It’s virtually impossible to talk about reality shows about cars without mentioning Aaron Kaufman. His expertise as a mechanic and car fabricator were definitely a sight to behold during his time in “Fast N’ Loud” and the next shows he was in, gaining him such huge popularity that many people are still interested in what he’s doing, even though he’s been on a prolonged hiatus TV for years.
So whatever happened to Aaron Kaufman? We know his disappearance from the entertainment world is worrying, that’s why we brought to you all the details about his current life, business, his relationship with his former co-stars, and more.
Where Is He Now?
For those who were used to Aaron Kaufman’s presence on TV in the past decade, it must be strange not having seen him in any series for the last couple of years.
Nonetheless, his lack of presence in the entertainment world is nothing to worry about; much to the relief of his fans, Aaron is still very active in the automotive industry. Although his business, Arclight Fabrication hasn’t updated its social media accounts and website in a long while, Aaron’s Instagram account shows us that the shop is still up and running.
As well, in 2021 Aaron participated in several races, such as The Mint 400 and the GM Nationals, and worked as a mechanic for Checo Perez during his F1 events. While we’re not sure how well those races ended up for him, seeing him continuing his career in motorsports is thrilling.
Though it’s unfortunately harder to know what to on the personal side, recently on a rare but heartfelt Instagram post, Aaron opened up about the death of his dog Lola, who passed away in November 2020 from an aneurysm, a situation which clearly affected him.
Despite the uncertainty regarding his future on TV, Aaron’s professional and personal life seems to be going well nowadays.
Why Did He Leave Gas Monkey Garage?
There were many things we loved about “Fast N’ Loud”, but it’s undeniable that Aaron Kaufman’s presence in it was one of the biggest reasons the show was a hit. As Gas Monkey Garage’s star mechanic and builder, Aaron gained the audience’s admiration for his personality, talent and excellent work drive.
Though it’s not a wonder why the series’ fans were shocked and even heartbroken when he left in early 2017, his exit was apparently the best way to go, back then. In an interview with Art Of Gears, he stated that his sense of creativity and skills were limited during the last couple of years in the shop, confessing having hit ‘the bottom end of the type of cars I want to build’, added to the many adjustments his work went through to fit camera-time requirements. The projects’ high difficulty, rushed deadlines and small budgets were extremely challenging factors, ultimately playing a crucial role in his decision to resign.
Despite the huge international fame and recognition Aaron gained through “Fast N’ Loud”, no one can really fault him for leaving both the shop and show altogether, as his resignation was evidently the only natural conclusion to several years dealing with many unsolved issues which heavily overworked him and his crew.
Is He On Good Terms With Richard?
Anyone who has ever watched reality TV, knows that many things aren’t left to the imagination, especially when it comes to feuds and drama.
However, regardless of his many years in the entertainment world, Aaron Kaufman has never been into that type of thing, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the state of his relationship with Richard Rawlings, his former Gas Monkey Garage’s boss.
Nonetheless, by gathering together all that puzzle’s pieces, we can conclude there’s no bad blood between them nowadays, though they’re not on too-friendly terms either.
Looking back to the “Fast N’ Loud” episode showcasing Aaron’s departure, the tension was evident, especially after his confession of how ‘the last five [years] felt like 20’ while working there.
Later in an interview, Aaron admitted ‘growing personal issues and professional differences of opinions’ played a role in his resignation, but what exactly those were is still unknown. On his part, Richard addressed Aaron’s departure in a business-like fashion by telling D Magazine: ‘[he] was just my employee. (…) But we didn’t hang out outside of work’.
While the reservedness surrounding the professional break-up between both men is disappointing, the fact they weren’t seen together again since Aaron left the show, makes it safe to assume their relationship became only work-related at some point.
What Happened To Gas Monkey Garage After Aaron Left?
While Aaron Kaufman’s excellent building skills were one of Gas Monkey Garage’s biggest assets for over a decade, his exit from it didn’t result in the business’ downfall.
To this day, Richard Rawlings’ shop is still up and running, though the same can’t be said about “Fast N’ Loud”.
During an interview with the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in late 2020, Richard revealed that the show had ended after the 16th season. As explained, he had ‘kind of gotten to the top of that mountain’ of being in Discovery, sensing it was the sign to move on. From then on, Richard kept himself and the shop busy by producing content for his YouTube channel, and joining several car events and exhibitions, making it evident that the show’s possible return on a different network is an unlikely possibility for now.
Though Richard’s explanation regarding “Fast N’ Loud” end is reasonable, it hasn’t stopped people from theorising that the cancellation was due to the downfall of the show’s ratings, which are possibly connected to Aaron’s exit.
This theory might not be far-fetched, as data from the RatingGraph shows that Aaron’s departure in the 10th season’s episode “Bye Bye Beardy” was the second highest rated one in the series’ history, with 8.7 points, clearly surpassing the average ratings of the following entire seasons.
For a man as talented and cool as Aaron Kaufman is, it’s quite surprising to know that his beginnings weren’t as out of the norm as expected.
Just like many fellow stars from other car-centered TV shows, Aaron’s story with mechanics and auto-parts started when he was only a teen. As his long-time friend Scot McMillan Jr recalled during an interview with D Magazine, he and Aaron met during their second year of high school, when Aaron drove a Jeep Cherokee modified by himself.
Both hot-rod fans, Aaron and Scot soon joined forces to upgrade a cab pick-up themselves, the first of the many projects they worked on together in for the next couple of years.
However, their journey in college was a short one. By the time they enrolled in the Arlington-based University of Texas, they were already knowledgeable enough in mechanics to exhibit their rides in car shows far from home, making it apparent how much of a waste of money and time it would be to continue studying.
Before the first semester ended, Aaron and Scot dropped out with the clear intention of establishing their own business, a dream which never saw the light, since no one wanted to loan them money, and Scot eventually joined the US Marines.
Gas Monkey Garage
How exactly Aaron Kaufman met Richard Rawlings it’s unknown, but that encounter defined their professional career for years to come. Despite the 13 years age gap between them, Richard and Aaron’s partnership was instant. Together they travelled, promoting a very new Gas Monkey Garage in exhibitions and races.
At that point Richard wasn’t new to businesses, though. In 1999 he founded Lincoln Press, a company he sold in 2004 when Gas Monkey Garage, which was founded two years prior, was on the rise. Back then, the already vastly talented 20-year-old Aaron was the perfect addition to Richard’s growing business of fixing, rebuilding and selling what others thought were just pieces of junk.
Spending their days driving around the country, discovering new places, joining races and all types of automotive events was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for both: ‘we drink all the beers, wreck as much sh*t as we can, and blow on to the next town’ left them with many wonderful tales to tell, as Aaron affirmed.
His TV Debut
Unfortunately, Aaron and Richard’s good times were short-lived. Reportedly, Gas Monkey Garage closed its doors only a couple of years later.
Besides finding a new job in a local shop named 4 Wheel Parts, not working anymore for Richard opened some unexpected professional doors for Aaron.
In 2005, he debuted on TV in a couple episodes of the very popular “Overhaulin'”, though his appearances in the car-flipping show didn’t exactly make him famous.
Meanwhile, Richard worked in the healthcare industry while pitching a show based on his then-closed business to several producing companies. He found no success until 2011, when Craig Coffman from Discovery saw the potential in it, and Gas Monkey Garage was soon reopened.
Getting Aaron back into the business was vital to the primary success of “Fast N’ Loud”, and even his old friend Scot McMillan was added to that equation for the first season.
According to Coffman, producing that type of show was risky at first, but what ensured its success wasn’t its format or the work they did in there, but the dynamic between Aaron and Richard: ‘[they] were a great duo, and it worked.
The show started to get ratings right away, and that led to a lot of other car shows.
Leaving Gas Monkey Garage might have looked risky on Aaron’s part, but it’s evident he knew what he was doing. Just a couple weeks after his departure “Fast N’ Loud” episode aired in February 2017, Aaron announced that plans for his business Arclight Fabrication in Dallas were already set.
The shop wasn’t your common car-flipping business, though. Their mission was to build parts especially for Ford’s F100 from 1957 to 1979, markets which in Aaron’s opinion were undeveloped compared to the vast ones for Chevy’s and GM’s pick-ups. By mid-2018, Arclight Fabrication was a reality, growing so popular that a change of location was needed less than a year after.
Besides the obvious services Arclight Fabrication provided its customers, merchandise and apparel were also on sale on their website.
The business is still active to this day, despite the fact its website and social media have been abandoned for quite some time.
After “Fast N’ Loud”
Knowing how sudden Aaron’s departure from “Fast N’ Loud” was, no one can fault his fans for fearing that he would never come back to TV.
Fortunately, Aaron eventually returned with his own show, but doing things his way this time. As he had previously affirmed in early 2017 to Art Of Gears, if he agreed to be in another show, it had to be one he thoroughly enjoyed: ‘I want to be ecstatic about it. I want to be very proud of the program and the parts that I make’.
To everyone who ever saw Aaron working with cars, it’s pretty obvious how passionate he is about his craft. Not accepting less than what he wanted out of it, Aaron’s own show “Shifting Gears” premiered in March 2018, and was nothing like “Fast N’ Loud” used to be.
Instead of rushing to finish every project by working non-stop with days of no sleep, “Shifting Gears” was characterized for showing in deep detail the best of Aaron’s and his crew’s abilities.
Putting a big emphasis on the building of big and powerful cars, it’s clear that Aaron wanted his series to be the embodiment of his love for automobiles, for the fun of it, and not necessarily for the money.
Aaron Needs A Job
“Shifting Gears” only lasted two seasons on air before its cancellation in 2018, when Aaron went on to appear in a couple of episodes of the unscripted reality series “The Gymkhana Files”, which featured some other big names in the car and race industry such as Ken Block and Derek Dauncey.
In 2019 Aaron’s second show “Aaron Needs A Job” premiered on the Discovery channel as well, though that show was too different to whatever he did before. Taking the audience with him to travel all around the country, Aaron discovered many hidden treasures in the American automobile industry, showing the most exciting and innovative side of it.
Although “Aaron Needs a Job” wasn’t officially cancelled, any news of a possible renewal hasn’t been revealed. While this doesn’t extinguish our hopes of seeing Aaron on TV ever again, for now he seems happy with just taking care of his business, and racing career.