Published on September 10th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

Hawk Tank to take a bit of Iowa City to Ames

The tailgaters: Ryan Howell, Ed Brafford and Josh Burkhart, all 33

Their transport: The Hawk Tank, a 1976 Winnebago Chieftain that the trio bought after the 2009 season. “The Hawk Tank is what brought us together to tailgate,” Howell said. “Before that we didn’t really have a venue to tailgate. We would watch games together, but we hadn’t traveled before that.”

The gear: Step into the Hawk Tank and you’re stepping onto Astroturf, which lines the floor. There are old photos of Kinnick Stadium, Hayden Fry and more. Almost everything is black and gold, except for the bathroom. That’s Pepto-Bismol pink, just like the visitors’ locker room at Kinnick.

The Hawk Tank has exterior speakers that help amplify the train horn that the trio recently installed. When the tank rolls into Iowa City on game days they blare the horn while playing AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”

What fuels them: The bloody Marys on the Hawk Tank are made with Tito’s vodka. The tailgaters were first on the lot at Soldier Field when the Hawkeyes played there last year, and the Tito’s promotional Airstream was second. It was the beginning of a love affair that continues this season. “It’s become the official vodka for whatever we’re doing,” Howell said.

Traditions: Hawkeye cologne. Before heading into the stadium the trio dab themselves on the neck with Hawkeye cologne that they keep in a miniature Winnebago Chieftain bottle.

Tailgating style: “Classic. We go for a very authentic experience,” Howell said. The Hawkeye decor fits with the timeframe the Hawk Tank was made, with the Hawkeye logo that was being used in 1976 on the exterior, and “Iowa” being written in the stylized cursive the team used then.

“It’s awesome sharing it. You bring a lot of smiles to people’s faces as it’s rolling down the road,” Howell said. “Just driving anywhere to get gas, there’s a lot of rubbernecking.”

On the road: The trio try to hit one road game a season. This year it’s Ames. “Last time we were discriminated against for being obnoxious Hawkeye fans,” Howell said.

See more photos of the Hawk Tank.


About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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