There’s no doubt that Discovery’s “Fast N’ Loud” was one of the most successful car-centered reality-TV shows from the network. That being said, besides the excellent car restorations and entertaining endeavors of its cast, one of the definitive reasons the show was so popular from its beginning can be pinpointed to Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman’s dynamic, and how everything apparently worked out well if these two teamed up.
However, the audience’s joy of seeing the fan favorite Kaufman on screen ended when he exited the show in 2017, leaving more questions than answers upon his departure.
Now that several years have passed since then, it’s time that all the questions surrounding Rawlings and Kaufman’s relationship, the reasons for his exit and their current endeavors get answers. Keep with us to know all about them!
What Happened Between Them?
Despite how much people like to know more about the off-camera endeavors of their favorite reality TV stars, the audience are actually told the entire truth very few times, of what happens behind the scenes.
When it comes to Aaron Kaufman and Richard Rawlings, we can only have an idea of what really made them drift apart professionally through their own words. As Kaufman told Art Of Gears in early 2017, one of the reasons he left Rawlings’ business Gas Monkey Garage and the show associated with it, had to do with his unconformity with the builds featured in it, and the pressure to adjust time and budget-wise to TV’s demands, on top of ‘some growing personal issues and professional differences of opinions’.
Whether those aforementioned problems were directly related to his former boss is unclear, but Rawlings himself confirmed things had been difficult prior to Kaufman’s exit: ‘he was unhappy, because he had these other ideas, and I was unhappy because he was unhappy, which was making everything else miserable’, he told D Magazine in 2018.
While there’s apparently no bad blood between the men, they haven’t publicly worked together since Kaufman’s exit from Gas Monkey Garage in 2017.
Were They Friends?
One of the most common questions when it comes to Aaron and Richard is the nature of their personal relationship prior to Aaron’s exit from the show. However, much to the dismay of diehard fans of both men, they were apparently never friends to begin with.
In a 2018 interview with D Magazine, Rawlings directly addressed this issue by saying: ‘(he) was just my employee from the time he was 20 until two years ago. Fourteen years. But we didn’t hang out outside of work’.
As Kaufman said in the same interview, he and Rawlings’s personal differences allegedly made them incompatible: ‘the deal is, I see the world very much differently than Richard does. I see how we interact with humans differently, what relationships with people are worth’.
While it might be disappointing to know that Kaufman and Rawlings weren’t ever friends despite sharing a workplace and TV screen for so many years, their personal statements regarding this topic not only shed some light on the reasons leading to Kaufman’s exit from Gas Monkey Garage, but also lets us see that taking separate ways was an expected conclusion to their acquaintanceship.
Why Did Aaron Leave?
While it’s certain that Aaron Kaufman’s resignation from Gas Monkey Garage was partially caused by interpersonal problems, the biggest reason he left was his desire for professional fulfillment.
Regarding this topic, Aaron opened up about his dissatisfaction with the projects featured in “Fast N’ Loud” in an interview with Art of Gears in early 2017. According to him, the project he worked on in the episode “Hot Off the Pantera”, was ‘the bottom end’ of the builds he wanted to work on, due to the limitations and pressure which ensued for him and his team professionally: ‘The difficulty level of the car; it surpasses what can be done on TV in time and budget’, he stated, emphasizing how adjusting to demands from producers were distancing him from his own creative path: ‘I wanted to build cars that were that big or bigger, and then TV needed cars that were much smaller than that’.
Not finding himself satisfied anymore with the route “Fast N’ Loud” projects were taking, Aaron established his own business, Arclight Fabrication, with which he provided technical service and parts for Ford trucks. Despite the fans’ disappointment at not seeing him working in Gas Monkey Garage anymore, Aaron’s then-new project was warmly welcomed by them.
The Dart is dead. Long live the Shart Cat! #gasmonkeygarage #shartcat #dodge #dart #seeyouatSEMA #semacrunch #letsgetthisdone
What Is Aaron Doing Now?
It might be a while since Aaron Kaufman set foot on a TV set, but life is looking great for him nonetheless. Nowadays, he’s quite active in the automotive world with his racing escapades. In 2022, Aaron joined Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Broadmoor, Colorado.
Being a Ford guy through and through, it’s not surprising that Aaron drove an F-100 truck, modified and usually driven by Scott Birdsall, who has been holding the competition’s time record since 2019. That being said, this was Aaron’s fourth time in the competition, having his best performance back in 2014 behind the wheel of a 1963 Ford Falcon which gained him a second place in the Exhibition Class.
While Aaron is proud of having accomplished a great deal in racing, his focus is still in the mechanics industry. Though it’s unknown if his shop Arclight Fabrication is still up and running, moving to Colorado has turned out well for Aaron, as his social media let us see he’s attracting sponsorships from brands, spends a good deal of time racing, and even made his return to Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in late 2022.
For now it’s unclear what the future has in store for Aaron, but it’s evident how pleased he currently is by walking his own path, doing the things he loves.
What Happened To Arclight Fabrication?
The initial idea for Arclight Fabrication was very clear. As he explained in a 2017 video for “The Lowlife Show” on YouTube, he and his associate Jonathan Mansour wanted to ‘fill the gap’ of available parts for Ford F-100s models from 1957 to 1979.
As seen in his show “Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman”, he made good of his promise by focusing on Ford trucks, improving their performance in order to make every project worthy of races such as Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Following the show’s end in 2018, Arclight Fabrication kept its focus on high performance projects, and as seen during an interview with Kaufmann on the YouTube channel Ford Era, the business was still up and running in late 2021.
It’s unclear if Aaron’s move to Colorado in 2022 meant the end of Arclight. Although the shop’s social media and YouTube channel remain inactive since 2020, to date Aaron hasn’t announced a business relocation or permanent closing.
Anyone who has been following Aaron Kaufman’s projects over time, knows that he’s truly passionate and dedicated to his profession., but his love for everything automotive doesn’t come out of nowhere.
According to an interview Aaron gave to Restomod Films in December 2021, his father worked on hot rods and drag cars for a long time, but eventually left the business once his children were born. Nonetheless, Aaron remembers attending car shows with his father in his early childhood, a great start for what would become his biggest passion during high school, when he used his limited knowledge modifying car parts for his personal enjoyment.
Barely in his mid-teens, Aaron joined his friend Scot McMillan Jr’s family building shop, learning there all the basics of the construction profession such as welding and lathing. Once he achieved a high ‘success rate’ with his projects, he leveled up by being hired by a local air suspension shop, ultimately leaving a couple of years down the road to start his own shop.
Who caught the Sheriff cameo in Gymkhana TEN? Rad to have Aaron Kaufman, (from Shifting Gears and previously Gas Monkey Garage) visit the set of #GymkhanaTEN when we were filming in Texas!#sherriffofshamrock #justiceofthepeace #TheGymkhanaFiles pic.twitter.com/NdGR3059gm
— Ken Block (@kblock43) December 10, 2018
Life Before TV
Although Aaron Kaufman was always inclined to become a car builder, there was a time he thought that the academic route was for him. According to an interview his friend Scot McMillan Jr gave D Magazine in 2018, he and Aaron met in high school, when their passion for automotives was the fuel to modify their first Jeep Cherokee with only self-learned skills.
Once the completion of their Cherokee took place, McMillan and Kaufman would take on other projects by themselves, and sometimes travel across the country to attend car shows. It was during these years that Aaron was hired by a suspension service shop.
College time came sooner than later, and both friends enrolled into the University of Texas, though they abandoned it after only one semester, despite doing well academically: ‘After we realized we were going to be in debt, and we already knew more than the average person, we started our own business’, as McMillan said. Their joint association soon ended though, as obtaining financial support for their business wasn’t easy, due to their young age. While McMillan eventually joined the US Marines, in the early 2000s Aaron was hired by Richard Rawlings to work on his cars, as they traveled the country together for automotive shows.
Meeting Richard Rawlings was definitely game changing for Aaron Kaufman. As he affirmed to Restomod Films, Rawlings had a clear vision of what he wanted from the beginning of their acquaintanceship: ‘He wanted to be on TV, he wanted to be famous, he wanted to have this big hot rod shop stuff. I thought it was pie in the sky’, he said.
Despite thinking Rawlings’ plan was unlikely to succeed, Aaron went on board his project, splitting his time working in Gas Monkey Garage, attending car shows all over the country, and filming a pilot for a show which never came to life. According to Aaron, Gas Monkey Garage eventually closed, and he was hired by another shop. A couple of years later, he was contacted again by Rawlings, who convinced him to film another pilot which was immediately given the green light by Discovery.
That was the start of “Fast N’ Loud”, in which Aaron appeared from its debut in 2012 to 2017, when its twelfth season aired. Later in 2018, “Shifting Gears With Aaron Kaufman” aired on Discovery for two seasons, followed by his second TV project “Aaron Needs a Job”, which premiered in 2019 but only lasted one season before Aaron left the entertainment world altogether.
Why Didn’t Aaron Want To Return To TV?
Although “Fast N’ Loud” is definitely Aaron Kaufman’s most popular TV project to date, it certainly wasn’t his first exploit in the industry. Back in 2005, he debuted in the entertainment industry in an episode of the popular hot-rod centered show “Overhaulin’”, a deed he repeated a couple of times in the following years, and appearing throughout the next decade in documentaries such as “A Tribute to David Zaslav”, “Biketacular”, and “The Gymkhana Files”.
Given all his experience in the industry, it might be surprising for his fans to know that Aaron was actually hesitant to return to TV following his exit from Gas Monkey Garage. According to his interview with Art Of Gears, Aaron was offered a new show right away after leaving “Fast N’ Loud”, but he wasn’t quite on board for a variety of reasons: ‘If I do it I want to be ecstatic about it. I want to be very proud of the program and the parts that I make’, he said, also stating that he wanted his next TV builds to be driven by ‘imagination’ and ‘excitement’ and not by money.
Though the initial premise of his “Shifting Gears” was definitely too similar to what he did in his previous project, Aaron eventually achieved his goal when the show evolved to follow his passion for high performance trucks.
What Happened to “Fast N’ Loud”?
After eight years on air and 16th seasons premiered, “Fast N’ Loud” came to an end in 2020, much to the dismay of its fans. The news were announced by Richard Rawlings in a “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast episode aired late that year, in which he explained that he’d already achieved everything he wanted with the show, and wanted to start a new chapter in his professional life: ‘it was time for me to expand and grow a little bit’, he affirmed.
While the news expectedly took the show’s fans by surprise, Richard and his team didn’t stay away from the spotlight for too long. Although Gas Monkey Garage’s account on YouTube has been active since 2012, in 2021 the channel increased their audience by producing original content centered on cars, and everything fans loved about “Fast N’ Loud”, but with a more personal and less TV-ish approach.
Although many people miss seeing Rawlings and Kaufman together on TV, the fact that both of them are doing well on their separate journeys surely brings joy to their fans.