The Shop: Ken Hernecek of Fred Martin Collision Center - BodyShop Business

The Shop: Ken Hernecek of Fred Martin Collision Center

This body shop manager loves his Chevelles...and loves to put the pedal to the metal.

Ken Hernecek
Collision Center Manager
Fred Martin Collision Center, Barberton, Ohio

Talk about your collection of Chevelles.
I currently have seven, but I’ve had a couple thousand over the years because I used to buy and sell them. The most I’ve ever had at one time was 39.

Why Chevelles?
They’re an intermediate car, have good weight balance and go fast. And I like to go fast.

What’s the fastest you’ve gone on a public road?
160 miles per hour. Interstate 71 South. Stuff goes by pretty fast.

Are you still going that fast today?
No, I’m a little smarter today.

Do you ever drag race anybody?
Every year.

Is it spur-of-the-moment or pre-arranged?
Both. And I do track racing as well. A couple of friends and I visit the local racetracks.

Why do you do it?
The adrenaline rush. And the street scene is even more of an adrenaline rush because now you’re watching for people, police and everything else.

Is it the thrill also that you might get caught?
It doesn’t matter where you go, if you’re out there doing something, you’re going to get caught. It’s just a matter of how much time is on your side.

Ever get hurt?
I’ve been hurt a few times.

What do you say when you go to the hospital?
Car accident. You’re trying to give them information to help them do what you need done, but you’re not going to tell them what was going on.

Is it harder to escape notice with red light cameras today?
Yes, that’s why nobody does it that much anymore. Twenty-five to 30 years ago, it was every night, anywhere you went. Could be today, could be Tuesday, could be next Thursday, didn’t matter. It was just fun and it was the thing we did. We all drove fast cars.
Where do you keep your cars?
I have a few at home, a few in a storage unit I rent, and two in my sister’s garage. Those two are special and that’s why they’re in her garage because it’s heated. I actually carpeted her garage, too. It’s nice because it keeps the moisture down and stuff like that.

Are they worth a lot?
Last year when I started here at Fred Martin, I got an offer of $380,000 on my Roadrunner, so if you look at what I bought the car for ($12,500), yes, it’s worth something. I didn’t know when I bought it that the value would go up so much, I had just always wanted one. I wanted one, I got it, I traded up for a better one and the one I have now is the one I kept. It’s a really nice car, all stock. I’ve driven it about a mile in the 20 years I’ve owned it. It never comes out. I’m afraid someone is going to hit it or something and then it would be worthless.

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