Many know Richard Rawlings from the famous Discovery Channel Reality Show Fast N’ Loud. The show centered on how Rawlings would acquire really bad cars, go through some of the best restoration phases to transform them and later, cash them in for a fortune. All these jobs weren't performed by him alone, however. He had a team of guys who would work in his renown Gas Monkey Garage that he started with a friend, Aaron Kaufman.
The journey to the top wasn’t easy but their hard work ultimately resulted in one of the most viewed car reality TV shows. Like other reality shows, feuds erupted within the team. Many staff changes were witnessed, as a result.
All those factors gave birth to other issues that would corrode what was one of the best gearhead shows. There was too much scripting, lies on set, and drama to increase the views. Plus, for Discovery Channel, they would use the show as a business venture. Sadly, that is the state of many reality TV shows today. Yet what stands out is that Richard Rawlings had already established himself, was wealthy, and would go on to start many businesses ventures.
On his journey to success, many issues, rumors and facts have come out about this charismatic gearhead and TV star. We take a look at the rumors – both true and fake – behind this man, Richard Rawlings.
While many people may view Richard Rawlings as a wealthy guy, which he is, many don't know about the journey he's taken to become valued at more than $15 Million. Passionate about cars since his early childhood, Rawlings teamed up with Aaron Kaufman, who would later become like a brother to him, to patch up a car and go miles and miles trying to convince the producers on their idea.
What’s more, Richard has done many odd jobs on his way to the top. He has been a cop, paramedic, he even ran a printing business. He's also battled fires and even made his mark doing deliveries. What an incredible journey!
Cannonball Run will be categorized among the different genres by the movie lovers but for the car enthusiasts, this film will be equated with speed. With heavyweights like Burt Reynolds and even a cameo appearance of Jackie Chan at some point, the film would go on to inspire some races with the intention of breaking records set in the film.
Richard Rawlings joined the bandwagon and together, alongside friend Dennis Collins, they drove from New York to Los Angeles in a record time of 31 hours and 59 minutes. The original record stood at 32 hours and 51 minutes and through this fame, they were hosted on Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which opened more doors for him.
With Richard Rawlings, his love of cars goes deep and he has had many cars pass through his hands. His cars range from vintage ones to the latest posh cars to expensive marques yet he always maintains that the cars he always wants to own was a 1932 Ford Roadster, according to Heightline, and a Lamborghini Miura.
The Roadster is one of the rarest Ford automobiles that was produced with only 12,000 units released on the market. For the Lamborghini Miura, he admires one in particular. One of the 763 units that were ever produced. This one is owned by a Florida man and he has been in regular contact to bid on the Italian marque with the highest of offers but the owner still won’t let go of it. Only time will tell if Rawlings gets ahold of this $500,000 car!
Rawlings, a car enthusiast, doesn’t get along with Jesse James, a motorcycle enthusiast. They don’t like each other – not at all. But let’s face it, Jesse James is not among the best people, nor does he have a positive fan base exactly. Perhaps then we may excuse Richard Rawlings for having beef with him.
Their beef dates back to the show Biker Build-Off where they would constantly argue on who would provide the best bike restoration. It doesn’t stop there. According to Speed Society, James moving in to Richard’s native Texas did not sit well with the car enthusiast, who’s quoted as saying ‘…he’s in Texas trying to act like a Texan.’ As if that's not enough, the beef went somehow ‘personal’ with Jesse delivering a ‘special’ package at the Gas Monkey Garage – horse manure filled on a truck! Bet you didn’t expect that!
If you ask any gearhead out there, there is always a love for the first wheels they ever cruised in. Actually, for many, they do not want to sell such assets and it is not different from Richard. For him and his buddy Aaron Kaufman, this was the car they first had their hands on and they regard it very highly. Probably, it is that sign of success and who would want to cash in such ‘good omen’?
Significant history with Gas Monkey Garage is wrapped up in this car as they would travel in it advertising their brand. It was not the fanciest, as you would expect. It was even rusty and, after the success, he had it sold only to have it back after 5 years. Such is the treasure.
To kick us off is the amount of time Richard Rawlings and his team are believed to have taken in the Gas Monkey Garage. For a finished product that people would be introduced to, much had to be done behind the scenes. Unlike many reality shows that have had their way of restorations and repairs questioned, Rawlings had his team working for more than 120 hours a week to provide the impressive marques. That's roughly 5 days.
It might seem normal to many guys but hey, this is a garage and the success of Fast N’ Loud would be measured by the output which needed intense working.
Tom Smith was a serious hyper guy. Together, with Jordan Butler, they were among the show’s cast of characters. However, they happened to be fired on the same day for a reason many would say was petty. Well, Rawlings says that he had a problem with them but to the two guys, it’s a whole different story.
Tom claims that they were fired after letting a fan with cystic fibrosis take a picture next to Rawlings’ Rolls-Royce. This didn’t sit well with the boss and he is reported to have said, ‘Get away from the car!’ Plus, according to TMZ, Smith shouted back ‘Chill out!’ and as you can imagine, no boss lets employees get away with saying that!
With the success Richard Rawlings was having, other locations would open up and one, in particular, is the fully functional garage in Harker Heights, Texas. The thing is, the building has a shady history.
It's reported that there was a massive shootout between some biker gangs that led to injuries and tragedy. This led to the Twins Peaks restaurant shutting down.
Another show that somehow resembled Fast N’ Loud was Misfit Garage. It not only featured similar services Gas Monkey Garage offered, but also had familiar faces on there too – Tom Smith and Jordan Butler. This show was what you would refer to as ‘low budget Fast N’ Loud.’
The plot was almost the same, only you couldn’t see Rawlings and Gas Monkey Garage. They tried hard enough to make us see a ‘competition’ between which garage would provide the best output. Simply put, it was about rivaling Rawlings. However, Richard Rawlings would still make some appearances on the show because – that’s right – he was a producer on the show and the garage’s landlord!
Other than the gearhead side of him, Richard Rawlings is also a family man. He has had a rough ride and tough luck when it comes to his love life, as he got divorced in 1994. He first married Karen K. Grames in 1999, later married her again, and then later got hitched to Suzanne Marie Mergele. After ten years though, the couple divorced and in an interview, according to worldation, he takes the blame and is quoted saying, ‘I’m traveling. I’m gone, and, of course, there are lots of girls out there.’
Now that you are on the know about the true rumors, how about the fake ones?
We kick off with one famous time Richard Rawlings took his viewers for a ride. All this was in a bid to probably increase views but whatever the case may be, he understood that you cannot take gearheads for a ride, except maybe literally.
He got people to believe that two Pontiac Firebirds he found in a barn were in fact the original prototypes to the original Firebird. He goes ahead to value the cars at $325,000 each. What he didn’t know is that some fans had realized these cars had been sold on eBay at $30,000 and they had been left behind, not ‘discovered.’
Every reality TV show creates drama. From the famous Kardashians to car reality TV shows. Richard Rawlings started from scratch with his Gas Monkey Garage, without a doubt. But the garage grew and you don’t have to cry foul that you are still ‘coming up.’ This was the card Richard would play. He would make people believe that they would get a car, work on it and put it up for sale so that they would be able to keep the garage alive and the money would be used to get another car and repeat.
The truth of the matter is that Rawlings has many sources of income as a result of the show: Gas Monkey Energy drink, restaurants, bars and grills and more. But anyway, anything for the views!
Like other car reality TV shows, this stunt has been pulled off a million times and they don’t seem to learn. We are introduced to Rawlings pretending to be on a call. He wants a car. They transact the business very fast on the phone and boom! It’s done! Let’s get the car! Well, let’s accept one bit of the story. Rawlings has always been known to carry cash with him because, as he puts it himself, he doesn’t know when ‘a deal will present’ itself. But to believe you can make a deal of a fancy car on a call is mind-boggling.
The fact is, the car deals are always done prior but of course, you won’t enjoy that bit. You will enjoy the bit where a person closes a million-dollar deal in a two minute phone call!
Gas Monkey Garage takes credit for the final product they put out. These craftsmen make great cars, nothing questionable such as in Pimp My Ride. However, Rawlings wants to make us believe that the people behind this success are just a handful of guys, which isn’t the case, really.
Behind the cameras, there is the ‘support staff’ that does all those amazing jobs and sadly, they never get the credit they deserve as Richard and his ‘crew’ take it all. Anyway, to deliver a car after a full restoration in one week doesn’t take four or five people, it takes more than that and that is what Richard tries to fake.
Another notion that Richard has managed to pass on is the fact that there is only one car on his Gas Monkey Garage. As shown earlier on this piece, he wants to show that he is poor. On set, you will only be shown one car being worked on. But the reality is, behind those cameras, there are more than 50 cars.
For a person with as many joints, energy drinks, cash in hand and everything else that puts him at a net worth of over $15 Million, this is pure lies and they are not one car away from closing down their business. It’s just for the cameras.
Burt Reynolds was one of the most iconic actors and had major roles in films such as Cannonball Run. Richard was a fan to the point of making a tribute video at the time of Reynold's passing. However, what strikes us is that on a certain episode, where Richard and Kaufman are on a mission to restore a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, they bump into Burt Reynolds at his mansion.
As reality TV shows would have it, they act so surprised and are star-struck but we all know this is another scripted moment. No one just bumps into such a big figure and gets all the access to him that easily.
Aaron Kaufman was one key personnel in the journey to Gas Monkey Garage’s success. He was one person who saw the rise of the show from owning a Chevy Fleetline to the levels it got to. His fanbase is strong.
Unfortunately though, in 2017, he opted to go his own way. He was a genius in the automobile industry in his own right, thus it wouldn't be a hassle to start up his own show. On Fast N’ Loud, Kaufman tells Richard that he will be leaving the show and Richard gets very hurt about this and begs him to stay. With the many prior rumors that had been going on about him leaving, Rawlings would be the last person to be shocked.
Many reality TV shows these days have been caught on the guilty side of this ‘offense.’ You are made to believe everything on set. But take a seat for this next bit of news. There are many scriptwriters for the show to bring in ratings and viewers. So, practice makes perfect.
We are introduced to regular ‘conflicts’ which ratchets up the narrative drama even more. The impromptu car deals that happen in a few minutes through a phone call, spin-offs to keep the fans guessing and many great camera angles that Ansel Adams would be proud of. Like most reality TV shows, many parts are scripted.
It's not rocket science that every company has an intention of attracting more and more customers and with Gas Monkey Garage, this has always been the case. They want to attract more customers to have their cars restored, repaired – you name it.
When the show Fast N’ Loud started, they would have Richard go out and get cars and then they would come back and work on them. It transitioned to clients coming to meet them and giving them a specific timeline on what they would want to be done, which we might understand because of the good job they would do. But as people have come to learn, the customers were selected to do this. There are no random clients as Richard wants us to believe.
Discovery Channel wanted the fans to play on their skit and make people believe that Richard was a rival to the spin-offs that came along, especially Misfit Garage. The point is, this was meant to cash in on more viewers and higher ratings as it would have played out as the perfect drama.
The drama would come from who makes top-notch jobs and in seeing how the ‘rivalry’ played out between Richard Rawlings and the fired duo (Tom Smith and Jordan Butler), who were now the owners of Misfit Garage. However, as people came to learn, Richard would stop by there. It was part of his ‘dynasty’ anyway. Well played!
Sources: Worldation.com, entrepreneur, TMZ, Greeningz.com