RAISING HELL with Richard Rawlings

Richard Rawlings (black jacket) surround by his crew. Photo Courtesy: Matt Pearce
Richard Rawlings (black jacket) surround by his Monster Jam crew.
Photo Courtesy: Matt Pearce

By Matt Pearce

Local cult personality Richard Rawlings as one might expect is a busy man. Between splitting his duties for his show, Fast N’ Loud which airs on the Discovery Channel, running his famous Gas Monkey Garage, Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill and Gas Monkey Live business ventures, he also stays busy with new additions to his portfolio. The man barely has enough time to catch his breath let alone down a few cold ones. I tracked Richard down recently and with the help of his lovely assistant Christie Brimberry, he gave me a glimpse into his world and what makes him tick. Hell yeah!

The Gas Monkey empire continues to grow as evidenced by your monster truck, recently released energy drink, etc. What’s next?
I know it sounds cliché, but we really are just blessed to be where we are. We have the show, Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill, Gas Monkey Live, a monster truck, an NHRA Pro Stock car, an Indy 500 car, Gas Monkey Tequila, and the Gas Monkey Energy drink. What’s next? The next cool thing that comes our way is next! I’m not one to pass up a good opportunity for the Gas Monkey brand, so I’ve always got my eyes and ears out for where we can leave our mark next.

Speaking of monster trucks and since the recent Monster Jam was basically in our backyard, what are your thoughts on how this all came together?
Working with Feld [editor’s note: Feld Entertainment produces several live shows such as the Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey among many others] has been a great experience so far. They’re all just very passionate about what they do, and it has been incredible to see so many Gas Monkey fans come out to support our drivers! Our driver, BJ Johnson, and his crew are pretty much badass! When BJ hurt his back, Joe Sylvester filled in and gave us one hell of a show out in Arlington.

In a previous episode of Fast & Loud, you acquired a 1978 Jaguar XJS, what made that car so special to you?
My best friend Dennis and I broke the world record for the Cannonball Run back in 2007. The previous record was set in 1978 by Dave Yarborough and Dave Heinz. The ’78 Jag XJS I bought is the Jag Yarborough and Heinz drove when they broke the record. What’s crazy about that is, anyone who has ever broken that record still owns the car they were driving when they won, except for Yarborough and Heinz. It’s a piece of rally history.

Tell us more about the Gas Monkey Foundation and how our readers can help out?
I created the Gas Monkey Foundation because I’m finally in a position where I can give back to the community. A big part of creating it was that I wanted to find a way to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about six years ago, and it’s just such an awful disease and it leaves everyone feeling so helpless. This is the best way I can think to help. The Gas Monkey  Foundation benefits other local charities as well, including military and wildlife conservation charities. If anyone is interested in donating to the Gas Monkey Foundation, they can do so by donating a vehicle (car, truck, RV, boat, motorcycle), donating money or by attending one of the events we host throughout the year. More information on that can be found at gasmonkeyfoundation.org.

Doing what you do and running your various businesses, how do you stay focused? What are some of your daily challenges that you deal with?
Well, I get bored really easily, which is actually why I have so many businesses. It’s a combination of desire, hard work and ADD that got me to where I am today. Staying focused isn’t a problem at all, but giving my full attention to each one of the businesses and projects I have going on, well, that’s the challenging part. I’ve hired a really dependable, trustworthy staff to help me accomplish that part. I like to have my hand in all of it, but I know if I need to step back from one project to focus on another one, each project will be in good hands.

What would surprise our readers that’s on your phone?
A test app for a new mobile game by Zynga that will be available soon!

Favorite car movie?
The Cannonball Run!

Since you’re a car guy and if you could have any mass-produced car to be your last ride, what would it be?
Dodge Hellcat