Long before the empire existed, Crowley native Aaron Kaufman worked at Rawlings' side as his top mechanic. When a production company came calling in 2011 and Discovery bought the pilot, Kaufman stayed with the show and helped to make it a success.
Fast 'N Loud has already had three spinoffs for Discovery: Misfit Garage, Garage Rehab and Demolition Theater. The latter was a car clip show that included Kaufman.
That year, Kaufman left Gas Monkey to start his own shop, Arclight Fabrication, which specializes in Ford F-100s. Now he's getting his own Discovery show, with Rawlings' blessing.
Shifting Gears, which premieres at 9 p.m. Monday, March 5, will show Kaufman and his team building custom cars and then putting them through grueling exercises that test their performance and limitations — in some cases, destroying them.
"Cars don't really die," Kaufman told the Observer in a 2011 interview, a year before Fast 'N Loud began airing. "They just have multiple lives. They reincarnate."
In the same interview, Kaufman revealed that he was once a hippie who dreamed of becoming a park ranger. He got into customizing cars as a teenager, when he got a Jeep Cherokee.
"You have to fix all the things that bother you," he said. "I like to fix things that are perfectly fine."
Shifting Gears airs at 9 p.m. Monday, March 5, on the Discovery Channel.