A man with an unusual profession, Jeff Bonnett is one of the many who have been enabled to turn their eccentric hobbies into a career. Jeff Bonnet is a street racer, referred to as ‘AZN’ on the Oklahoma streets. He rocketed to fame when Discovery Channel enlisted him as one of the cast of “Street Outlaws” in 2013. Ever since then, what may have been an unostentatious and inconspicuous lifestyle metamorphosed into a glamourized career in public perception. Bonnett is a philosophical youth in a straightforward world, and it is this dichotomy that makes him such a relatable and loved character in the series.
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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 3 August 1981, in Oklahoma, USA, the second child of Denis and Matsu Bonnett, and younger brother of Brenda Bonnett. His family has a rich history; his father served in the notorious Vietnam war, and his mother comes 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 Chevrolet II Nova 1964, while he was still in high school.
He utilized the event as a learning opportunity for his son, who committed to pay back the $2,800. Jeff related to Motortrend that “He loaned me the money, and I had to pay him back every single month like I would a bank.”
Jeff relied on his entrepreneurial spirit to earn that money. He began working as a painter, painting addresses outside of houses so that they could be easily identified by the fire department should it ever be necessary. Even then, Jeff already had a passion for vehicles, and spent time with his father replacing the Chevy’s engine with a higher caliber V-8 engine.
Bonnet’s youth was plagued with tragedy, despite his happiness and closeness to his parents.
In 1997, Matsu Bonnett died after a battle with cancer. This was already tragic enough, but as Jeff was only 16, this proved to be devastating. Jeff lost his father only a few years later in 2001 to a heart attack. His only remaining family is his sister Brenda Bonnett.
Jeff has undergone very little formal training. His father was his first driving mentor, but it wasn’t the best of student-teacher relationships, and often degenerated into a lot of shouting and angst; Bonnett admits that this was probably due to his erratic driving and lack of road sense. Regardless, it was his father who introduced him into the world of driving, at least in the conventional sense.
Later, Jeff Bonnett met Sean Whitely, better known as ‘Farmtruck’, and in the wake of his father’s death, Farmtruck became somewhat of a father figure to Jeff, and taught him to drive the way he does today.
Racing and Farmtruck
Jeff has not disclosed exactly when he began his career in street racing, but he was young. He tried his luck, building up a reputation amongst 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 partnered up, Jeff driving a 1966 VW Bug, affectionately named ‘Dung Beetle’, hiding a 1,000 HP Turbo Charges Precision engine, and Farmtruck driving a 1970 C-10 Chevy pickup truck, called ‘The Farmtruck’ which has a custom-built block engine and other secret upgrades.
“Street Outlaws” and “Garage Rehab”
After being scouted by Discovery Channel, Jeff Bonnet and Sean Whitely joined “Street Outlaws” as a formidable team. The show explores street racing that errs on the side of illegality, and the innovation of revamping cars.
They have an interesting team dynamic, with Sean doing much of the racing while Bonnet takes care of the more technical details, and baits other racers onto the road by smack-talking and underplaying the proficiency of their car. 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 do not rely solely on their Discovery appearances to put bread on the table.
The two have capitalized on their growing fame by setting up a merchandise store called FNA Firehouse, which allows fans to purchase anything from posters depicting the two, to trade-marked clothing. The two also own an automotive studio, Farmtruck and AZN Shop, which provides quality work and service.
In contrast to his youth, very little is known about Jeff’s current life. His affection for cars still runs strong, Farmtruck even assisting him in retrieving his first car which retains a place of honor in his garage. He is currently single, and has dismissed the unsubstantiated rumors that speculated that he was gay.
He has one long time friend of 15 years, named Leesa Lacy, who is married with a child but still maintains their close relationship.
Jeff Bonnett’s mixed ethnicity is evident in his features. He has dark hair and eyes and while he is not of a bulky build, he is clearly muscular. His body statistics are unknown.
Net Worth and Salary
Jeff Bonnett has various sources of income – “Street Outlaws”, FNA Firehouse, Farmtruck and AZN Shop, and the pay-off from winning street races. He is rumored to receive $20,000 per episode of the show, but this unsubstantiated. His current net worth is estimated at over $350,000, as of mid-2020.