Gas Monkey Garage founder Richard Rawlings, star of the Discovery Channel's reality show "Fast N' Loud,” developed a passion for cars and motorcycles where he grew up, in Dallas-Fort Worth.
When he initially approached the Discovery Channel about the idea for "Fast N' Loud," they were skeptical; could a car really be restored and flipped in a few short weeks? Seven hit seasons later, Rawlings and the show’s co-star, Aaron Kaufman, are still up for the challenge as they progress to bigger and better builds, and Dallas' Gas Monkey Garage is becoming a lifestyle brand. WhereTraveler caught up with Rawlings to talk about what to expect from “Fast N’ Loud” this season, and his favorite places to go when he’s not on the road or in the Garage.
What's going on in the latest season of "Fast N' Loud"? The new season is really cool—we're upping our game with each build getting better and better and we're having a bit more fun. We've also teamed up with Hot Wheels this season.
How would you describe DFW? What do you love about it? I tell everyone I've been just about everywhere—and if I had to pick somewhere to live it'd be Dallas. If we had a beach, no one would ever leave!
Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill is also an outdoor music venue, is down the road from a Gas Monkey indoor venue. Is it safe to say you're a big fan of live music? Oh yeah. I grew up in the 1980's, so I'm into loud rock and roll: Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe. At both places, we try to cover the full gamut and bring a little bit of everything, so we can reach every crowd.
You have a new cinnamon tequila out, right? The tequila has taken off like a rocketship. It’s available in 36 states and it’s been very well received. I developed it personally; I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. It was in the business plan to be where I am right now – building Gas Monkey into a lifestyle brand. Everything we do goes back to our core values of what Gas Monkey is all about: Having a good time and enjoying life.
What else is new or upcoming with the Gas Monkey brand? We have more books coming out. There’s a book about where Richard came from. It’s not just about Gas Monkey and “Fast N’ Loud” — it’s more autobiographical. There’s also a recipe book coming out, and the restaurants are expanding like crazy.
Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill is in Dallas as well as at DFW Airport. Are there plans to expand the chain elsewhere? We’re going into Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut Fort Hood/Harker Heights in Texas, Key West on Duval Street, Las Vegas, Cancun—all those are happening now. With “Fast N’ Loud” airing in 220 countries and over 30 languages, we can sustain where there are vacation spots because the show has been so popular.
Where do you like to eat and go out when you're in town? My first choice is of course Gas Monkey, but I enjoy the vibe at The Rustic. I live downtown, so I'll go out around McKinney Avenue and Uptown. Mi Cocina in Highland Park is my go-to for sustenance—I go maybe 20 times a month.) I checked out a new place called Sidebar and had a good time; I also like Pakpao, Meddlesome Moth, Neighborhood Services and of course, Katy Trail Ice House. But overall, I don't have a place I frequent in Dallas because there's always something new popping up.
Describe some of your favorite memories or best moments you’ve had in Dallas-Fort Worth. Having built Lincoln Press in Dallas from the ground up. [The company] is one of the few that survived economy and is now one of the larger print and advertising facilities in Dallas. Building that enabled me to do this dream of mine called Gas Monkey. Seeing Klyde Warren Park (something I thought of 20 years ago and would like to think I came up with the idea) go up was really cool. The activity spreading to the Design District is really fascinating, and will add an element to Dallas we’ve been sorely lacking. Hopefully with everything going on, I intend on living out my years here and watching the city grow, because so much is happening and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Where do you like to go on vacation? Scottsdale, Ariz., which I visit quite a bit (it's very similar to Dallas); and anywhere there's a good beach—Destin, Fl., or Santa Monica, Calif.