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“I’ve been obsessed with cars since… I was born.”

Richard Rawlings had a car by age fourteen, and had gone through nearly twenty cars by the time he was out of high school. His father worked three jobs his whole life—two to make ends meet for the family, and one to buy toys. Neither a mechanic nor a fabricator, his father took pride in his car collection. Needless to say, this stayed with Richard.

Rawlings was always working, and always chasing pipe dreams. By twenty-one, he’d been a cop, a fireman, and a medic. But he wanted more. After a rough stint of sleeping on his sister’s couch, he got his act together and entered the world of trading sales. Here he solidified his business savvy, and went on to build an advertising and printing firm from the ground up. The company grew to become a “juggernaut” in the Dallas area. A mere four years later, the company sold, and with that money Gas Monkey Garage was born.

Aaron Kaufman worked at a shop Rawlings frequented, and loved the stuff Rawlings brought in for him. Kaufman always went above and beyond for him. When Gas Monkey opened, Rawlings called him up and asked if he wanted to work for him. The premise was simple: Rawlings wanted the fastest, most expensive, most badass hot rod shop to be found, with apparel and a show on Discovery to boot. Kaufman thought he was crazy, but signed on anyway. Eight years later, the shop is all that and more, and the first season of Fast N’ Loud is underway.

They owe their success to a strict business model. They don’t buy parts—only whole models without too much rust. Owing to his business background, Rawlings has a handle on the market, and knows the price he ought to pay. In ninety days or less, the job will be done, whether they start with a decent model or a carcass. Then it’s onto the next job without hesitation. If a finished car sits too long, Rawlings will sell it at a loss. He’s interested in a killer operation, not a stockpile.

Their roles within the shop are clear. Rawlings is first and foremost an entrepreneur. He wants to sell a style, push a brand, and make sure Gas Monkey Garage never stops growing. Kaufman runs the shop, armed with his mastery of mechanics, electrics, and fabrication. The dynamic is vital, the common ground being their mutual love of classic cars. Rawlings has always been an old soul when it comes to cars, and his style has brought in a steady flow of clientele who trust his no-B.S. methods. “Any asshole can go out and buy a Ferrari.” Rawlings’ dream car? “A 1932 Ford Roadster—the holy grail of hot rods.”

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