Richard Rawlings is best known for being the star of Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud, a car restoration show where he and his shop, Gas Monkey Garage, turn old cars into spectacular machines that he can then sell for a profit. It’s one of the most popular reality shows on television, and it has made Richard Rawlings into something of a celebrity. However, what you may not know is Rawlings was already a figure in the automotive community, with an interesting story that helped contribute to his later success in no small part.
Richard Rawlings was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, where he learned his love of cars from his father, through attending auto shows and working on cars together, including the one that Rawlings bought at the age of 14. After high school, he first found work as a police officer, firefighter, and as a paramedic until he reached 21. He went through several business ventures before starting the successful advertising and printing firm Lincoln Press in 1999, where he gained local notoriety by offering motorcycles and Lamborghinis as incentives for companies who booked business with the company.
Lincoln Press became a very successful company in the Dallas area, despite the burst of the Dot-Com bubble, and it grew reasonably large. In 2004 Rawlings sold Lincoln Press, and he used the money to start Gas Monkey Garage with the vision of creating incredibly fast and expensive hot rods, building a brand that would sell merchandise and eventually end up on the Discovery Channel. Rawlings saw that the current TV line up was filled with hit shows about custom motorcycles that weren’t exactly family friendly, filled with conflict and strong language, and decided there was a space for a more family friendly version of the format. That vision was enough to convince his mechanic friend Aaron Kaufman to join on and run the shop floor while Rawlings handled the day-to-day business. Even though the Discovery Channel didn’t give them a show until 2012, the pair were able to grow Gas Monkey Garage into an successful shop, as well as an influential brand that would lead them to television.
Rawlings also gained notoriety from several other places as well. He became involved heavily with the Bullrun Rally and Gumball 3000, underground invitation-only driving tours that feature exotic cars racing each other on transcontinental road trips, making them the definition of “fast n’ loud.” The events are notorious for speeding tickets and arrests, and the cars are usually heavily modified. Rawlings has taken part in both rallies several times, and ended up winning Bullrun twice. During the 2007 Rally, he and his co-driver Dennis Collins made a $50,000 bet that they could beat the New York to Los Angeles “Cannonball Run” record that had stood since 1979. The pair ended up covering the 2,811 miles in 31 hours, 59 minutes, giving them an average speed of 87.6 mph. This record stood unbroken until very recently, and gained him recognition from Jay Leno.
After eight years of successful business and a growing reputation as a lifestyle peddler, Discovery Channel gave Rawlings a shot at a TV show. Initially, he only received six episodes, so he put everything he could into making the show a success. Needless to say, the show was a hit, growing his business tremendously and is now on its thirteenth season. Ever the entrepreneur, Rawlings used success of the show to open Gas Monkey Bar and Grill and the Gas Monkey Live concert venue in Dallas, as well as launching Gas Monkey Tequila and the Gas Monkey Energy Drink. As success grows, one thing is certain: the future is bright for Richard Rawlings, and we’re looking forward to what he does next.
All photos by: Lwp Kommunikacio