Richard Rawlings is more than happy to help in his new series, Garage Rehab. He's compelled.
"What really sparked my interest on creating this show was I've been in that position before," he says. "And I went broke a few times while trying to get Gas Monkey going and get it off the ground."
His new show for Discovery Channel aims to help shop owners avoid some of the same pitfalls he faced when opening his now world-renowned auto shop. In the show, the Fort Worth native takes over some struggling shops with the help of designer Chris Stephens and project manager Russell J. Holmes.
Rawlings and the crew stayed close to home for the first shop on their summer itinerary: Grapevine Automotive.
He took a few minutes to chat ahead of the season premieres of Garage Rehab (Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 9 p.m.) and Fast N' Loud (Monday, Sept. 5, at 7).
You're busy. Do you have time to fit in something besides cars?
I kinda thrive on the chaos which is my life. I have a good time when I can, but work is what I enjoy the most.
What made you want to take on another series?
I've been very, very fortunate and very blessed to have had the success that I've had. And it just seemed like a really cool idea when I came up with it to be able to go out and help other people who have been in the same spot that I've been in and hopefully get them turned around and pointed in the right direction. I guess the human nature part of it is what really sparks me the most.
What's the mistake you see the most?
Mostly, they let themselves get bogged down in the minutiae. It starts going bad so they wake up bad. They wake up feeling bad about it. They can't get themselves motivated. They let it all gang up on them. And it's like they can't dig out of their own black hole.
You're very hands-on.
Oh, I thought you said handsome. [Laughs]
That, too. From the clip I saw of the show, you're very hands-on about everything in remaking these garages. Are you also hands-on in choosing the ones you take on?
I am. I get to see the audition tapes they send in. I'm very hands-on in picking the right ones. You gotta make sure you're not getting lied to, so to speak. You gotta make sure there's a genuine concern, and that they're not just trying to get some free stuff or be on TV or what have you. So I actually pick the shop along with the producers in LA and we try to make the best effort to find the one that can benefit the most from the help.
What's your favorite thing about this new venture?
Realistically, my favorite thing really is going out and seeing the different problems that people have in different geographical areas. Not just from a standpoint of the area that they may be in or the city they may be in but the different kind of car culture or motorcycle culture there is. Things that are very popular here in Dallas, Texas, aren't the popular thing in, say, Jackson, Miss., or Nashville. So it's really interesting to me to see the fact that while the car culture is this one big giant thing, it has so many offshoots that it's really amazing.
You have contributed to expanding car culture beyond the core group of people that's always been interested in it. How do you feel about your role in that?
I'm humbled and blessed by it. It is a very, very cool thing and it's really neat to be a part of it. And I hope to expand on that. I've got a show that I'm working on that's gonna involve the younger generation, the kids that are still in high school, and I'm really excited about that, too. So if that happens, I'm gonna be pretty ecstatic. But to be a part of the growth that is happening now and to acknowledge the transfer that's happening with the younger audience is really cool. And that was one thing that I sought out with Gas Monkey from the very beginning.
You know that I'm gonna have to ask you about that show you're working on.
Can't talk about it. [LOLing] But yeah, I love being involved with the kids any way I can.
What's the most surprising thing about this show, something that caught you unaware, flat-footed even?
The amount of stuff that car guys collect. It was just overwhelming. I mean, they're borderline hoarders. They think, 'Ohmigosh, I'll use this bolt one day. I'll use this thing one day and I gotta put it on the shelf to save it.' I was a fireman very early on in my life and a police officer, so I'm very militaristic, clean. If I don't need it, it goes away... And these guys and gals are the exact opposite. They keep everything! There are literally the shops where you'll see us pulling 10 and 15 and 20 dump trucks full of junk out to make room in the shop.
What's the least surprising thing?
The least surprising ... I don't even know how to answer that. I mean, we know what we're walking into when we walk in there but I guess the fact that they don't really even understand the workings of the business. You'd be surprised at some of these ... I was actually already aware that when they get in that spot, they just quit keeping books, you know? They just give up on it.