Jeff Bonnett, a man of an unusual profession, is one of many who have been able to turn their eccentric hobbies into careers. Jeff Bonnet is a street racer, nicknamed “AZN” on the streets of Oklahoma. He rose to fame when the Discovery Channel hired him as one of the cast of ‘Street Outlaws’ in 2013. Since then, what may have been a low profile and unremarkable lifestyle turned into a glamorous career in the public perception. Bonnett is a philosophical youth in an uncomplicated world, and it’s this dichotomy that makes him such a relatable and beloved character on the series.
Early life and family
Unlike many celebrities, Jeff Bonnett is not shy about sharing information about his early life and family. Jeff was born on August 3, 1981 in Oklahoma, USA, the second child of Denis and Matsu Bonnett, and the younger brother of Brenda Bonnett. His family has a rich history; his father served in the infamous Vietnam War and his mother is from Taiwan. Denis Bonnett was a car enthusiast who passed on his passion to his son, encouraging him and educating him to the best of his ability. Denis even lent his son enough to buy his first car, a 1964 Chevrolet II Nova, while still in high school.
He used the event as a teaching moment for his son, who committed to repaying the $2,800. Jeff related to Motorcycle trend that “He loaned me the money, and I had to pay him back each month as I would a bank.”
Jeff relied on his entrepreneurial spirit to make that money. He began working as a painter, painting addresses outside homes so they could be easily identified by the fire department, should the need ever arise. Even back then, Jeff had a passion for vehicles, spending time with his father who replaced the Chevy’s engine with a higher caliber V-8 engine.
Bonnet’s childhood was plagued with tragedy, despite his happiness and closeness to his parents.
In 1997, Matsu Bonnett died after a battle with cancer. This was tragic enough, but since Jeff was only 16, this turned out to be devastating. Jeff lost his father to a heart attack only a few years later in 2001. His only remaining family is his sister Brenda Bonnett.
Jeff has had very little formal training. His father was his first driving mentor, but it wasn’t the best student-teacher relationship and often degenerated into a lot of yelling and anguish; Bonnett admits this was probably due to his erratic driving and lack of road feel. Anyway, it was his father who introduced him to the world of driving, at least in the conventional sense.
Later, Jeff Bonnett met Sean Witleybetter known as ‘Farmtruck’, and in the wake of his father’s death, Farmtruck became somewhat of a father figure to Jeff, teaching him to drive as he does now.
Racing and Farm Truck
Jeff hasn’t revealed exactly when he started his street racing career, but he was young. He tried his luck, built a reputation with other racers, and it was when he decided to take on the king of the streets that he first met Farmtruck, which he lost, but that was the beginning of the relationship between the two .
He and Sean worked together, Jeff drove a 1966 VW Bug affectionately named ‘Dung Beetle’ that hid a 1,000 horsepower Turbo Charges Precision engine, and Farmtruck drove a 1970 C-10 Chevy pickup truck named ‘The Farm Truckwhich has a custom block engine and other secret upgrades.
“Street Bandits” and “Garage Rehab”
After being scouted by the Discovery Channel, Jeff Bonnet and Sean Whitely joined “Street banditsas a formidable team. The show explores street racing siding with illegality, and the innovation of retreading cars.
They have an interesting team dynamic, with Sean doing much of the racing while Bonnet takes care of the more technical details and lures other racers onto the road by talking and downplaying their car’s skill. His success on the show led to him starring in the 2017 spin-off “Garage Rehab,” which followed automotive experts as they traveled to spread their knowledge and help bring other garages to the forefront of the industry.
Sean and Jeff don’t just rely on their Discovery performances to put bread on the table.
The two have capitalized on their growing fame by setting up a merchandise store called FNA Firehouse, where fans can purchase everything from posters featuring images of the two to trademarked clothing. The two also own a car studio, Farmtruck and AZN Shop, which provide quality work and service.
Unlike his childhood, very little is known about Jeff’s current life. His affection for cars is still strong, Farmtruck even helped him pick up his first car which retains pride of place in his garage. He is currently single and has brushed aside the baseless rumors speculating that he was gay.
He has an old boyfriend of 15 years named Leesa Lacy who is married with a child but still maintains their close relationship.
Jeff Bonnett’s mixed ethnicity is reflected in his facial features. He has dark hair and dark eyes and although he is not thickly built, he is clearly muscular. His body statistics are unknown.
Net worth and salary
Jeff Bonnett has several sources of income – “Street Outlaws”, FNA Firehouse, Farmtruck and AZN Shop, and the payout from winning street races. He is rumored to be paid $20,000 per episode of the show, but this has not been substantiated. His current net worth is estimated to be over $350,000, as of mid 2020.