'Fast Nâ€™ Loud' star takes to TMS
FORT WORTH, Texas – As popular as things were Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway inside the facility, Richard Rawlings may have even been busier on the midway.
That's what happens when you're the star of a television show.
Rawlings, a Fort Worth native, stars on the Discovery Channel show "Fast N' Loud." The shop the show's set in — Dallas-based Gas Monkey Garage — had a booth at TMS and kept Rawlings a busy man.
That's fine with him.
"It takes a little while to get out there and get an audience," said Rawlings, 44, who was signing autographs on the same midway that featured stars from the A&E reality show, "Duck Dynasty." "I'm very happy and blessed to be where we're at. I hope it gets bigger."
The show, which focuses on Rawlings and mechanic Aaron Kaufman fixing up and attempting to sell classic cars, has been a hit. It's consistently the No. 1-rated cable program among men 25-54 in its Monday time slot.
It debuted last June and 20 episodes have aired, including the reality-show version of a cliffhanger earlier this month with the fate of a Ferrari in the balance. Rawlings said he's signed for another 27 episodes which will carry the show through next year.
The show has made celebrities out of Rawlings and Kaufman, who wasn't at TMS Saturday as he was working on the Ferrari at the Dallas shop. That's been an adjustment.
"It's different," Rawlings said. "I'm rolling with it. I've always had kind of a big personality so I don't have a problem with the crowd. It's just different. Time demands are different. I want to hang out and talk to everybody here."
That isn't the case for Rawlings anymore though. The success of the show has also made it harder for him to buy old cars. People see him coming now and inflate the prices of the cars they're selling. He also said the shop is now inundated with phone calls from people trying to sell their cars. The results have been mixed.
"It's pretty hard to find a home for a four-door Biscayne," Rawlings said.
That doesn't mean that Rawlings isn't still on the hunt though. He said the Ferrari that will debut when season two restarts has some special touches from Gas Monkey Garage. He'll also hit the road next week for New York where he's looking at two 1967 Firebirds with serial numbers 1 and 2.
The show has as much humor in it as is does car information. Rawlings drinks beer, loses money or cars, sells cars for gift certificates to restaurants and good-naturedly argues with Kaufman over the direction of the car.
"I fought for this show for about 10 years," Rawlings said. " Jesse James and Orange County did great with motorcycles and I thought that there was kind of a gap there for cars. What we're most proud about is we get to show a little bit of history of the cars and what they're all about and why Chevy developed that car or Ford did or what have you. We get to show the advances of technology even in the 50s."
Rawlings is no stranger to TMS either. The track hosts swap meets that he does shopping at and there's also a booth set up at race weekends. As for him being a racing fan?
"I'll come out there," he said. "It's my backyard. Why not? I do pay a little bit of attention. It's cool. Anything that goes fast and makes that much noise, I'm down."