Brian’s interest in building a 1955 Chevy sparked when he saw his dad had one lying in the shadows of a full garage. This once fully functioning race car, painted and called the “Time Machine” was stripped down to just the primer on the body and Draglite wheels. This mental image of the car and what it could become developed into a fond childhood memory for Brian.
In 1998, Brian received his first loan to purchase a 1955 Chevy to build into a streetcar. It wasn’t the most responsible choice at the time. He graduated from high school and had only begun his 6-month journey of starting a business. It was a rolling shell when he got it, but it was a great car to learn how to add a roll cage, do sheet metalwork, and the general assembly of one for the first time. As he looks back at it now, it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
Nine months later, Brian had it racing down the dragstrips. It was built as a streetcar so he could cruise it through the avenues, attend local cruise nights, and of course, take it racing. The excitement of racing became a continuing challenge to force the car to travel faster in a short distance. Back then, he was using a 5-speed transmission and nitrous 383.
In 2002, Brian and his friends were leaving for Carcraft Summer Nationals until the truck’s brake pedal decided to go to the floor. Without any luck to find a master cylinder, they decided to throw their suitcases in the back of the ’55 and were determined to make it to the show. Many people could not believe that a 9 second car made it there from Iowa without trailering it up. After that year, he decided to sell the truck and trailer to start driving it to every show. The ’55 Chevy has been in every small town and backroad in Eastern Iowa that would sometimes lead to 12 to 15 hour-long drives at a time. Now, he has driven it to or through 26 states, countless times.
After competing in Byron’s Wheel Stand contest and participating at Hot Rod Drag Week in 2006, Brian decided to sell it to build a Chevy ll for Drag Week in the 2007 season. Chuck Etchells (a former top fuel funny car driver) had bought the ’55 and had stripped it all down to do a color change and never had the chance to finish it. After his passing, Brian was able to get it back in 2017.
But the fun didn’t stop there. In 2018, Brian’s cousin and partner, Jes Havlik, and he conquered an “epic” restoration back to its former glory and color. Their goal was to get it back on the road for the 2018 Drag Week. 20 days before Drag Week, they started putting the painted shell together. It became an all-in ideal when David Frieberger from Hotrod was cheering them on. His comment was “just make it happen”, which is what they did.
After driving it all night to Georgia with the car, it still needed a lot more things done to it but good enough to push it through tech. It has the front window tapped in, had one header, wrenches holding the quarter windows up, and a laundry list of things that were not fully completed. After four days of no sleep, the wheel studs came off and crashed on the way to the second track during a hurricane evacuation in the middle of nowhere in South Carolina.
Tom Bailey had a good response when he was asked ‘why do you do what you do? Bailey’s reply was “for the F#@king adventure.” The statement entirely describes every experience Brian has gone through with the ‘55. He has been on fire, crashed, blown up, and not to mention that he almost got himself arrested for avoiding floods, tornados, monsoons, and hurricanes. Not only did he have to go through bad weather, but it was all done by living in the hotrod and driving across the country with no vehicles following to help.
Recently, Brian had finished Sick Week with an 8 second average for the week with no power adders. At the end of his long week, he turned around and took it to the Detroit Autorama on their way back. Autorama is where he received 2nd place in his class. So far, the car has run a best of 8.76 leaving off idle. The next two big drag and drive event that Brian will be attending is the Summit Racing’s Midwest Drags in June and Race Week 2.0 in September.
Overview of the 1955 Chevy
The ’55 is an all-steel original body with stock frame and floor to the back half, stock A-arms, back seat, headliner, and completed with a sound system down to the AMP and 15” subs. The engine is a 632 ci with an Aluminum dart block with a dart 20-degree heads. Brian had Bullet Racing Cams make a custom .900 plus lift camshaft spinning the Moral bushed roller lifters. The engine is topped with a profiler tunnel ram and two Competition Carburetion 1150 Dominators that receive fed air through a custom ram air hood. The AutoMeter 5” Monster tach is 25+ years old that was taken from his friend’s car from high school. With the Sport-Comp 2 5/8 trans temp gauges, he was able to keep an eye on the 400 turbos and gear vendor overdrive along with matching oil, water, and volts gauges.