116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Although under a new name, the Street Drags held monthly at Hawkeye Downs Speedway continue to attract drivers and cars of all ages.
That includes septuagenarian “Billboard” Bob Klaus of Cedar Rapids, who brought his 2013 Cadillac CTSV to the 300-foot stretch of the front straightaway on Thursday.
The luxury vehicle has 556-horse power under its hood.
“I thought it’d be kind of fun to see what I could do out here with it and not get in trouble on the street,” said the 73-year-old Klaus.
When asked if the Cadillac was more comfortable or fast, Klaus said, “Yes. Both.”
Klaus joined the Air Force after graduating from Regis High School in 1966 and spent a few years in Cedar Rapids after completing his service before moving to Phoenix for 23 years.
“I had a brother there and, of course, the nice weather,” Klaus said. “But this was always home.”
After raising his two oldest children, and with his younger two approaching school-age, Klaus decided he no longer wanted to long for pheasant season when returning for class reunions.
“I thought this was a better place to raise them,” Klaus said.
That led to Bob and his wife Patti moving their 6-year-old son Kyle and 4-year-old daughter Kelli to his hometown more than two decades ago.
With Klaus having a chauffer’s license since he was 19, he was able to quickly find work until his dream job found him and gave him his nickname.
“I always wanted to sell billboards in Phoenix,” Klaus said. “I was making a delivery next door at Welter’s Storage and saw a billboard for Lamar Advertising.”
Klaus stopped in for an application and soon after got the job he loved and held until retiring in 2018.
“When I first retired I spent the first eight months wasting time,” Klaus said. “Finally I got on with a company that hauls FedEx Ground.”
Since he already had the proper paperwork, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Last week alone Klaus made trips to Dubuque, Rock Island and Chicago — making him wonder if he’s still retired.
“It’s almost like, ‘What am I doing?” Klaus said. “But, I love it.”
Klaus is happy to be back in the slower lane of life Cedar Rapids provides, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t get an itch once in a while driving his Cadillac.
“If I feel the need for speed, I can do it,” Klaus said. “It’s been 23 years since we’ve moved back and I’m so glad we did it.”