Richard Rawlings likes people "who come to work every day, get their hands dirty and work hard."
Richard Rawlings is tired of answering that question.
“It’s not that I hate it,” he says, “but after all my time in this business, people should know what my first car was.”
In case you don’t know about Rawlings or his first car, here’s a cheat sheet. He was a firefighter, a police officer and a paramedic before he built a printing and advertising company, which he then sold to fund his dream job: running a hot rod shop.
Rawlings has been involved in all things auto-related since he launched Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas in 2002. He’s franchised the brand into four unscripted series on Discovery: Fast N’ Loud, Misfit Garage, Garage Rehab and Fast N’ Loud: Demolition Theater. In addition, he has a chain of Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill establishments, a tequila brand, an energy drink and an apparel line.
So what fuels this dynamo? For starters, he loves rescuing derelict automobiles. “Finding something that’s been forgotten — that no one ever expected to see again — and bringing it back to life feels pretty amazing.”
As badass as his brand may be, Rawlings credits family for his drive. “I’m a guy with a goatee, a bunch of tattoos and some jewelry, but I’ve got a wife and kids, and I like that my TV shows feature people who come to work every day, get their hands dirty and work hard.”
Childhood memories help keep his pedal to the metal. “Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, and the thing I remember most is my dad riding motorcycles on our street, barbecuing and hanging out with our family. There was a lot of laughter. My goal is to recreate that for people.”
Rawlings’s father taught him the importance of working hard at something you love. “Most of my life, my dad worked a bunch of different jobs to make ends meet. He said, ‘Don’t ever do it like I did. Get a good education, a good job and stay there.’ It’s because of him that I work so hard to keep all of this going.” Though he’s always on the hunt for his dream car (a 1969 Lamborghini Miura), Rawlings still fondly remembers that aforementioned first automobile.
“It was a green ’74 Mercury Comet, and all the kids at school made fun of me,” he recalls. “Except for the kids who didn’t have a car.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 3, 2018