Brandon Smith, known for his appearance in the reality series “Street Outlaws: New Orleans,” had a humble start in the world of street racing. His rise to fame began when he joined the cast of the Discovery Channel’s drag race series in 2016, a spin-off from the well-acclaimed series “Street Outlaws”, which debuted in 2013.
Just as outlined in the description of the first episode of the series, from 23 February 2016, it was initially difficult to even form a stable group of racers who would make up the show, as a lot of disagreements and former rivalries created significant friction in the New Orleans drag racing community.
It all started when Kye Kelley, a champion street racer, set himself on a mission to unite the city’s rag-tag group of racers into a formidable team. Armed with his fearsome ’92 Camaro, Kye had returned to the Bayou with the aim of defending his title, and assembling the fastest racers in the southeast. However, his newfound status as the victor had put a target on his back, and he had to adapt quickly to life at the top.
The first challenge Kye faced was getting the small-tire racers of New Orleans to all come under one roof. In spite of his impressive winning streak, Kelley found it almost impossible to leverage his status and obtain sufficient respect.
These racers, known for their ruthlessness and speed, were hesitant to compete for spots on a top-five list. The idea of a hierarchical ranking system was met with resistance, as it threatened to disrupt the camaraderie and free spirit of the racing community. However, Kye believed that this structure would bring out the best in the competitors, and elevate the city’s street racing scene to new heights.
While Kelley was dealing with internal resistance, an outside challenge presented itself when David Bird Jones, a big-tire racer from Houston, called out the champion. Known for his aggressive racing style and powerful vehicle, David posed a significant threat to Kye and his ’92 Camaro. This call-out wasn‘t just directed at Kye, but the entire New Orleans racing community. It was a test of their unity, skill, and the strength of their newly formed team.
As Kye did his utmost to retain respect, he realized that building a team in the Big Easy was anything but that. The stakes were high, the battles bigger, and the smack talk harsher than ever. The city’s racing scene was transformed into a typical reality TV drama, with every race serving as a clash of egos, engines, and ultimately, the racers’ determination.
Just as the ranks got given out to individual racers following the board formation process, the name of a certain Brandon Smith rang out through the competition. He was hungry for fame and notoriety, challenging Bobby Ducote’s Ford Maverick nicknamed Lil’ Legend for the #1 spot before he could even get a chance to rest.
Everyone be sure not to miss tonight's episode of Street Outlaw's!!!! It gets a little rowdy with these Memphis guys!!!!
It became evident right off the bat that Smith wasn’t in it for participation trophies. It was all or nothing for this brand-new name in the industry, who had only been an obscure casual racer up until then, with no aspirations great enough to be recognized by his colleagues. He was there to prove everyone wrong, and speed his way to the top in spectacular fashion, which was shown as early as the second episode of the show, on 1 March 2016.
That said, it looks like the Discovery Channel didn’t bother much to renew the series after its second installment, leading those who quickly fell in love with the title to remain riddled with unanswered questions. One of the absolute favorites was certainly Brandon Smith, who seems to have fallen back into obscurity after the conclusion of the second season.
The ace up his sleeve
Brandon’s claim to the champion’s seat was greatly assisted by the fusion of sheer determination to be the best and rather unique upgrades to a formidable vehicle. His 2001 Ford Mustang is named LS Kilr, and there’s a story to tell behind that seemingly ordinary name.
In the world of motorsports, LS stands for ‘luxury sport,’ meaning that a car with that nickname is likely to contain a very special variety of General Motors engines created for luxury sports vehicles. These upgrades usually make the car slide down the track much more smoothly, providing the many advantages necessary for speed face-offs.
The LS swap begins with the removal of the car’s original engine, followed by the installation of its LS counterpart, which is a compact unit that fits neatly into the Mustang’s engine bay. However, aside from being a good physical fit for the car, the LS engine poses many more challenges than initially observable.
The stock fuel injection system of the Mustang is not compatible with the LS engine, necessitating the use of a custom-made harness for wires, as well as a computer or standalone control system for aftermarket fuel injection. This, along with modifications to the fuel plumbing and pump, can significantly increase the cost of the exchange.
The Mustang’s transmission will not bolt up to an LS engine without a custom adapter, so a GM transmission that fits in the intended tunnel is required. Custom LS motor mounts or a swapped K-member that accepts an LS engine needed as well, further increasing the cost of the build.
The LS engine swap also affects the Mustang’s exhaust system, as its stock version will not work with the upgrade, requiring the purchase of expensive swap headers or the fabrication of a custom set of them.
The procedure also requires metric-to-SAE adapter fittings that would allow the LS engine to properly interface with the stock gauges, which can be avoided by installing an aftermarket dash and stock sensors, although this is an additional expense.
Altogether, the LS swap is popular and still relied upon due to the potential performance improvements, regardless of the total price. The LS engine is known for its smooth, linear power delivery and rev-happy nature, making the driver feel like they’re in a film from “The Fast & Furious” franchise. These characteristics, in Brandon’s case combined with the right setup, can transform a Mustang into a rather enjoyable street carver.
That notwithstanding, it’s also worthy of mention that while the LS engine swap can provide performance benefits, it can also have drawbacks. These include potential issues with emissions compliance, the need for custom work on the fuel system and drivetrain, and the potential for decreased resale value due to the modification, as some buyers are fond of stock builds and don’t want to provide the vehicle with the extra attention that it requires.
So, what really is the LS Kilr?
Brandon’s LS Kilr was originally equipped with a small block Ford single turbo engine, known for its compact size and high power output, which makes for a popular choice among performance enthusiasts. The turbocharger, a device that forces more air into the combustion chamber, allows the engine to produce more power than it could naturally.
The Mustang also came with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, which originally developed by General Motors, is renowned for its simplicity and durability. Its two-speed design is ideal for racing because it reduces the time and power loss that can occur during gear changes.
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However, Brandon didn’t stop there. He also updated the rear end of the Mustang with a Burkhart Chassis, which most definitely improved the car’s handling and stability, especially at high speeds, by optimizing the suspension geometry and reducing weight. This gave him greater speed on the race track, as well as nearly unquestionable control of the vehicle at all times.
Brandon ultimately also installed Ross pistons, which are a critical component of the engine, responsible for transferring the force from its combustion to the crankshaft to create motion. Ross pistons are high-performance parts especially designed for the purpose of withstanding the intense pressures and temperatures of racing conditions.
One by one, costing a small fortune at a time, these upgrades transformed LS Kilr from a standard Mustang into a formidable racing machine. Each modification was carefully chosen to enhance a specific aspect of the car’s performance, demonstrating Brandon’s deep understanding of automotive engineering and his commitment to achieving the highest possible level of performance on the race track.
Finally, the name of LS Kilr itself has a double meaning, as it is meant to both be a luxury sport ‘killer’ on the track, as well as ‘kill off’ any luxury sport competitors opposite its axles. Those familiar with Brandon’s work on the car and the name’s significance normally make sure not to underestimate him, which only further contributes to his popularity in the world of drag racing.
A useful past
Prior to entering the spotlight for the first time, Smith spent most of his adolescent and adult life working as a welder. This profession has been particularly useful in managing the upkeep of his Ford Mustang, as the upgrades often come with a hefty price tag.
His understanding of metalwork and structural integrity allowed him to make modifications to the vehicle that were both efficient and cost-effective. He could personally handle tasks that other racers might need to outsource, such as reinforcing the car’s frame or modifying the exhaust system. This not only saved him money but also provided a deeper understanding of his vehicle’s capabilities and limitations.
Brandon’s welding background also played a role in his approach to the racing scene as a whole. Just as his former profession requires precision, patience, and a steady hand, so too does racing, especially on a straight track where lives can be changed within seconds. Brandon applied the same meticulous attention to detail and focus to his driving that he did to his previous occupation, making him a formidable competitor on the track.
So, where is he now?
There’s a reason that many have been wondering what exactly happened to Brandon Smith after 2017’s conclusion of the second season of “Street Outlaws: New Orleans”. To all intents and purposes, the racer seems to be a rather private individual, with only an unattended Facebook page to speak of.
It never seemed as though he got into the racing world for the sake of wowing anyone at home, but simply the sheer enjoyment of competing against the very best in his area of interest. No interviews have been published with the small-time reality TV star, and up until this point, no reputable sources have bothered to deliver an articulate story about him.
With just one look at Brandon’s only source of social media presence, it becomes apparent that he either hasn’t been racing much, or simply didn’t bother to update his fans about the off-camera goings-on.
His most recent Facebook video was uploaded on 8 May 2019, entitled “We’ve been down for a while and haven’t got to race like I wanted to but we back now and with only about 6 passes on the it the old hot rod is looking promising!!!”. It features the well-known LS Kilr on a brand-new adventure down the race track, assumedly somewhere in New Orleans.
The car revs very loudly before speeding off into the night, and with no opponent riding beside him, it looks like Smith was hard at work testing the fresh upgrades to his vehicle. What happened throughout the rest of the year remains unknown, as his only update after that was a simple Facebook bio change, stating ‘Brandon Smith’s small tire street/track raced turbo mustang’ on 22 April 2020.
A family man
It appears that Brandon has been intentionally keeping a very low profile since his last appearance on TV in 2017, and there’s a very good potential reason for this. He’s been married to a certain Brandi Smith since 3 June 2005, and they’ve since had a son named Bryson Smith.
Family life looks to be much more important to the racer, as he’s most likely busy raising his child and tending to obligations as the head of the household. Going back into show business would unavoidably mean spending less time with his family, which seems to be a sacrifice Smith isn’t prepared for.
They live together at Brandon’s residence, in his birthplace of Louisiana USA. His net worth has been estimated at more than $250,000, following the series of appearances in the popular spin-off show, allowing a life of relative comfort for his loved ones. It is also expected that he makes extra cash by racing off camera now and then, which is likely to remain his main source of income until he graces the TV screen again.