated: Let’s talk about the popularity of quote on quote “street racing” and the way that you guys all that are a part of “Street Outlaws” have really, in a very cool way have really brought grass roots and no prep and whatever you want to call it – you have brought drag racing back to the real people. Sure, Top Fuel would be fun, but nobody has millions of dollars.
Cars Illustrated: But it has got to be great to be part of this new movement to where regular people realize that you can go out and go racing and have fun and if you have the money to buy a car and build a car, that’s great, but you can go out and have fun. What would you say to somebody that would say “Wow man, I can’t believe this has taken off so well – taken off around the country – what would you say to that?
Dominator: Well, first I’m going to agree with them. You know, when production first started, when they first approached us, uh, I was pretty sure we were going to go to jail. I honestly thought it was an undercover sting, and we were walking right into a big trap. I want to stress first and foremost that there is something that they don’t show on the show and that’s when – when we are doing a cash days or when we have a list shake up and all ten cars are involved and there’s no cameras around, there are 15-20 people involved that have nothing to do with racing. They are strictly blocking roads making sure that no one is coming. You know, we don’t do this out on the highway. It’s backing up back out of people’s sight and out of people’s mind. Where, if we are going to get hurt, it is quite simply just us getting hurt, not innocent bystanders. You know, I see a lot of stuff on TV where – or on the news where people are getting out and they’re street racing and they’re losing control of their cars and people are dying and that’s – it’s a serious deal. I have my opinion about the people and incidents and, you know, the manslaughter charges and all that kind of stuff, but most people won’t agree. If people are going to get involved and people are going to do this, you need to be cautious and you need to be aware. If you are at the starting line and you had ground rules and no one is supposed to be out in front of you guys and you see people out there 80-100 feet, turn your car off, get out of your car, refuse to make the pass until those people get out of the way. You are just as much – have just as much ability to stop the race at that point in time as “Well, they’re there. I didn’t put them there. That’s a serious aspect of you gotta be aware of your surroundings and putting other people in harm.
Cars Illustrated: I couldn’t agree with you more. If you are at a race, it doesn’t matter what kind of motor sports – I think people just lose sight of the fact that you gotta be safe. And, we appreciate that answer. Just because it is over seconds, doesn’t mean that it isn’t serious.
Dominator: Yeah, that’s a fact. You know, it has brought back the old school style racing. The grass roots that you were talking about earlier. I have honestly – I have never stopped doing it. I mean, I was 14-years-old the first time I was making passes at the track and I got caught. So, I mean it’s just always been there, you know. But the being aware of your surroundings and being willing to not make a pass until people get out of the way, that’s a big deal for me.
Cars Illustrated: Now upcoming you and Cars Illustrated are going to be at the “Muscle Cars at the Strip” coming up. It’s going to be an exciting time. Maybe you could tell us what are you looking forward to doing out there at Las Vegas and the Strip, besides – we are gonna have to gamble, we are gonna have to do a little rockin’ and rollin’ with the guys at the hotel, but what are you looking forward to at the “Muscle Cars at the Strip” this year?
Dominator: You know what, I’m looking forward to all of it. I grew up going out there– when I was in my early teens, it was the mid ‘80s and, you know, the “Street Machine Nationals” and stuff like that was really heavy. Thousands of cars cruising up and down the street at night. All of that stopped because people got a little out of hand with the burnouts and stuff in a massive crowd. But, I grew up in that. I was the punk kid before I had a driver’s license that was throwing water out on the street trying to keep people to stop doing burnouts. I’m not going to lie. I was that guy. And, I want that. You know, when we started – when we first started the show, when it took off after the first season, I realized we have an opportunity to embed cars in people again. And, my main goal other than drag racing or having a good time is I want the guys that have the ’70 Cuda or the ’70 Dart that was a pro streetcar that has been in a corner with the rugs and the carpets and the Christmas boxes and stuff on top of it, I want those guys to have enough desire from seeing us do what we do take all that stuff off their cars, drain the fuel out of it, clean the fuel system, bleed the brakes and get that thing back out on the street. You know, that’s how I grew up with the car seen being really heavy and it died and it didn’t completely die, but it faded away. And I really – I’m looking forward to being involved in a big event where cars are everywhere and the cruising is heavy and the racing is heavy and the hanging out in the motel parking lots at night until 4 and 5, 6 o’clock in the morning. When you got two options, you can go to bed or you can go eat some breakfast. And, you don’t want to miss anything so, that’s exactly what you do. You go get as much breakfast and as much sugar as you can get and you try and stay up throughout the next day. You crash on Monday when it’s all over.
Cars Illustrated: [Laughing] Something about sleeping when you are dead, right?
Dominator: Mm-hmmm. Mm-hmmm.
Cars Illustrated: There ya go. Well, hey man, I really appreciate the time. If people want information, go to dominator405racing.com. You can check him out on Facebook. Joe, thank you so much for coming on and spending a little time with us, man. I really appreciate it.
Dominator: Absolutely. I cannot wait. This weekend is going to be a blast.