Who is Jason Aker?

Born on 6th January1974, in Oklahoma, Jason Aker is known for his appearances on the Discovery Channel show “Fast N’ Loud”. A skilled restoration expert with a happy-go-lucky personality, Jason married Apryl Aker in 1995, and they have two children, Savanna and Brett.

“Fast N’ Loud”

Filmed in Dallas, Texas, the reality TV show “Fast N’ Loud” featured Richard Rawlings and his trusty crew at the Gas Monkey Garage (GMG), following them on their search for old vehicles to restore and then sell at a profit. The Pilgrim Studios production premiered on 6th June 2012, and enjoyed a 16-season run until it was confirmed in December 2020 that the show had come to its end.

Boasting its peak popularity in the mid-2010s, a New York Times survey of the 50 TV shows with most Facebook likes discovered that “Fast N’ Loud” was the most favored choice for men by far, with 83% of likes coming from a male audience.

The series also spawned “Misfit Garage” and “Fast N’ Loud: Demolition Theater”, starring Richard and other GMG employees.

In true crossover fashion, Richard and the former GMG mechanic Aaron Kaufman, participated in a motorcycle build-off with Orange County Choppers, Paul Jr. Designs, and Jesse James – Paul Teutul Sr. and his son were also stars of the Discovery Channel until 2019. In the build-off, Richard and Aaron came in second to Paul Jr.

Other cast members of the show over the years have included Christie Brimberry, Charles Cimino, Mike Coy, Jeremy Cheatham, Kurt Busch, Russell J Holmes, and KC Mathieu. Despite the occasional on-screen squabble, the GMG employees were all perfect professionals and never failed to get things done. However, in the words of one eloquent journalist: “The short history of Fast N’ Loud is one riddled with on- and off-screen drama, and enough firings to bring an entire spin-off series into existence”.

Richard & Gas Monkey Garage

Richard, a respected entrepreneur and one of TV’s most entertaining personalities, was brought up in Fort Worth, Texas, and discovered his love for vehicles as a child through attending auto shows with his father. He purchased his first car at the age of 14, before he even matriculated from Eastern Hills High School.

Richard married Karen K. Grames in 1993, but they divorced in the following year, leaving him with plenty of time on his hands to focus on his professional ventures. His printing and advertising company Lincoln Press, was created in 1999, the year the businessman married Suzanne Marie Mergele in a lavish Las Vegas ceremony.

Just three years later, Richard launched GMG in Dallas, before selling Lincoln Press in 2004. The famous garage, which customizes hot-rod and classic automobiles for customers around the globe, became something of landmark for fans of “Fast ‘N Loud”, and is still in high demand to this day.

Posted by Gas Monkey Garage on Friday, April 1, 2022

Richard’s other shows include “Garage Rehab”, which he’s been co-hosting on the Discovery Channel since 2017, alongside Chris Stephens and Russell Holmes. The savvy entrepreneur pitched the concept to the network in 2015, and since then the show has focused on overhauling poorly-run automotive shops, and helping out harried business owners.

Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill was actually opened in September 2013 in Northwest Dallas, with a second location opening at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in March 2014. The sky’s the limit for Richard, who also aims to open a third Texas location in the future, preferably outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Gas Monkey Live, a music venue specializing in live performances, was opened in October 2014, but closed in May 2020 due to financial difficulties, brought on by coronavirus restrictions amongst other causes. Richard’s second failed business was a Texas-based restaurant venture named Richard Rawlings’ Garage, which opened in 2016 and permanently closed in March 2019.

On a brighter note, the co-host licensed the Gas Monkey brand to a line of energy drinks in the same year, and in 2015 also published his bestselling autography, “Fast N’ Loud: Blood, Sweat and Beers”.

Viewers of “Fast N’ Loud” have been curious to know if GMG is still in business as of 2022. Well Richard’s auto shop is thriving and more popular than ever, thanks to keeping things fresh with a merchandise line, giveaways, and a popular YouTube channel. With over 860,000 subscribers and counting, some of GMG’s most popular videos are “Epic 5 Day OBS Build”, “Car Buying 101 w/ Gas Monkey Millennials”, and “Fast N’ Loud Build Found In a STORAGE UNIT!”.

Richard’s videos all count hundreds of thousands of likes – his newest projects include the restoration of a rare 1967 S-Code Mustang. So far, the businessman has travelled to San Antonio and as far as Spain for work, all the while making sure to keep subscribers up to date with his comings and goings, and recording plenty of content for his YouTube channel.

Where Are They Now?

Fans of “Fast ‘N Loud” have been itching to know what the “Gas Monkeys” are up to nowadays. Some have moved to Arizona, while others have been busy capitalizing on their newfound fame to start up small businesses.

Jason is currently working as a shop foreman for Barrett Jackson Builds in Scottsdale, Arizona. He’s also been doing plenty of hiking and outdoors activities to keep himself occupied in his spare time, and his wife and children seem to be loving the change of scenery so far.

Charles, also known as “Sleeves”, is also working in Scottsdale, although it’s unclear if he’s also employed at Barrett Jackson Builds or in another company. Meanwhile, Jeremy is based in Phoenix, Arizona, and has worked for All American Chassis, Ceballos Custom, and Fat Fender Garage. An Instagram post captioned “big house and pool, what’s not to love” shows that the former Monkey is thrilled with his new lifestyle.

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Tony Cano has remained in Texas and is self-employed these days, running his business EVO Time Customs. Specializing in suspension requests, body kits, body work, restoration, metal work, welding, and automotive customization, Tony offers customers a wide catalogue of services. The company was started in 2009, and has been doing well ever since.

Josh Freeman has also set up his own business, Freeman Fabrication in Denton, Texas. With his cheerful outlook on life and catchy slogan of “If it’s metal we can build, repair, or modify it!”, things appear to be going fantastically well for the good-natured mechanic, who also posts prolifically on his YouTube channel.

As for the secondary cast members of “Fast N’ Loud”, Chad Isbell, the former parts guy in GMG, has been pictured with his wife in Arizona but has yet to report where he’s working nowadays. Mike is currently doing custom paint jobs and has been travelling the globe with his Italian girlfriend.

Keenan Horns is working with KC at KC’s Paint Shop, Hot Rods & Restorations in Burleson, Texas, and lastly, Jon Rodriguez is working for P.M. Standley Customs, which specializes in custom accessories and automotive sales.

Scandals

Despite his positive image, Richard has been embroiled in his fair share of scandals over the years. In February 2014, TMZ broke the story that two of the show’s most popular characters had been kicked off, allegedly for swearing at the manager on duty.

Tom Smith gave an interview, alleging that he and his co-star Jordan Butler were dismissed after letting a fan with cystic fibrosis pose for a photo next to Richard’s Rolls-Royce. Apparently, the manager on duty told them to “get the f*** away from the car,” which led to a heated verbal exchange, with Tom swearing and yelling back at him. Hours later, Richards fired him and Jordan.

There are certainly two sides to every story, as Richard also spoke to TMZ, claiming that the two former employees had given him nothing but problems.

Tom and Jordan soon found jobs at another garage, and hoped that the Discovery Channel would give them their own spin-off, which never materialized – they did, however, join the cast of “Misfit Garage”.

In April 2019, outlets reported that Richard claimed that Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill wasn’t permitted to use his brand. Along with the “Fast N’ Loud” production company, Richard filed a $1 million countersuit for alleged copyright infringement by the bar, despite having drawn up an agreement in 2013 that licensed use of his logos and trademark.

According to documents submitted in the lawsuit, the license automatically expired in 2018, and the bar had still been using Gas Monkey’s intellectual property without permission since then. It was reported that as part of the agreement, Gas Monkey Bar had to obtain written consent to use Richard’s trademarked logos. Richard himself complained that the bar was using the logos to promote “disparaging, lewd, and sexually suggestive content and events”.

In February 2019, Gas Monkey Holdings, Rawlings’ LLC, had sent Gas Monkey Bar and its managing member Daniel Flaherty a formal cease and desist letter, allowing him 10 days to stop using the Gas Monkey and GMG names and trademarks. Richard’s countersuit was filed in response to a 2018 lawsuit from the bar claiming that the TV personality had taken part in defamation and “deliberate and deceitful attempts” to end his contract with the bar and music venue.

Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time that the bar and grill made headlines: following a sting operation, the staff were found to be replacing premium liquor with subpar substitutions.

As for the high staff turnover in GMG, Aaron was just one of many employees who mysteriously disappeared. The mechanic revealed that he left due to professional and personal differences, feeling that his creativity was being hindered by the show, sentiments that were later echoed by several of his colleagues.

Posted by Jason Aker – Gas Monkey Garage on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SEMA Giveaway

Now going way back in time, Richard’s first recorded online controversy came about in 2006, and has been largely forgotten by netizens. The aspiring celebrity teamed up with Dodgy Monkey Media for what would be known as the disastrous Anti-Christ marketing campaign; in a desperate effort to gain more publicity, the guys at Dodgy Monkey Media began spamming bulletin boards with promotional material for a car giveaway at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.

The disturbing promotion material, which consisted of a photograph and video featured GMG, at the time a fairly well-known auto shop with two years in the industry. In the promotional photo, Richard and his shop manager could be seen posing in women’s thongs imprinted with the crude Gas Monkey slogan of yesteryear: “Spank My Money”.

The video itself, which is still floating around on the internet, included shots of Richard and the shop manager welding without protection, drinking and driving, and even urinating in the street. In one scene, Richard boldly declared that he was “establishing himself as ‘The Anti-Christ of the Hot Rod World’”.

Internet sleuths soon found that the promotional “giveaway car” bore a striking resemblance to vehicles used in other marketing promotions, including the car GMG was building for David Coker, and the 1931 Ford Rat Rod that Richard drove in a promotional automotive rally. At the time, SEMA was campaigning to tap into the lucrative youth market and “rat rod” automotive culture.

Joseph Corker defended the disastrous marketing campaign on the bulletin board; coincidentally, his brother David was featured in the video as a sponsor, and had served as SEMA Chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2005.

Posted by Gas Monkey Garage on Thursday, March 17, 2022

When users of the Hotrodders bulletin board expressed their skepticism, an anonymous user by the name of ‘Man’ began threatening the forum’s administrator. It was soon revealed that ‘Man’ and Joseph Corker had the same I.P address.

The users of Hotrodders appealed to the SEMA Board of Directors, who issued a statement through their PR firm claiming that there were no plans for a car giveaway at their annual show. The rest of the industry soon followed suit, and distanced themselves from Richard’s marketing campaign, while the marketer was also revealed to have close links to the Discovery Channel.

At the time, GMG had been featured in several episodes of Discovery’s car show “Overhaulin’”. Although the network refused to comment, they pulled all said episodes and cut ties with GMG – that is, until “Fast N’ Loud” was created.

So was there ever a dull moment in the Gas Monkey Garage, or the “Fast N’ Loud” series? It would seem not – the entertainment just rolled on!

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