Richard Rawlings, a native of Fort Worth Texas, followed in his dad’s footsteps and developed a passion for cars from an early age, building cars and attending car shows with him. The earliest photograph of Richard, aside from his infant years, is of him sitting in a Volkswagen Beetle pedal car. His dad worked two and three jobs at a time so he could afford to have his one toy — a car or motorcycle he could call his own. Richard bought his first car when he was 14 years old: a green ’74 Mercury Comet. By the time he hit his senior year in high school, he was already on his third car, a ’77 Bandit Trans Am. Richard says he has always worked just so he could have cars. He even took a bullet in the early ’90s as he fought off a carjacker who was trying to steal his ’65 Mustang 2+2 Fastback.
Richard has held several jobs to feed his car habit. He was a firefighter, police officer and paramedic all before he was 21 years old. He eventually left those jobs to start his own business, building a printing and advertising company from the ground up. He later sold it so he could fund his next venture: Gas Monkey Garage — a world-renowned hot rod shop that has produced and shipped cars for people around the world.
A veteran of transcontinental road rallies, Richard has won the Gumball 3000 and the Bullrun — twice. He is the current world record holder in the Cannonball Run and was even recognized by Jay Leno for this achievement, having broken the record that stood since 1979. He covered the 2,811 miles from New York to Los Angeles in 31 hours and 59 minutes with an average speed of 87.6 miles per hour.
Richard says: “Bottom line, if we’re gonna have fun, it better have a motor!”
Aaron Kaufman, originally from Crowley, Texas, is a self-taught mechanic, fabricator and all-around hot rodder. He grew up taking things apart and putting them back together — he just didn’t put them back together the same way they came apart. His high aptitude for mechanics and passion for cars led him to the hot rod world. But he didn’t want to just be good at what he did. He wanted to be the best at it. And that passion is what has driven him to succeed.
Richard met Aaron when Aaron was working at a local car shop. Richard went in and said he needed someone to air ride his ’53 Ford Mainline and asked for their top guy to do it. They gave it to Aaron. Years later, when Richard opened Gas Monkey Garage, he remembered Aaron and the pride he took in his work. Richard found Aaron and asked him to join him in his next venture.
When tackling a car restoration project, Aaron’s strategy is surprisingly simple: it has to be completely cohesive, from the front end to the back end to the interior. Every piece has to make sense. And as a project evolves, so does his vision.
As for his favorite car of all time, while a ’32 roadster ranks as one of his top picks, his all-time favorite is an AC Cobra. “They’re a driver’s car and it’s just an absolute beast.”