Gas Monkey Hero Developing Motorcycle Show

Richard Rawlings says he plans to pitch custom build show to Discovery Channel

North Texas hero and entrepreneur Richard Rawlings has revealed that he’s hoping to develop a custom-motorcycle-focused series for Discovery Channel.

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Rawlings is, of course, the owner of Dallas-based Gas Monkey Garage and chief protagonist of the wildly popular TV series “Fast n Loud,” which follows the misadventures of the aforementioned hot-rod-building garage. The show has been such a success for Rawlings that it’s spurred numerous other ventures, including the Gas Monkey Bar n’ Grill, Richard Rawlings’ Garage (restaurant), and Gas Monkey Live (music venue).

Richard Rawlings may be responsible for the popularity of Dodge Challengers in Texas.

Meanwhile, I am convinced that Rawlings’ role as a spokesman for Dodge is the reason you see so many more Dodge Challengers being driven in North Texas than elsewhere (in most parts of the United States the Ford Mustang is the dominant muscle car in terms of consumer choice).

Indeed, Rawlings has a little bit of the Midas touch these days, so it seems a foregone conclusion that the program he’s developing with custom builder John Shope will get the green light. Rawlings announced on Instagram this week that he and Shope will be officially pitching the show to Discovery on Monday, asking his 1.4 million followers (only 1,399,880 more followers than TMO) to show their support for the idea.

“You know we really need some new biker blood on Discovery,” he said. “I’m pitching a show with the most badass custom bike makers I know, John Shope’s Dirty Bird Concepts.”

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John Shope

Shope and his shop are based in Phoenix, Arizona. They were apparently featured on a History Channel show called “Biker Battleground Phoenix” back in 2014. The shop focuses on customizing V-twin motorcycles – baggers in particular, so it doesn’t seem to be a huge departure from Discovery’s existing motorcycle-related program, “American Chopper.”

To that end, the actual show looks a little disappointing. A concept video shared on Rawlings’ Instagram account and Dirty Bird’s Facebook page gives a taste of a TV show that looks, for lack of a better word, awful.

All the tropes are there: humor built upon causing harm to others, manufactured conflict, a complete lack of irony in insinuating that this stuff is actually important, and a somewhat muscley guy with tattoos who swears a lot and feels the need to tell you how “crazy” he is.

“What we do is highly illegal, it’s dangerous,” brags Shope in the video. “We talk shit, we back it up, we race, we crash, we fuckin’ win.”

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Fuckin’ winning

I’m sure Shope is actually a swell dude, and there’s no denying that some of the builds attributed to Dirty Bird are kind of cool (if you are able to appreciate the over-the-top charm of a big-wheel bagger). Additionally, if you’re going to make a show about custom bikes, it’s nice to see a shop focused on performance rather than bling alone. But the concept as seen here fails to grasp what’s good about Rawlings’ own show – which is that it has traditionally eschewed that sort of stuff.

Indeed, in making the announcement about the pitch, Rawlings called back to a “Fast n Loud” episode when he and former co-presenter Aaron Kaufman (who has since splintered off to do his own show, “Shifting Gears”) made fun of the “American Chopper” style of reality TV by swearing at each other and throwing a trash can around.

Richard Rawlings (left) as Paul Teutul Jr, and Aaron Kaufman as Paul Teutul Sr.

I agree with Rawlings’ argument that it would be good to see motorcycles better represented on television, but I’m not sure this idea, as it stands, steps far enough away from existing concepts to differentiate itself and be a success.

That said, Rawlings does seem to understand his genre. He has played a part in the development of a number of shows, including “Shifting Gears,” “Misfit Garage,” “Garage Rehab,” and “Street Outlaws.” So, he may know what works. Or, he and his team may be able to find a way to make this show better than it appears to be at first glance.

Meanwhile, since being a reality TV star is now an acceptable prerequisite to political life, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before Rawlings is made governor of Texas.