Mike Helmann’s untimely passing had a significant impact on the entire crew of the world-famous street racing TV series “Street Outlaws,” none of whom even remotely expected such a tragedy to occur. It’s perhaps most shocking that there were no indications whatsoever that anything was amiss regarding Helmann’s health, causing his loss to hit everyone like a sledgehammer.

The circumstances of his departure are also murky at best, which is reason for even more concern among his already devastated friends, family and fans. While it’s customary to not speak ill of the dead, Mike’s posthumous praise still manages to stand out, lending credence to the idea that he truly was loved and respected, both privately and professionally.

What exactly happened? How did he die?

Everyone who knew Helmann was dumbfounded when the “Street Outlaws” producer was found deceased in his hotel room on 11 August 2022. The authorities and medical responders were dispatched to the area, and that’s the furthest extent of public knowledge on the matter of what had actually occurred in the room.

A lot of the speculation regarding the entire ordeal was quenched in about a month following the tragedy, when it had already become apparent that there was no foul play involved, as law enforcement had reached no such conclusion.

The next logical explanation was that something had gone seriously awry within Mike’s body, and some fans began theorizing that the star could’ve been suffering from a potentially lethal condition that flared up overnight and took his life. However, no one who knew Mike had ever mentioned anything of the sort, and it seems reasonable to assume that at least one word about something so debilitating would have come out over the years.

Those who didn’t know Mike very well thought that he might’ve gone far too deep into the high life and started taking opiates, as is almost customary for a great majority of celebrities. They thus inferred that Helmann could’ve overdosed on an unspecified substance, and that his family and friends kept the reason hidden so as not to soil his public image.

In spite of this assumption having the most logical basis among the rest, there’s still no real reason to conclude from Mike’s behavior both on and off-screen that he’d been addicted to anything whatsoever. Very few thus believe in mid-2023 that the producer’s death occurred due to bad habits and an irresponsible lifestyle.

The one last thing left to suspect is that something totally out of the ordinary took place, such as a potential gas leak in the hotel or the spreading of some other toxic chemical, but nothing like that was mentioned either. As far as the public is aware, a whole year after the fact, Mike mysteriously passed away in his sleep.

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Remembered among legends

Helmann’s loss was commemorated by one of the world’s most accomplished drag racers, Mike Murillo of “Street Outlaws,” on 14 August 2022. Visibly distraught by the passing of his dear friend, the track superstar took to Facebook and shared a heartfelt post to pay his respects, prompting numerous fans to do just the same.

The publication began with a somber tone, emphasizing that any possible reason proposed for why Mike died is speculative at best, which is likely to remain a until his family decides to come forward with more information, assuming that they have any.

Murillo then spoke of how significant a role Helmann held among the series’ filming crew, explaining that the 40-year-old producer was not only an employee, but also a very dear friend to almost everyone who had regular appearances throughout the show.

The post describes him as the kind of producer who genuinely cared about the racers, treating them as if they were family, which is further emphasized by the mention of his random text messages about being excited to see the crew again, as well as his playful attempts to get the song “Watermelon Sugar” stuck in someone’s head. Such anecdotes paint a picture of a person who was deeply involved, not just professionally but emotionally, with those he worked with.

It was clear to everyone right off the bat that the racers had all actually lost someone very dear to them, as the reaction was far from that of a customary ‘rest in peace’ pleasantry commonly offered by former colleagues. Mike is especially known for his blunt honesty, which made his post all the more impactful.

James’ 15 minutes of grief

Another ultra-popular “Street Outlaws” racer took time to tell the world just what a loss he’d experienced, as James Goad of the famous Reaper SS race car posted a YouTube video on 15 August 2022 to share his thoughts on the tragedy.

The footage is almost 16 minutes long, featuring Goad sitting in his car and speaking to the camera with evident distress and sorrow. He began by emphasizing the close-knit nature of the racing community, expressing that when a racer passes away, regardless of whether they personally knew them or not, it deeply affects everyone around.

This is because of the inherent dangers associated with the sport, which is a major reason for why what they do is illegal in most US states. Goad mentioned that as he aged and as his child, Brantley, grew older, he became more aware of his mortality every time he got into a vehicle on the track. He described it as a dangerous yet passionate endeavor, driven by the love of speed, the thrill of building a car, and witnessing the results of one’s efforts.

Mike’s role as a producer was highlighted over the years through which they had worked with numerous others, in which only a few, including Helmann, stood out as exceptional. The late star’s passion wasn’t just for cars and the community, but also creating truly captivating television. He wanted to entertain and ensure that the viewers were engaged, while at the same time not sacrificing the well-being of the race crews.

James reminisced about Mike’s iconic energy and enthusiasm whose uplifting behavior had him send random messages of encouragement or share motivational videos to bring a smile to someone’s face. He also recalled how Helmann would often check in on them, showing genuine concern and offering help whenever they faced challenges with their cars.

The atmosphere at an at-the-time recent event in Tulsa was described as somber due to the tragedy, which led Goad to urge attendees to be understanding if the racers weren’t as jovial as usual. He expressed his intention to interact with fans positively regardless of the negatives, which is exactly as Mike would have wanted.

The racer also touched upon the numerous difficult challenges of producing the show, which aren’t really apparent during its consumption. Viewers see a one-hour action-packed episode, but it’s the culmination of hundreds of hours of filming.

The production team, including Mike, had the arduous task of managing all the racers, ensuring schedules were met, and producing content of the highest quality. James highlighted an instance where he faced issues with his car, at which point the production team did their best to meet his urg requirements and provide all the possible help.

Helmann was a big reason for such kind and selfless treatment by the production team, having been understanding and flexible every single day on the set, adjusting schedules to accommodate the racer’s challenges. Most of the racers are understandably very grateful for getting the help that they did, which makes the lack of Mike’s presence all the more heartbreaking to everyone involved.

A stacked tragedy

The most poignant moment Goad shared involved what took place in Las Vegas, Nevada only four days prior to Mike’s passing. After filming what the James believed to be one of the best episodes of the “Street Outlaws: Fastest In America” spin-off, he and the nearby crew received news that their beloved colleague Ryan Fellows had died on the set in an extremely violent car crash.

The tragedy, also known as the Henry Allen Generating Station Fatal Incident, occurred during the shooting of the fourth installment of the subsidiary show, close to the Henry Allen Power Plant in Clark County.

The initial seven contests proceeded without a hitch, with each racer decelerating dramatically after reaching the endpoint, stopping securely after hitting incredible velocities in their machines. In the subsequent race Ryan Fellows intended to follow suit after reaching the designated line, but his vehicle unexpectedly started to tumble.

Fellows’ enhanced golden Nissan S30-framed car Datsun 204Z, rolled multiple times on the road, ultimately landing upside down. For a fleeting second it appeared that he’d suffered just minor injuries, seemingly protected by the secure and durable driver straps inside the fortified cockpit.

The vehicle erupted into a blaze mere moments later, however, which was a consequence of severe damage being sustained by the specific compartments containing combustible substances, converting the Datsun 204Z into a blazing inferno.

The flame’s intensity prevented timely intervention even with all the emergency personnel and fire brigades immediately arriving at the scene, which led to horrendous consequences. Ryan consequently suffered extensive burns, and by the time he was retrieved, he had already succumbed to the unsustainable injuries.

The series’ most difficult month

Given that this was the inaugural fatality and significant event in the show’s near-decade run, it stirred considerable distress among the crew, prompting an immediate reaction. Subsequent investigations unveiled that the showrunners, Warner Bros. Discovery and Pilgrim Media Group, hadn’t secured the necessary filming permits due to the area not being pronounced safe, although they had clearance from the Nevada Department of Transportation to block the road for shooting.

These details stirred a massive uproar among the audience online, whose strong reactions thus hindered future production and airing of the show. In the wake of the incident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of Nevada promised to spearhead a meticulous inquiry into the incident, commencing with an in-depth analysis of the vehicular mishap.

A sizable portion of the show’s dedicated fans advocated for police intervention, but the regional law enforcement head clarified that the accident doesn’t fall under criminal jurisdiction, hence the responsibility shift to OSHA.

Although the legal ramifications for the showrunners might not be as harsh as some enthusiasts anticipate, the judicial proceedings will undoubtedly influence the show’s trajectory and potentially the professional paths of several key figures associated with the “Street Outlaws” circuits.

Mike Helmann was quick to descend into genuine grief upon hearing the shocking news, as he treated the racers as his family. Even though Ryan Fellows per se didn’t work with the producer as much as others had, like Murillo, there was tangible sorrow in the air that the producer’s closest circle testified to.

This never-before-seen turmoil was then made all the worse when Helmann passed only four days later, seemingly out of nowhere. Those close to both Ryan and Mike found it extremely difficult to get their bearings in the perfect storm of public outcry and private lamentation, which led some to believe that the series as a whole might come to an end.

A legacy to maintain

“Street Outlaws” is still going strongly even after everything that happened, as the show’s production crews and participants found the inner strength to jump over all of the legal hurdles, and get right back into the action after a period of grieving for Ryan and Mike.

There are still questions to be answered regarding both the Las Vegas crash and Helmann’s abrupt passing, but fans will have to settle for the knowledge that both of the late stars would have wanted the action to continue for many more years to come.

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