Fast N’ Loud pull a Bait N’ Switch
Last night was the hotly-anticipated premiere of Fast N’ Loud‘s new season… but it failed to deliver on one key tease.
As Echoba.se’s resident petrolhead, I get my Top Gear fix in the off-season with Discovery Channel’s awesome TV show Fast N’ Loud. I’ve written about it extensively before; and since we’ve spent time defending sports fans as geeks, I don’t think I need to apologize for displaying my enthusiasm for this reality-show phenomenon.
That being said, what makes Fast N’ Loud different to most reality shows it that it’s actually routed in… well, reality. Gas Monkey Garage is a real business, the cars you see on the show you can really buy on eBay, and the mechanics and crew who star in the show are real people.
And that means real shit happens to them – like what’s been teased extensively in the lead-up to the “season that changes everything.”
The storyline for the 2017 season is that Aaron Kaufman – the ‘bearded wonder’ and mechanical muscle behind the success of Gas Monkey Garage – is leaving the show. According to real life info on the surprisingly reclusive Gas Monkey, this isn’t just a ratings gimmick – Kaufman truly is quitting the shop he’s been head mechanic of for nearly 15 years.
And so last night, I tuned in with millions of others to see what had transpired… and the season premiere failed to deliver! Both ‘supercharged’ two-hour episodes ended with Kaufman still in his role with the GMG boys… which was kind of disappointing.
That being said, the episodes teased what might be happening soon quite heavily. The first episode showed the Gas Monkeys build another Hot Wheels car; a real-life hot rod that the toy company would then build a scale model toy of. Aaron was mysteriously absent for that entire project; leaving the Gas Monkey’s to go it alone. Star and boss Richard Rawlings explained that it was a ‘personal emergency’ and – proving that he’s a decent bloke – said that “as bad as it is for us without Aaron, if it’s important enough for him to leave this project, it’s probably much worse for him.”
The second episode followed Aaron’s return to Pike’s Peak, where he planned to beat the 12 minute marker in his race to the top. That episode highlighted Aaron’s increasing independence from the Gas Monkey shop floor; and suggested that there’s a chasm developing between him and Richard.
It’s compelling stuff; as much as I complain about the season premiere not revealing what happened, I’ll be tuning in to find out more; and musing in the meantime about what might have happened.
Two things are clear:
Firstly, Aaron must be feeling some frustration at how the success of Gas Monkey Garage is not being reflected in his paycheck. As far as we’re aware, he’s still an employee of Gas Monkey Garage; and it’s Richard who’s raking in the licensing bucks with Gas Monkey-branded tequila, energy drinks and restaurant chains. As Aaron’s fame and influence increases, surely he feels the need to strike out and start leveraging that.
But the premiere episode also revealed that for all Aaron’s skill with a spanner (that’s a ‘wrench’ to you Americans) he’s not quite as indispensable as we might have come to believe. Richard’s regular Monkeys managed to pull off the high-profile Hot Wheels build and that means maybe they’ve finally reached the stage of being able to operate autonomously.
One thing is sure – wherever Aaron goes, we can hope it won’t be far. Richard Rawlings keeps both his friends and enemies close; with former Monkey KC running a successful paint shop, and four disgruntled former Monkeys forming the owner-operated Misfit Garage; which is another show on Discovery (that cynics can’t help but point out has Richard Rawling’s fingerprints all over it.)
Richard Rawlings is the powerhouse who built the Gas Monkey brand; but Aaron has definitely been part of that success. We can only hope Kaufman remains in the Monkeysphere moving forward; because he’s as much a part of what makes Fast N’ Loud interesting as the builds, beers and broads.
We’ll keep you posted.