Aaron Kaufman and Richard Rawlings have vastly different skill sets and personalities but yet they coalesce to make one of the most entertaining shows on TV, Fast N’ Loud, and the most amazing restores and customizations out of their Gas Monkey Garage.
Fast N’ Loud airs on Discovery Channel Mondays at 9PM
We live in a time when most of the people who watch Food Network don’t have a mandolin and a good deal of people who watch The Bachelor are married (also we’d venture to say a large swath of porn watchers don’t have a safe word). Television needs to be entertaining but it can also be educational, even if the use isn’t directly practical. I’ll admit it, I’m not a mechanical person, my ride is a subway train, and I’m happy to have not owned a car in over a decade but Fast N’ Loud is an automatic DVR for me. The Discovery show follows Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman of Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, TX, as they find, restore and flip incredible rides. Rawlings is a business savant, from the deals to the marketing of the garage and himself he could be the other Mark Cuban of Texas. Kaufman is more of an artist—he is the mechanical and design genius who is more responsible for the product. Together they each add a different element into the alchemy that turns rust buckets into gold.
Again, I don’t really know what a ratchet is (both in the tool box and in hip-hop slang), but there is a non-mechanic takeaway from Fast N’ Loud, and that is it takes a collaboration of two types of people to be successful in a subjective business. Think about the tattoo artists you know who are virtuosos but they can’t keep their business ledgers straight or they don’t have the sense to market themselves correctly, I bet they aren’t wildly flourishing. Kaufman without Rawlings or Rawlings without Kaufman would be as successful as the reboot of The Odd Couple—which should have been cancelled by the time this magazine went to the printer.
“Well, without being incredibly negative,” Kaufman says of Rawlings, “I don’t think the gentleman knows the difference between a bus driver and a screwdriver—let alone where to place it on the car. But with that being said, I don’t have the global ambition that Richard does to take over the planet. I want to do an outstanding job and have an outlet for creativity, for curiosity. I enjoy building things and Richard, he enjoys building a business. I don’t feel like Richard is on this trip to produce art or express himself, but that is fine because it gives me an outlet to do what I want. We both have different tricks.”
“As I was growing up, my dad worked three jobs just to put food on the table and I didn’t want to grow up like that,” Rawlings says. “At a young age I had already been a police officer and a medic. The one time I saw my dad cry was when I left civil service because he thought I had it made, that I could retire and get my gold watch, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I quit.”
As he was finding his life’s destination, Rawlings headed out west and did another thing that made his father recoil. “He hated it when I put on the old stick ‘em tattoos from Cracker Jacks,” Rawlings recalls. But when he returned to Texas he had a tribal tattoo. “He freaked out, but then got over it and the tattoos kept rolling. There was probably a time there that I was into the tribal, but definitely not anymore. Right now I am tattooing a gilded frame around it like you would see a piece of art at a museum, with a circa 1989 plate.”
Kaufman came to the game later. “I have always been a fan of tattoos but the problem is that they cost money,” he says. “I have always been interested in buying tools or motorcycle and car parts so I don’t have a whole lot of money. Sam Chamberlain at Death or Glory, he is a big hot rodder, and he did work on me for car parts or stories.”
The quintessential gear head tattoo is on Kaufman’s palm and it is the four-speed backwards so that it matches the top of the shifter. “For me I love feeling the RPM, the vibration in the stick, you don’t even have to look at your tachometer because you can feel what the gears are doing,” he says of the tattoo Chamberlain had to hold him down to complete.
While he might be the moneyman Rawlings is a madman behind the wheel, winning the Gumball 3000, Bull Run and Cannonball Run—during which he broke the record set in 1979 as he barreled from NYC to LA in 31 hours and 59 minutes, averaging 87.6 mph. “I was thinking that if that record stood for five years I should get a tattoo of it,” he says. “It is my favorite, 3159 on my forearm. That was a hell of an accomplishment.”
“Boy, are you currently seated?” Kaufman asks when the pitchfork-arrow on his arm is mentioned. Sit. “We get a lot of fan mail. We get this one letter that is many pages, it is by Rick D—- out of Canada. The first sentence right off to the races: explicit sexual abuse in the woods, things that have happened to him, his mother’s boyfriend—this is a grown man writing about his past. It transitions into these diagrams: we should make a high-compression race motor which looks like a peanut butter jar; the Pentagon with swastiskas inside of it; a clear cue ball with a laser stick so you could line-up your shot; playing cards with two suits…. The last one, number 15 said, ‘zero tapiture, point break, pitchfork arrow.’ I was so enthralled by the whole letter. I get to the last line and I have never seen a movie that ended so abruptly or in a wonderful way as this letter. It terrified us. The letter came from a nuthouse in Canada. We looked him up, he is on LinkedIn so he works there. It was kind of a joke, whenever we were getting butt-nutty or loose we would just say ‘pitchfork arrow.’ I thought I would either have to own it or get run over by it.”
Aaron Kaufman and Richard Rawlings have vastly different skill sets and personalities but yet they coalesce to make one of the most entertaining shows on TV, Fast N’ Loud, and the most amazing restores and customizations […]