LONG BEACH -- It will be real-life "The Fast and the Furious" -- NOLA-style -- when the Discovery Channel's latest reality show "Street Outlaws: New Orleans" airs Monday. Long Beach-native Shane Lester is among its cast, as are Shannon Poole and David Wright of Jackson County.
Lester, who owns Precision Paint and Body and Precision Drag Racing in Long Beach, said he was just a kid when he discovered his love for adrenaline, and the art of illegal street racing.
"I've loved it since I was a young teenager" he said. "I like the adrenaline rush -- some people sky dive and some people do drugs. I race cars."
Lester filmed Season 1 of the show in September and October. The show taped eight episodes that will begin airing at 8 p.m. Monday. It is a spin-off of the popular "Street Outlaws," on which Lester has made an appearance.
A need for speed
Lester said he bought his first hot rod, a 1988 Mustang, when he was a teenager.
"My dad tried to talk me out of it, but I bought it and restored it and sold it and bought another car. I've gone through about 70 cars since then," he said.
Lester is now driving a 2003 Mustang Cobra Turbo called Da Hellion and a 1965 Chevy II/Nova known as Prime Evil.
Both cars will be featured on the show.
Night time's the right time
Illegal street racing became popular in the 1950s. Its mainstream popularity spiked with the release of the 2009 film "The Fast and the Furious."
Lester said he does most of his racing in the middle of the night in and around New Orleans.
"We normally only run an eighth of a mile," he said. "When you get telephone poles and ditches and culverts involved, that is plenty enough."
He said he isn't worried about the show breaking his anonymity with law enforcement officials.
"I think they all know we do it," he said. "Some of them are actually into it and like it. We do it in a spot where you aren't going to run into people or traffic. You get in and get out -- you don't stay out there all night."
When asked if cash prizes are awarded in street racing, Lester said yes.
"But I'm not making more than I spend on my cars," he added.
Lester's wife, Natalie, is proud of her husband -- her face glows and she smiles when discussing his racing career.
She said she is excited about the show's debut.
"It's been a lot," she said. "I think it's wonderful for a guy from the Coast to be on the Discovery Channel. My husband has always done this, and I know it's illegal but he has always had fun doing it."
She said although her husband has many years of experience, she still finds herself getting nervous when she knows he is racing.
"I worry about him all the time," she said. "I'm also tough on him. If he loses a race, he gets an earful on the drive home."
The big premiere
Lester will be hosting a show premiere party Monday at Twin Peaks in D'Iberville starting at 5 p.m.
He said he has not seen the show.
"I have no idea what it's going to look like once it's edited," he said. "I'm a regular, nice guy that would do anything for anybody. But I don't know how they are going to make me look."
Lester said he will have both cars available for viewing at the premiere party.
Although there hasn't been any talk of a second season, Lester said he is optimistic.
"We'll just have to see how this season goes," he said. "I hope there's another one."