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Gearheads raisin' gearheads

Hot Rods by Havliks

Brian Havlik is proof that if you have a gearhead dad there is a pretty good chance that you will become a gear head yourself. His dad, Gary Havlik, was a machinist at Quaker Oats and he drag raced a 1955 Chevy.

Brian started building cars while he was in high school. His first car was a 1970 Chevy Nova with a 307 cubic inch engine. He built his own 1955 Chevy when he was 18 years old. The 55 was entered in a wheelie contest at Byron Dragway in Byron Illinois in 2002. He took the 55 on his first Hot Rod Drag Week in 2006. Drag Week is an event put on by Hot Rod Magazine. Competitors drive over 1000 miles on public roads over a five day period to four different drag strips and make five runs down the track. The lowest average ET in each of the nine classes determines the champion in each class.

After the 2006 Drag Week Brian sold the 55 to NHRA funny car driver Chuck Etchells. His next car was a 1962 Chevy II. He entered the Chevy II in the 2007 Drag Week and placed 3rd in the Unlimited Class. In 2008 he started H&W Speedshop in Cedar Rapids with partner Scott Wharton. Brian left H&W in 2011 and built cars in his home garage. He sold the Chevy II in 2012.

2017 and 2018 were big moments in Brian’s life as in 2017 he was able to buy back his 55 Chevy that he had sold to Chuck Etchells and in 2018 he started Hot Rods by Havliks with his cousin Jes Havlik.

With constant urging form Hot Rod Magazine’s Editor in Chief Dave Freiberger, Brian and Jes thrashed on the 55 Chevy to put it back together in time for the 2018 Drag Week event that would travel up and down the east coast. After many long days and sleepless nights, it looked like Brian was going to come up short in his quest to get the 55 done in time. But then a plan was made to trailer the unfinished 55 and all of the parts down to Braselton Georgia to Shawn Carter’s Zookeeper Speed and Custom shop.

Shawn was a long time friend and with the combined efforts of Brian, Shawn and Jes they were able to get the car done in time for Drag Week. Unfortunately Drag Week did not go well for Brian as he sheared off the wheel studs on the car. The photo of the car with the broken wheel studs and rear quarter damage went viral on the internet. Brian and Jes have a full shop of projects at Hot Rods by Havliks.

One of their latest projects is a newly built 1967 Nova to be given away at the 2020 Summit Racing Midwest Drags event. It has been a long journey for a kid that started building cars in his dad’s garage to owning his own hot rod shop. Yes, gearheads do raise gearheads.


Steven Day lives in Cedar Rapids a few blocks from where he was born and raised. His father was a hot rodder and he was brought up in that life style. He's been involved in kart, sports car, stock car and drag racing over the years and restored numerous muscle cars. Now retired he spends time researching and writing about Iowa’s car and motorcycle history, collecting skateboards, and helping run charity car shows. He also heads the Hawkeye Downs Wall of Fame. And he's still building hot rods and custom cars in his garage.


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