Why the owners of Gas Monkey Garage—the focus of Discovery Channel’s hit TV show “Fast N’ Loud”—decided to install HD video surveillance.

HD Video Installation Goes Mainstream

Why the owners of Gas Monkey Garage—the focus of Discovery Channel’s hit TV show “Fast N’ Loud”—decided to install HD video surveillance.

Gas Monkey GarageGas Monkey Garage went from being an unknown auto body shop in Dallas, to a tourist destination for classic car fans from all over the Southwest. After Gas Monkey Garage’s two main men, Richard Rawlings (owner) and Aaron Kaufman (lead mechanic), landed the hit show “Fast N’ Loud” on the Discovery Channel, fans and car aficionados began flocking to their shop.

With national recognition and fans (more than three quarters of a million on Facebook, in fact) comes a security risk. After being on the air for about a year, the guys at Gas Monkey Garage decided they wanted to install a video surveillance system. Their garage has open doors and people constantly coming and going, so a security breach was a high possibility.

Gas Monkey Garage got in touch with local security installation company Advance Alarms, who recommended the garage use CostarVideo Systems for their installation. Advance Alarms has been using Costar Video Systems, located in Coppell, Texas, since around 1985.

“Gas Monkey just kind of blew up,” said Keith Daulton, the national account manager for Costar. “They were rolling faster than they could get protection for.” He added that some fans would just stroll right into the garage, which could cause a myriad of liability issues.

Due to the Texas heat, as Daulton puts it, the guys need to have their doors open all the time. Coupled with their fervent fans, expensive hot rods and unique tools, Gas Monkey Garage needed a very specialized security system.

“They have a lot of overzealous fans that will jump over the fence to get a picture, things of that nature,” Daulton said. “What they needed was a two-fold system to protect them and to protect them from the customers as well.”

What Was Installed?

According to Zac Blount, the owner of Advance Alarms, the guys at Gas Monkey Garage wanted to install something top of the line. No analog for Gas Monkey Garage—HD all the way.

“Richard said, ‘I don’t want the standard stuff everybody has, I want the best I can get,’” according to Blount, who then showed Rawlings Costar’s line of products. “They also wanted something that could meet his needs when he was off-site.” This is why, according to Blount, Costar was the perfect fit—not only were they located down the road, but they also have HD cameras with mobile monitoring capabilities.

The comprehensive security system features a variety of network cameras throughout the garage that are designed to capture HD video everywhere from the parking lot, to the merchandise shop, to the restoration garage. Each camera has 2- to 5-megapixel resolution and can send video to a 16-channel iNEX network video recorder, which can play in real-time or be played back. Other features include a height strip camera in the merchandise shop and bullet cameras with IP66 weatherproof rating outside to monitor the parking lot and provide perimeter protection.

One challenge of the installation, according to Daulton, was ensuring that the cameras weren’t obtrusive. “This is a live studio and they are filming all time, so the last thing you want is twenty cameras hanging in the way,” he said. They installed the cameras in places that didn’t change the landscape of the facility, but still covered the entire garage.

In addition to protecting the shop from excited fans or possible theft, the cameras help the shop’s owner manage from afar through his iPhone or iPad.

According to Christie Brimberry, Gas Monkey Garage’s office manager and Richard’s right-hand woman, an added benefit of the security system is that Richard can monitor the garage through his iPhone while he’s traveling and looking for old cars.

“It really helps Richard micromanage,” said Brimberry, laughing. “He’ll call and say ‘Hey, why are you guys sitting in the lounge? Why aren’t you working?’ Or ‘Why are the boys jacking around with this car when this is the one that we’re actually building?’ So from a management point of view, if you’re out of town, it helps you keep up with what is happening inside the shop.”

Daulton agreed with this sentiment. “Richard is a very hands-on owner of a company with a lot of employees,” he said, adding that Richard has a strong Type A personality. “With him traveling all the time, he likes to be able to look in and check on things.”

Another possible benefit of the cameras, according to Blount, is using the recorded video as footage for the TV show. Though this hasn’t been done yet (copyright/ legal issues would need to be discussed with Discovery), it is a possibility.

A Practical Application

Though the cameras were installed only a few months ago, they have already been used in a security breach. When Richard went to work one morning, his Ferrari looked slightly different to him. Something was off—there were splotches and dust where there shouldn’t have been.

He went back to the previous night’s security footage and lo and behold, the two women from the night cleaning crew had been taking pictures with the cars. Not only that, they had laid on top of them in lewd positions and even climbed onto some of the hoods.

Needless to say, the two employees were fired. Not only are the cars at Gas Monkey classic and expensive, they also have hours upon hours of work put into them. Had Rawlings and Kaufman not had security cameras in place, they would’ve never known what happened or who the culprits were.

“If stuff goes missing or if crews are in your business after hours, you can go back and see what’s really going on,” Brimberry said. “[The cameras are] helpful that way, as well.”

Seamless Integration

Overall, Gas Monkey Garage has been very satisfied with the installation. According to Blount, he and Daulton stop by on a weekly basis not only to check on the system, but also because the whole installation created a sort of friendship among everyone involved. The shop plans on expanding in the near future which, according to Daulton, means an expansion of their security system as well.

In addition to possibly expanding their garage, Gas Monkey Garage has opened a restaurant, aptly called Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill. Located just a mile away from the garage, the 19,000 sq. ft. joint (think beer and burgers) located on the water offers lunch and dinner, as well as live music shows at night. Though Advance Alarms and Costar haven’t installed an HD security system at the restaurant yet, according to Blount, they hope to do so in the near future.

According to Brimberry, everyone at the garage has given a positive review of the Costar security system. Not only does it give the owners peace of mind, but it also helps with everyday tasks, such as trying to find someone or making sure the t-shirt girl in the merchandise shop isn’t overwhelmed.

Daulton couldn’t agree more. “From everything I can tell you, they like it, they love it, and they want some more of it.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Security Today.

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