Brent Self is widely regarded as the most dominant small tire driver in no prep over the past two seasons. Piloting a 2002 Chevy Camaro, Self has claimed numerous victories at Winter Meltdown, Redemption, Dirty South No Prep, and Reaper’s All-Star No Prep, amongst others. The success has garnered him invitations into other special shows, such as Fastest in America and Mega Cash Days.
“We ran 12 events in 2019, and we won nine of them,” Self says. “For 2020, I didn’t want to strip the car down. You don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. We started out winning. We dominated. Pulling up at a race track and knowing you’re the small tire guy that everybody’s looking to beat, it feels good.”
But behind the accolades is a man who is as humble as he is successful. Growing up on a cotton farm, Self learned early the value of hard work and persevering through hard times, carrying on the family business. Self currently harvests 2,300 acres of corn and soybeans in Louisiana.
When he’s not on the farm, Self can be found in his shop, constantly looking for ways to improve his racing program. His Camaro, nicknamed “Selfish,” sports a Kuntz & Co. 540ci Big Block Chevy, F3-136R ProCharger, Santhuff front struts, Afco rear shocks, Neal Chance converter, and Haltech ECU.
“It’s all good stuff, but nothing that you can’t buy from the everyday guy,” Self says. “It’s nothing special. It’s just a combination that works.”
In an effort to stay ahead of the competition, Self formed the Black Sheep Mafia, a group of friends – and small tire heavy hitters – like Adam Plunkett, David Gates, and Russell Stone.
“Everywhere we’d go, it was all four of us, and we’d all help one another,” says Self. “We’d go to races, and everybody would ask, ‘What’s the name of y’all’s team?’ We’d say, ‘We ain’t no team, we’re just a bunch of buddies.’ That’s one thing about Black Sheep Mafia. We may have to race each other this round, but whoever wins, the other one will be standing behind his car the next pass rooting him on. That’s been huge for all of us.”
After a few members of Black Sheep Mafia joined Kye Kelley on Team NOLA for season 1 of Street Outlaws: Fastest in America, Self was invited to lead his own group in season 2. It was a situation that appeared to cause drama between Self and Kelley on television, but Self says it was simply a matter of honoring the commitment he made to his fellow BSM members.
“I’ve always been raised that a person is only as good as their word,” Self says. “I wasn’t backing out on those guys. They (New Orleans) got mad, but it is what it is. I went with a group of guys that I race with every weekend. We all cook out, have parties together. It’s not like we’re only friends when the TV cameras are on. We’re together all the time, and I couldn’t be happier with the group. Every team member supports the others, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s been good to all of us.”
The invitation would test Self’s skills in leading a team for the first time against some of the best street racers in the country. Known for their no prep skills on small tires, the team had to switch over to large slicks to get down the Wyoming road where filming would take place. For a car as dominant on small tires as Self’s, it was not a decision to take lightly.
“When I first decided we were going to street race the car on big tires, I called Jody (Hadley) first and told him what I was going to do. He said, ‘Your car is flawless right now on small tires. You better write down every measurement, and put it back exact.’ So I’ve done that. Before I change my car over, every single time, I set it on the scales and make sure we’re exactly where we were when I started. I have everything right there, and I know exactly what goes where, and I swap it right back.”
Despite an initial learning curve, Self and the rest of BSM proved they were up to the task, making it to the final round against New Orleans and a shot at Memphis and $100,000. While they ended up losing the matchup, the team proved they belonged among street racing’s elite, and did so with integrity.
“I told my guys, ‘We can go up there and act like jackasses, and get on camera. Or you can win with pride, lose with pride, treat everyone with respect, and that’s gonna carry you further than being the loud, obnoxious one,’” Self states. “Since the show aired, it’s unbelievable the response I’ve gotten from people all over the United States. I can talk like a sailor, but I also know how to carry myself. I don’t have to do that to get attention. I’m gonna let my car get the attention for me.
“Going out with these guys, it wasn’t like I was in control of them,” Self adds. “I told every one of them, ‘I’m going to place the cars wherever I think is best for the team. And if your car’s not fast enough, I don’t want you to be mad at me. It’s a team race.’ I made the list myself and told them who would run where, and they all backed me 100%. I was very proud of how we did. New Orleans beating us 8-1, everyone thinks that was kind of a slap in the face, but it’s really not. For us to be able to be in the final round was an accomplishment. We wasn’t expected to get out of first round. Season 3, we’re going for it. I already requested in to Pilgrim.”
Despite his stretch of recent success, Self continues to look for ways to improve the car’s performance. That doesn’t mean any drastic changes will be taking place, though. Sticking to his “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” mantra, Self will make smaller adjustments like putting in a 3-speed transmission for this season. Fans can also expect to see a new wrap on the car in the near future. What that means for the competition is that they’ll still be dealing with one of the best in the game, and have to bring their absolute best any time Self is on the property.
“Anybody can be beat on any given day, but there ain’t one racer out there that dedicates as much time to it as I do to try to find a way to go faster every single pass,” says Self. “Looking at the schedule for 2021, all the big money races are coming back. And I’m going to have my car ready for them. I plan on winning them. I told my sponsors what I have planned, and every single one of them is on board. We just gotta get the fan base back up and people out of the house to support it. Without the fans, you don’t have nothing.”