It’s late afternoon, and Nate Sayler is driving two hours through Montana to pick up a truck for his wholesale business. He’ll then have to return two hours back home before beginning to pack for his 5:50 a.m. flight to North Carolina the following morning. From there, it’s another hour drive to Galot Motorsports Park, where he and his team will immediately set up their pit area. Such is the “luxurious” life of a Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings driver.
“I cannot explain to you how worn out I am,” Sayler says. “When I go to bed at night, I don’t even remember putting my head on the pillow. This NPK is a whole other three jobs in one.”
Not that Sayler is complaining. He’s getting to live out his dream, competing against a group of drivers he’s watched on television for the past 13 years. The dream began turning into reality after he met Jay Boddie, a Street Outlaws and NPK veteran, at the Street Car Super Nationals in Las Vegas.
“He was really cool,” recalls Sayler. “It reiterated that these guys are not just weirdos on TV. They’re normal people. So I went to one of the NPK races, and it kind of sank in that I should be doing this.”
Sayler quickly got in contact with Larry Jeffers Race Cars to put together a 1967 Chevy Nova with a Pro Line Racing Hemi and ProCharger, purpose-built specifically for No Prep Kings. From there, it was simply a matter of getting on the show.
“We originally started last year in the Futures class,” Sayler says. “We went to Norwalk and won, then went to Steele, Alabama, and we won there. A couple of the other drivers said, ‘Hey, you really ought to try and do this.’ At that point, I knew we had a hot rod.”
Sayler arrived at National Trail Raceway for the beginning of the 2023 season, still unsure whether he’d be running in the Futures class again, or get drafted to a team for the Invitational. To his surprise, he was taken in the first round – fourth overall pick – by Boddie. After that, it was simply a matter of getting acclimated to lining up against stars he’d been following for over a decade.
“The first three races, I was so starstruck seeing guys like Kye Kelley and Ryan Martin in the other lane,” says Sayler, laughing. “I was so nervous, I just couldn’t get over it. Those first three races I sucked ass. I could not get out of my own way, no matter what I did.
“The fourth race, I finally had a meeting with all my crew guys,” continues Sayler. “I said, ‘I’m sorry. I’ve been screwing the pooch, and I’m going to get my shit together.’ And that race, things started changing. We started going rounds, and I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.”
Going rounds might be an understatement. In the past four events, Sayler has two $40,000 Invitational wins, as well as a Great 8 victory and runner-up. After being traded to Ryan Martin’s team a couple races ago, his performance has helped vault them into second place for the Team Championship, 35 points behind Team Kye Kelley. He is also third in the Great 8, trailing Kelley by just 15 points for the Individual Championship.
“I have gone to the finals a bunch lately,” Sayler says. “My tuner’s got a hold of this car, my crew is getting a handle on maintaining it, and I’m getting her in her groove. We’re going to ride that train as long as we can.”
Despite the success he’s found in his rookie season – he’s already won more events than many drivers who have competed in the series for years – Sayler admits his accomplishments still haven’t completely sunk in.
“Honestly, I’m still kind of beside myself,” says Sayler. “The competition is insane. Everybody is on top of their game. I knew we had a fast car, but these guys have been doing this for so long. And I’m a guy that feels like I’m not anything special. I’m just doing what I’m doing. I feel like it’s not even real.”
Sayler is also quick to point out that his success stems from a support system of family and friends that allows him to do what he loves. Still driving on that Montana highway, he gets emotional just talking about it.
“My sister comes to every race with me,” Sayler says. “My crew gives up all their time with their families to help me chase my dream. It’s unreal. You wouldn’t think people would do that, that they’d want you to succeed so badly they’re willing to sacrifice with you. If I didn’t have them, I couldn’t do any of this. It’s not me – it’s all of the people behind me.”
That sacrifice also makes it difficult to say for sure where he goes from here. No Prep Kings is currently nearing the end of a brutal schedule that features events in eight consecutive weekends. As much as Sayler loves participating in the series, he admits its grueling nature may not be sustainable for him to continue long-term. He has other goals, including the Jr. Dragster he’s currently building with his five-year-old daughter.
“Depending on what the schedule looks like for NPK, I would love to do it,” says Sayler. “But I also can’t watch my daughter grow up from a phone. I have to see my kiddo, and I have a business to run. I wouldn’t have anything to come home to if I didn’t. If they are nicer about the schedule next year, I would love to keep doing what we’re doing, because I think we’re rocking the boat a little bit.”
Outside the realm of No Prep Kings, Sayler has another dream he wants to fulfill that may surprise some of his fans. It involves building a completely different car than what he currently drives, but he appears up for the challenge.
“There’s only one other thing I want to do, and that’s the World Series of Pro Mod,” claims Sayler. “I’m not kidding when I tell you I was glued to the TV watching it. It was badass. I think I’m a decent enough driver that if I go and have the right crew behind me, I would be able to qualify and do some damage. It’s now a bucket list item I want to do.”
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