The television star and entrepreneur, Richard Rawlings, has many investment stakes in different businesses. Aside from being the main star of automotive reality-TV shows “Fast N’ Loud” and “Garage Rehab,” he’s also a proprietor of an auto restoration and customization shop for hot rods called Gas Monkey Garage, along with the restaurant chain Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill, and a music venue called Gas Monkey Live. He’s also launched alcoholic and energy drinks as part of his Gas Monkey business empire. Some of his craziest ideas became successful, but others have caused him to lose huge money along the way.
- 1 Richard Rawlings, the man behind Gas Monkey Garage
- 2 Gas Monkey Garage and “Fast N’ Loud”
- 3 Business expansion: Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill and Gas Monkey Live
- 4 Other businesses: Alcoholic and energy beverages
- 5 Richard’s Biggest Financial Losses
- 5.1 Financially broke twice with Gas Monkey Garage
- 5.2 Cars were auctioned less than the money spent to restore them
- 5.3 Totaled a newly restored car
- 5.4 Cancelation of “Fast N’Loud” in 2020
- 5.5 A $6 million lawsuit: Parted ways with Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill former partners
- 5.6 Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill: Counterfeit Booze Investigation
- 5.7 Gas Monkey Energy Drinks: Discontinued?
Richard Rawlings, the man behind Gas Monkey Garage
Before he accumulated millions of dollars as seen by his net worth, Richard Rawlings went through various career paths until he found what he was good at. He also had diversified investments, which helped him in building his business empire.
His growing up years, education, and family
Richard’s parents were from Fort Worth, Texas, and he was born there on 30 March 1969. They were part of the working class, and his father worked three jobs just to put food on the table, settle bills, and even buy him a toy car, which he treasured a lot while he was growing up – it was a Volkswagen Beetle pedal car, and he proudly drove it around the playground, and it was around that time that the seed of passion on anything automotive started within him. He would watch and assist his father in their garage, working on several cars; by the time he matriculated from Eastern Hills High School, he had already gone through three cars.
Former careers before putting up a garage
Richard knew from the get-go that he had a very expensive hobby, and so he followed in his father’s footsteps by taking on jobs to support it.
Before he hit the age of 21, he was already a police officer, a firefighter, and a paramedic. One of his goals was to establish his own garage, and so after saving up enough money, he confidently pursued his dream. Unfortunately, the auto shop didn’t take off, and his garage even earned a bad reputation within the community, so no one brought their cars to him. The practical side of Richard knew when to cut his losses and change the direction of his career path, so he then launched an advertising and printing company, Lincoln Press. It was successful, but he never gave up on his ultimate dream, so he sold his company.
Gas Monkey Garage and “Fast N’ Loud”
While Richard was busy making money with Lincoln Press, the idea of opening an auto shop was always in the back of his mind.
The drive to do it intensified whenever he would watch automotive reality shows on TV, and realized that there was a huge chunk of the market that hadn’t been tapped. He noticed that the women and kids in his family would stop watching when those TV shows were on, and concluded that it was mainly because there was ‘too much machismo’ in the shows. He concocted a plan to first establish an auto restoration shop, and when it was successful, he would pitch his auto restoration series idea to the TV networks.
In 2002, he opened his auto shop called Gas Monkey Garage from the money he had from selling Lincoln Press. After just a couple of years, Richard thought that he’d earned a reputation good enough to easily pitch his idea to a TV network, but the only interested people were from small cable networks.
He worked hard over the next four years, making his brand known in the automotive industry, and in 2008, TV executives came to discuss things with him, but he still couldn’t find the right people who shared his vision, and it wasn’t until 2012 that he inked a deal with Discovery Channel.
By that time, his garage was thriving with many clients. “Fast N’ Loud” made its TV debut on 12 June 2012 and the first season had 15 episodes. Just as Richard had predicted, it soon became one of the most-watched shows on the cable network, as he was able to attract women and kids to watch the series.
Business expansion: Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill and Gas Monkey Live
Due to the success of “Fast N’ Loud,” his face became one of the most recognized in the automotive restoration industry. He gained a huge following, and the businessman in him couldn’t resist the challenge of expanding his brand.
Instead of just focusing on his successful garage and TV show, he opened a restaurant and live music bar called Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill in September 2013, in Northwest Dallas. This business venture had Richard’s brand, but he had an overseer by the name of Alex Mendonsa, who had taken the role of a Managing Partner, with David Hollister who was responsible for the culinary menu. A second business was launched in March 2014, located at the International Terminal D at Fort Worth/Dallas International Airport.
By October 2014, Richard and his partners along with Peter Ore – formerly Live Nation Vice President – and the Flaherty brothers Mike and Dan, of United Commercial Realty, opened another business, Gas Monkey Live, focused on providing a venue for live music in Northwest Dallas. The place could hold around 3,000 spectators, and handle any live events.
As 2021 continues on, it seems that my buys just keep getting bigger and BIGGER!
— Richard Ray Rawlings (@RRRawlings) December 2, 2021
It was conceptualized when they saw how the restaurant was faring, and the live music area in Gas Monkey Grill N’ Bar was too small, as it could only accommodate 1,000 people. They needed a larger area and when a 38,000 sq. ft. building became available, they grabbed it. While the facility’s main focus was to provide live music and a venue for special occasions, it also offered other amenities such as pool tables, pinball machines, game rooms, and video screens along with VIP rooms. To distinguish it from the restaurant, it would only serve bar snacks instead of a full dining menu.
Other businesses: Alcoholic and energy beverages
People couldn’t help but admire Richard’s tenacity for accepting challenges and taking risks. They saw Richard as someone who believed in the proverb, ‘Strike when the iron is hot,’ as he took on one business idea after the other.
With the increasing popularity of his Gas Monkey brand, he launched a 69-proof alcoholic drink called Gas Monkey Cinnamon Tequila. It was said to be made from the finest Blue Agave or Agave Tequilana from Mexico, infused with natural cinnamon. It was a business opportunity that Richard found too difficult to resist, since he already had a venue to launch the product.
The next product he released was a drink called Gas Monkey Energy. He knew that the people at his garage worked at a fast pace, and it would help a lot if they had an energy booster available to them. However, he wanted something healthy, and so the energy drink he launched was full of Vitamin B, along with bio-energy ribose. He also made sure that it had a great taste, with three different flavors – regular, light, and tropical. Richard was aware that it was hard to break into the beverage business but he believed that he had a chance to get it out there, by making it available in the leading convenience stores in the US.
Richard’s Biggest Financial Losses
Most successful businessmen like Richard have encountered some financial losses in their lives before becoming multi-millionaires. Some of them would continue to experience it each time they took a risk in a new investment. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit many industries, even those that were believed to be quite stable but in Richard’s case he’d already lost a lot of money even when he was already on top of his game, and before the pandemic happened. Here are just some of the mistakes he’s made in his career that led to some of his biggest financial losses:
Financially broke twice with Gas Monkey Garage
Poor judgment, wrong choices, and bad luck during the early years of his Gas Monkey Garage contributed to him being financially broke a couple of times. Richard never gave specific details on how it happened, but said that those were learning years when he made bad decisions for his business.
However, he persevered because he believed that the only way out of a slump was to learn from it and work harder than ever. He did, and he came out the winner.
Cars were auctioned less than the money spent to restore them
One of the reasons why “Fast N’ Loud” was popular was that the viewers were given an insider’s look at how things progressed, starting from how Richard would hunt for the rare classic car to be restored, up to the time twhen the car look shiny and pristine. Sometimes the TV show would share with the audience what then happened with the car, depending on its new owner, but there were times that they didn’t. While the end goal of each restored car was to flip it to earn a huge profit, the return of investment on some of them was disappointing.
There was this 2005 Ford GT Custom Coupe of 800-hp that the Gas Monkey Garage team restored, which initially cost Richard close to $175,000, and when he upgraded it with more features, another $75,000 was added to its final bill. When they auctioned it at the Barrett-Jackson Auction House, he removed the reserve option to increase its possible sale. He was expecting something in the line of $500,000 but was disappointed that it only got $230,000.
The same thing happened with a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster that Richard’s team restored during the first season. He spent close to $25,000 but when they put in on the block at the Leake Car Auction in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Richard and his trusted head mechanic, Aaron Kaufman, were both quite shocked that it was sold for less than half the amount they spent on its restoration. Richard said it was good that there were no sharp objects around him at that time, because he was so frustrated that he would probably have destroyed something near him.
They should have backed out when they saw that there wasn’t a huge crowd at the event; the new owner realized how lucky he was as Richard told him that he’d got the deal of a lifetime.
Totaled a newly restored car
The second season of “Fast N’ Loud” opened with a big bang in their first episode entitled “Mashed Up Mustang.” A newly restored 1967 Ford Mustang convertible was out for a test drive when it was hit by a pickup truck that ran a red light. Unfortunately for Richard and his crew, the driver of the truck didn’t have any insurance. Most of the viewers who left comments online said that it was a miracle for them that Richard kept his cool, because most of them would have gone ballistic. He lost huge money on it, since it would undergo another repair before it was sold. However, some of the fans speculated that all of it was staged or scripted to add drama to the episode, because it was felt that everyone was acting unnaturally at that time, that is, too calm.
Cancelation of “Fast N’Loud” in 2020
When the final episode of the 16th season was aired on 8 June 2020, its loyal viewers thought it would be back for the 17th season. However, Richard dropped a bomb when he appeared in the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, and announced that the TV show was canceled. He shared that his contract with Discovery Channel ended, and he felt that he had already reached the pinnacle of success that he dreamt of, after doing it for almost a decade. He said that it was time to move on to other things. While the TV show gave Richard popularity and success for many years, the cancelation could be considered potentially a huge financial loss, since it was reported that he earned $50,000 to $75,000 per episode. The TV show aired about 165 episodes throughout the 16 seasons, so do the math, and that’s a lot of money to give up each season.
A $6 million lawsuit: Parted ways with Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill former partners
A few years ago, everything seemed to be going great for Richard and his restaurant business, until it was reported that he was sued by his former partners on behalf of Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill. People were confused as to what happened, since the restaurant and bar were making money. Apparently, the $6 million defamation case was filed because Richard allegedly tried to get out of his contract by doing underhanded things to stop the operations, as he wanted to gain control. Richard’s lawyer said that the lawsuit was just a way for his former partners to get back the Gas Monkey license, but people then realized that the restaurant was operating without a proper license, since Richard’s lawyer said that the contract had ended between his client and the plaintiff. It was settled, and Richard was no longer part of the business, but kept his brand. The restaurant and bar were rebranded with a new name – Amplified. While Richard didn’t lose in the lawsuit, he sure did lose some of his money by paying his lawyer’s huge fees.
Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill: Counterfeit Booze Investigation
Back in July 2015, the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission, or TABC conducted a sting operation on Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill. Several of their undercover operatives went to the restaurant to order several types of drinks, to see if they swapped a cheaper version of liquors to save money – TABC had received complaints from clients that they may not have been served top-quality drinks. The result was that only one drink was found to be fraudulent, so Gas Monkey Live only got a slap in the wrist and a warning. They took a hit when they were named in the news, even if they explained that the drink in question was served chilled, and so when TABC tested it in their facility in Austin, the sample was already watered down.
Gas Monkey Energy Drinks: Discontinued?
The official Facebook account of Gas Monkey Energy stopped posting in February 2020 and its official online site was down.
It's been a while since we've had a Cuda at Gas Monkey Garage but I'm pretty sure we've snagged a good one this time! How would you build this iconic muscle car?
It seemed that the production of the energy drink was discontinued, but there was no official announcement, however, since there was no news or any promotion about it, most people assumed that this was the case. It could also be due to the many manufacturing companies that suspended or halted their operations as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but losing one of his products could be another disappointment to the expected ROI.
Fans of Richard Rawlings shouldn’t be worried about his financial losses, as he still has his thriving garage, a podcast, a huge presence in social media particularly YouTube in which he continuously uploads episodes about Gas Monkey Garage vehicle customizations, and all his brand merchandise that are accessible not only on his website and other stores nationwide, but also at the different US military bases around the world.
Richard seems to have survived and prospered – let us hope so, and look forward to further episodes of one sort or another involving his businesses.