Sean Whitley from “Street Outlaws”, better known to most viewers by his nickname ‘Farmtruck’, has in early 2023 been the target of various fan allegations, involving some that have rather disturbing implications. Some passionate viewers of “Street Outlaws” and its spin-offs have noticed Sean doing left-handed handshakes on several occasions, which prompted them to wonder what the reason for that might be.
A Reddit user by the name of nowimboredalone initiated the conversation, wondering whether anyone knows why Farmtruck does the handshake he described as ‘awkward.’ Whitley shaking people’s hands from left to right was obviously a poke in the eye of many viewers, and coupled with the dangerous nature of their profession, led some to believe that he may have suffered a life-altering injury.
A verified member of the “Street Outlaws” subreddit explained that the footage being released in January 2023 was shot in the summer of 2022, at which point Farmtruck’s finger had been badly injured by an accident he had while working on his vehicle, and not by a mishap on the race track, as opposed to what many believed at first.
In fact, Farmtruck injured his finger in an accident that took place while he was using a tire machine. The details are muddy at best, but it looks like part of it malfunctioned, causing the metal parts of the mechanism to mangle an unspecified finger on his right hand. The injury was significant, but not extreme enough at the end of the day to cause any tissue loss.
This change was noticed during one of the many “Behind The Scenes” (BTS) episodes featured on the official YouTube channel of Farmtruck and his best friend and racing buddy Jeff Bonnett, also known as ‘AZN’. The latter was fortunately present in the thread, and addressed the fans’ concerns, stating that Farmtruck ‘has PTSD with breaking [his finger] again,’ which caused him to start using his left hand for most interactions.
It’s also obvious that Sean’s right hand was still damaged at the time of the recordings, and so he naturally resorted to using the other one in order not to exacerbate his injuries. Other users also pointed out that Farmtruck has an issue with some of his facial muscles. Coupled with the strange handshakes, his drooping smile became a cause for greater concern among the viewers.
Facial drooping and issues with motion are frequent symptoms of those who’ve suffered a heart attack or stroke, leading some to assume as much. AZN was there to clarify yet again, however, stating that his best friend used to have a condition known as Bell’s Palsy, and that this bygone ailment is in no way related to his hand injury, or to a heart attack or stroke.
Bell’s Palsy – Farmtruck’s almost-beaten illness
Bell’s Palsy emerged as an enigmatic neurological condition shrouded in uncertainty, remaining as such to the present-day. Also known as acute peripheral facial palsy, this condition strikes without warning, leaving individuals with a lopsided smile and a temporary loss of muscle control on one side of the face.
The exact origins of Bell’s Palsy remain elusive, triggering debates among ‘experts’ and confusion in its sufferers. While its cause continues to be a subject of speculation, the prevailing theory points to inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve as the culprits. The former, responsible for orchestrating the delicate workings of facial expressions, experiences an inexplicable injury or malfunction, leading to the onset of paralysis or weakness.
Bell’s Palsy can affect individuals of any age, and it often emerges as a post-viral reaction. Its onset is characterized by sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, accompanied by a drooping eyebrow and mouth. The affected individuals find themselves grappling with, for example, an uncooperative eyelid that refuses to close, perpetuating the uneven facade. In Farmtruck’s case, his uneven smile tends to droop on one side.
In simpler terms, Bell’s Palsy causes temporary partial paralysis, ensnaring the facial muscles in motionlessness. The quest to unravel the mysteries of this condition has led researchers on an arduous journey, which offered a few crucial insights along the way. While the underlying cause remains a puzzle, Bell’s Palsy has been linked to viral and bacterial infections, emphasizing the intricate interplay between the immune system and inflammation.
Although its sudden arrival can be disconcerting, it’s almost never there to stay, as it often resolves on its own within a matter of weeks. Medical professionals of the modern day also bear sufficient expertise to alleviate most of the symptoms, and advanced medication goes to great lengths in helping the sufferers.
That being said, Farmtruck didn’t appear to be as lucky as most, having experienced the condition in 2011, but still suffering from intermittent facial drooping. AZN stated in the same Reddit thread that his friend’s face never fully healed, but they tended to laugh about the situation throughout its worst.
Some have theorized that the main reason for Farmtruck’s failure to completely get over Bell’s Palsy is the nature of his profession, as he is often in unclean environments, dangerously fast vehicles, and generally in large crowds before and after racing.
As a result, whatever the real cause for the condition may be, its most likely culprits, infection and injury, are a frequent side-effect of working in Farmtruck’s conditions. It’s thus believed that he would’ve made a full and complete recovery by taking an indefinite break from the business, but that’s just not who Sean Whitley is.
Some also say that he was very lucky, as the paralysis could’ve been caused by a much more sinister and debilitating illness – Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Perhaps the most famous example of that condition’s sufferer is singer Justin Bieber, while another directly spoke for The Guardian and described the life-changing symptoms.
Matt Carney suffers from permanent facial paralysis brought on by Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which is the initially dormant, infrequent side-effect of chickenpox. Unfortunately for the few who experience it, failure to treat the issue early results in changes that persist for the rest of their lives.
Prominent consultant plastic surgeon Charles Nduka suggests that both Bell’s Palsy and Ramsay Hunt syndrome should immediately be treated with antivirals, as their side-effects are quite few, while the patient is most likely to recover in a matter of days, and, most importantly, avoid permanent debilitation.
With that in mind, it’s assumed that Farmtruck should’ve undergone the same treatment procedure, in which case he might’ve fully regained control of his face. However, knowing how much he dislikes being forcibly taken away from the garage, it’s likely that he stopped caring about Bell’s Palsy the moment his doctor told him it wasn’t serious.
Fans are thus left wondering whether things could’ve been different today, had he only paid a little more attention to his health. Nonetheless, Whitley’s health seems to otherwise be in order, as the finger has most definitely healed by early summer 2023. The only issue that persists is his infrequently-drooping smile, but some would argue that just makes him even more of an iconic character.
Farmtruck and AZN, an unforgettable duo
In spite of neither of them being on the list of top 25 solo racers in the “Street Outlaws” franchise, Farmtruck and AZN hold a special place in the viewers’ hearts. This is most of all due to their unique approach to competitive racing, and undying love for vehicles that are less conventional in the practice, such as heavy-duty trucks – Farmtruck’s favorite.
Born on 29 March 1966, Whitley, now 57 years old, hails from Oklahoma, where his great affection for trucks was born. He developed a deep fascination for these powerful machines as a young boy, after riding in his father’s 1956 Ford pick-up truck. This experience ignited a spark within him, setting him on a lifelong journey of customizing and racing similar vehicles.
Whitley’s involvement in the world of street car racing was pushed to the forefront when he became a prominent cast member on Discovery Channel’s legendary “Street Outlaws.” Farmtruck’s old friend AZN was right by his side along the entire way, as they share the same dream. The duo raced a 1970 Chevy Long Bed Truck – a seemingly unassuming vehicle with a rusty exterior and a camper shell, concealing its true potential as a racing machine.
While Whitley is known for his impressive racing skills, his passion for trucks extends far beyond the fiery track. He’s renowned for his expertise in car customization and is a prominent figure in the street car racing community, revered as one of the most knowledgeable truck customizers alive. Whitley’s vehicle of choice, the Farmtruck, is equipped with a 632 cubic-inch big block Chevy motor, and his trusted mascot, Louise, a 14-year-old Blue Heeler dog, accompanies him on his racing exploits.
Whitley’s career as a car enthusiast and street car racer had already taken flight prior to gaining fame in “Street Outlaws”, which is how he became noticed and invited there in the first place. His dedication to the sport and his immense knowledge of cars earned him a reputation among fellow enthusiasts that rivals some of the fastest racers alive, even with Farmtruck not really outshining too many on the track.
Whitley and AZN soon became prominent members of the 405 crew, a group of racers known for their competitive spirit and adrenaline-fueled races. In doing so, they automatically secured a spot among some of the most respected drag racers on the planet.
While Whitley is famously private about his personal life, fans have always been curious about the man behind the Farmtruck persona. However, details about his marital status or children have remained under wraps, as race car builds are pretty much the only thing he ever talks about on or off camera.
Those with a keen ear or eye for anything related to “Street Outlaws” have long since heard about the FarmtruckandAZN YouTube channel, on which they post a variety of videos from most of the locations they visit in their day-to-day. The themes of these videos are often one-of-a-kind, such as the time when they participated in doing burnouts with a literal school bus.
Posted on 4 May 2023, the video shows the duo in a small Oklahoman town testing out various vehicles, among which is a short school bus with only four windows on either side performing a burnout that lasted well over a minute. It left two smoking black trails on the concrete, which were then exacerbated by their next burnout vehicle – a state police car.
— Farmtruck and Azn (@AZN_Farmtruck) June 9, 2023
The channel with more than 300,000 subscribers also serves to inform their numerous fans about some key questions regarding the duo, such as the interview they had with Dragzine. The first and most important question from the audience was why choose to stick with their old vehicles instead of the extreme race versions used for “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings”, which had a rather straightforward answer.
Whitley said that they stick to who they are, and part of that identity is contained in the machines they take down the track. However, the much more important why is that it’s very expensive to get all the parts they would require to challenge some of the world’s finest, as well as that maintaining such cars is a very tough job.
He clarified that what he and AZN both love doing and why they’re there in the first place is creating interesting builds, and enjoying the freedom of customization. To perfectly emphasize his point, Whitley said they ‘would rather put nitrous on a toilet than go that fast.’
Does Farmtruck actually have PTSD?
While certain media outlets didn’t think twice to quote AZN’s reddit comment and say Farmtruck actually suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, this isn’t really the case. His best friend’s words were simply a jargon-like and slightly exaggerated way of saying Farmtruck was afraid of furthering his right hand’s injury by using it before it healed.
Whitley most certainly does not have PTSD, and that can easily be concluded from taking a look at the duo’s YouTube channel, on which he displays completely ordinary behavior and continues to be his everyday self. PTSD, on the other hand, is an extremely debilitating mental condition that causes its sufferers to live in constant fear – an easily noticeable change in one’s demeanor, which certainly doesn’t apply to Farmtruck!