Racing Rednecks

Area residents to appear on SPEED channel's 'R U Faster Than a Redneck'
Feb. 21, 2013 @ 12:03 AM

A new show premiering Friday, Feb. 22 on the SPEED network asks the question “R U Faster Than a Redneck,” but two local car enthusiasts are part of the cast that tries to prove the answer is “No.”

Bill Howell and Yancy Johns both call this area home, and they’re both owners of the American Street Car Series, where they join other drivers in racing custom built muscle cars. So when the SPEED Network decided to make a show that pits drivers of custom built American cars — the “rednecks’ — versus drivers of custom built imports — the “punks” — Howell and Johns got calls to join the Redneck team.

“There’s an event where we do some racing called Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, and through that I got to know these producers and they knew I lived here and could gather up a group of rednecks so that’s how we got involved,” Howell said.

For these purposes, the “rednecks” are guys who are older then 35 and like to build and race American muscle cars. They’ll be pitted against drivers in imported cars; it’s a concept that was irresistible to Johns.

“Everybody’s always wanted to see American race cars versus imports and that’s what it was,” Johns said. “All of us were very excited about doing it.

The show premieres at around 10 p.m. Feb. 22, after coverage qualifying for the Camping World Truck Series in Daytona concludes for the night. It will then move to its regular time slot, at 9.m. Mondays, for the rest of its run. All eight episodes have already been filmed.

While the racing’s real — Johns gets in one of the collisions featured in the preview — he said the personalities people see on TV are a bit of an exaggeration, played up for laughs. The host is comedian John Reep, who became famous in part for his appearance in Dodge ads touting their Hemi engines as well as winning an edition of ‘Last Comic Standing.”

They don’t take the personalities they put on for the show serious, but they do take their cars and racing seriously.

“Cars have been an interest of mine since teenage years. I never outgrew the car deal so this was natural for me,” Howell said.

The bodies of the cars might look like old fashioned muscle cars, but they’ve spent a lot of time and money adding modern, high performance parts.

‘These cars are very expensive,” Johns said. “All these cars have $100,000 in them.”

Filming was completed over the course of a little more than two weeks at Carolina Sports Motor Park in Kershaw, S.C. Viewers will have to tune in to see which side came out on top; all Howell and Johns will say is they had a great time and hope people will watch.

“It was a great experience,” Johns said.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com