Some people go through life unchallenged. Richard Rawlings is not one of those people. He’s the star of Discovery Channel’s hit, Fast N’ Loud, but don’t think he got there overnight. It took years of hard work and dedication to supercharge Gas Monkey Garage into the powerhouse shop it is today. The new season of Fast N' Loud returns in March. Rawlings took some time to chat with us, here’s what the man had to say.
Interviewed by Zach Doell (@thetirekicker)
What’s going on in the shop today?
Well, we’re building an F-100 pickup truck right now, for the show. We’re different than most shows, we build about 365 days a year, take a couple weeks vacation and that’s about it.
You’ve got a Mustang GT on the show, is that you’re daily driver nowadays?
Oh, that green one? Yeah it’s one of my drivers but not daily. I usually just drive my Dodge pickup truck, but when I don’t, I try to get in the GT as much as I can. It’s a car we built about eight years ago – a ’68 Shelby.
That’s a hot car. It’s safe to say you’ve got most guys’ dream job.
Well I tell ’ya I do have a dream job, I get paid to drink beer and play with cars! [laughs]
It's going to be interesting to see if there’s people out there 20 years from now trying to restore Mitsubishi Eclipses.
Everyday has its challenges – keeping up with the business, and we are a real business, unlike a lot of the reality shows. We build all the cars. It has its challenges, but at the end of the day, it’s not a bad way to make a living.
When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
I’ve been into cars my whole life, I’ve always bought and sold a few here and there on the side, as kind of a hobby. I was fortunate to have sold a company that I built 11 years ago and decided this is what I wanted to do. It was just part of the dream of being the next Paul Sr. or Jesse James of cars. Then, BAM! It was like an 11-year overnight success.
When you and Aaron met, was it love at first beard?
Dude, he didn’t even have a beard! [laughs] Although, he grows hair like a Chia Pet. He really is one of the most intelligent mechanics I think I’ve ever run across.
Does he do anything that drives you nuts?
Be himself, he’s a total asshole most of the time. [laughs] You’re never gonna’ tell him anything, and you’re never gonna’ tell him that he’s wrong. After 11 years of trying, I just let him do whatever.
Do you see any current cars that you would customize in 30 years?
I think it’s gonna’ be a little interesting. I think that you’ll find restoration projects, but we’re in a new era and it's going to be interesting to see if there’s people out there 20 years from now trying to restore Mitsubishi Eclipses, you know?
[laugh] Probably not.
But then again, 20 years from now we might have a hard time getting metal and they’ll probably outlaw the process of chroming bumpers, so who knows.
I’d like to see them turbocharge a Prius.
I wanna take a Prius, rip all that stuff out, and drop an LS9 in it. [laughs]
I’d be in line for that. Is there anything else you’re itching to build?
I’ve always wanted to build a ’37 Lincoln Zephyr. We just got one a few days ago, so it might make it on the show. We’ve got a really cool design for a vintage desert race truck with long travel. But yeah – we’re open to anything – we don’t really pencil ourselves into any one genre.
It isn’t hard to tell that beer has sweetened the deal on a few occasions. What is Richard Rawlings’ beer of choice?
Oh, I’m Miller Lite all the way, man. [laughs] I try to keep on the straight and narrow. I can’t drink the brown stuff. Anything brown, it’s just a no-go for Richard.
I wanna take a Prius, rip all that stuff out, and drop an LS9 in it.
Goes in and comes out the same color doesn’t it?
[laughs] It turns Richard into a different person!
Anything coming up in the next episodes?
It’s kind of the muscle car holy grail, if you will. We found a 1967 Firebird – ’67 was the first year – and we found bodies #1 and #2.
That’s unheard of.
Yeah, it’s going to blow people away. You’ve got to remember these we’re actually made before the ’67 Camaro. These were cars that dealers had never seen before. To find #1 and #2 is pretty awesome.
We’re guessing this means no more Ferrari F40’s then.
You never know! We do have a supercar that we’re fixing to do. We’re gonna turn the tables on it just like we did on the Ferrari. So the next one we build is gonna blow peoples minds; ake it lower, meaner, leaner, faster, louder. All that good stuff.
Can’t wait to see that. Next time you need a project, the off-road Mazda Miata, remember where you heard it!
You know what, I’ll go tell Aaron right now. [laughs]