Written by Ainsley Jacobs
For NHRA Top Fuel legend and three-time world champion Antron Brown, there’s something even more important than the success of his career – the success of his children. Now, as his middle child, Anson, prepares to age out of Junior Dragster competition, Antron is passing the torch to the next generation of Brown family racers.
Before he got started racing in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, Antron attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to complete their Pro Stock Motorcycle class; he joined the Don Schumacher Racing team in 2002 and returned to the School with teammate Angelle Sampey in 2005 to brush up on his skills.
In 2007, Antron once again trusted Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to prepare him for the next step in his career when he received his Top Alcohol Dragster license and went on to pilot the pinnacle of performance, a Top Fuel dragster.
Antron remembers that time at the School as if it were just yesterday, as he shifted his alcohol dragster quicker than Hawley had ever seen anyone do before. “I was swapping feet and doing everything to leave the line and shift down the racetrack,” laughed the driver, who impressed his instructor tremendously. “Frank [Hawley] said the Top Fuel Dragster would be easier for me to operate, but more difficult due to the rate of acceleration and was prepping me to understand what would happen when I moved up.”
When he finally did make the jump, Antron’s natural aptitude made others wonder if he was a true rookie or a veteran of the category. Driving the 10,000-horsepower machine was practically second nature to Antron, and he credits the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School with helping him get to that point.
“It’s more than just learning how to go down the racetrack, it’s also a mind game. Frank has all of the knowledge to give you the mental focus and preparation to be repeatedly successful,” asserted Antron. “From true beginners learning the basics to experienced professionals, Frank can take a racer of any phase and help them learn something. If you have the willingness to learn, you’ll improve.”
When Antron’s son, Anson, wanted to go racing at just 8-years-old, the Indiana-based family fully supported the budding racer’s dream and got him started in the Junior Dragster ranks. With a few championship titles of his own in the Midwest Jr. Super Series, Anson showed promising skill early on. For his upcoming seventeenth birthday in 2021, though, Anson decided he wanted to step up to a bigger car and his parents gave him the gift of a Super Comp license course at Frank Hawley’s in June at the famed Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
Thinking back to his own days at the School and the nerves that came along with the unexpected, Antron tried to reassure his son that he would be just fine – and he was. “All of the kids in Anson’s Super Comp class listened and responded well. It’s amazing to see the next generation of drivers come up all together,” shared Antron, who enjoyed seeing the kids compete on the track and cheer each other on throughout the entire experience. “I remember seeing Anson’s face and his excitement when he came back from making his first full quarter-mile pass over 150 miles per hour and thinking… wow, he’s all grown up.”
Anson was admittedly nervous at first, too, but quickly realized that he had no reason to be. “I had a great time and Frank was amazing with his instruction. I don’t think anyone could have taught me better, not even my dad,” laughed Anson, who enjoyed receiving feedback on how he could improve as a driver and hopes one day to get behind the wheel of a Pro Mod doorslammer or nitro-fueled Funny Car or Top Fuel Dragster just like his father. “The Super Comp car was bigger and faster than my Junior Dragster and was really exciting. Whenever I’m in a car, I’m happy.”
Hawley loves shaping a part of drag racing’s future through helping aspiring drivers, especially teens, to cut their teeth in a safe and controlled environment.
“Anson clearly has learned a lot from watching and listening to his dad,” affirmed the School’s founder. “Antron is a perfect example of how you can actually achieve your dreams in our sport. He has worked his way up to a champion driver and now an NHRA Top Fuel team owner. He’s one of the best drivers in our sport, and he does an incredible job for his sponsors. He is truly a perfect role model for Anson.”
Although Antron and Anson both are ready for the next phase of the young man’s driving career, the elder knows that there is no rewind button on life. Instead, he’s simply trying to enjoy the moments, memories, and time that they have in the Junior Dragster ranks while they still can.
In addition to Anson, Antron’s two other children, Adler and Arianna, are also carrying on the family’s drag racing tradition with their own endeavors. Where all of their careers ultimately take them (after college, of course), and whether that’s within the automotive industry or not, Antron and his wife, Billie Jo, will always love and support them unconditionally.
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion, Robert Hight, has enjoyed tremendous success throughout his drag racing career. When his daughter, Autumn, decided to push her own driving skills to the next level, he made sure that she got the same great instruction from Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School just like he did when he was younger.
Robert first attended the School in 2003 to complete its Super Comp course, then returned in 2004 to obtain his Top Alcohol Funny Car license. Having started with John Force Racing over a quarter-of-a-century ago as a crew man but knowing right from the beginning that Funny Car was his destination, Robert worked hard to achieve his goal.
“I still remember being surprised at how difficult it was to drive a Super Comp car. It was a really humbling experience for me,” shared Robert of his rookie experience nearly a decade prior, which included much more than just on-track driving. “I believe that Frank Hawley’s class has been instrumental to my achievements and in my career. Frank has a lot of knowledge and experience. If you pay attention, you’ll learn a lot of life lessons, too.”
At just eight years old, Robert’s daughter got her start following in the family tradition of racing. Autumn began racing NHRA Jr. Dragsters and worked her way up through the age groups. Although she hasn’t been able to get to as many events as the family would like, due to Robert’s competition calendar, she finished strong in third overall in her class in 2020.
Now, as her 17th birthday isn’t far off, Autumn is taking steps to start fielding Super Comp dragsters – just like her father’s former days. As Robert had such a positive experience at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School himself, the family made the easy decision to enroll Autumn in the School’s courses as well.
To prepare for her participation in the School and maximize her time there with a head start on learning the ropes, Robert had Autumn sit in a Super Comp car at their shop so she could run through the procedures. She arrived at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in late June of 2021 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana, and – unsurprisingly – did quite well.
“I sat through some of the lectures, too, because Frank is the best teacher I’ve ever had. Having won three world championships, I still don’t have it all figured out and I enjoyed learning more,” laughed Robert, who was admittedly a little nervous about his typically timid daughter. “She’s maybe 5’2” and was the smallest in the class by a long shot. When I saw her go and make her first run, she could barely see over the dash.”
Despite her diminutive stature, Autumn stood out in the class. She drove with complete confidence and determination, and even had the fastest speed as a byproduct of her weight advantage. “She just put her foot down and did a full burnout, unlike some others who are too quick,” said Robert with pride in his voice. “In my opinion, she made the best first pass of everyone. She truly did a great job.”
Autumn absolutely loved every minute of her time at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, her huge smile clearly evident after every run even with her helmet still on thanks to the glow on her face and the excitement in her voice. “It was such an awesome experience!” proclaimed Autumn. “I learned a lot more than just driving the actual race car, and Frank made sure that everyone was very involved in the overall classes and learning about everything.”
Seeing Autumn drive one of the School’s cars brought back memories for Hawley of when he first watched her dad do the same. “She did a great job, but when you have a guy like Robert Hight, in my opinion one of the best Funny Car drivers ever, as your coach, I wasn’t surprised by her performance,” he affirmed. “We’ve been fortunate over the years to have worked with all of the John Force Racing drivers and we look forward to helping Autumn with her future endeavors.”
The Hight family plans to have Autumn continue her NHRA Jr. Dragster career until she ages out and moves on to the next level. While her ultimate goal isn’t clear just yet, it’s likely Autumn will engage in Super Comp competition while also considering future options as well as avenues outside of racing – if she chooses. “I’ve encouraged her to pursue school activities or sports or gymnastics or dance,” said Robert, “but she loves racing and wants to be at the track.”
With her first Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School coursework completed, Autumn is already eagerly planning her return. “I want her to go back again in six months so she can learn more,” confirmed Robert, who understands the importance of knowledge when it comes to racing at 170+ mph. “Just about everyone who has attended from John Force’s family has become Rookie of the Year, and I give Frank Hawley a lot of credit for preparing us for that.”
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
In drag racing, Tripp Shumake’s name is synonymous with success. A member of both the Cragar Five-Second Club and Crane Cams Funny Car 250-mph Club, a two-time NHRA Funny Car national event winner, and the fourth man in history to drive a Funny Car over 250 mph, Tripp never hesitated to pursue his dreams. Now, with the help of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, Tripp’s son, Travis, is following in his father’s footsteps as he pursues his own drag racing career while also seeking to be the first openly gay pilot of a 10,000+ horsepower Nitro Funny Car.
Although Travis only saw Tripp race a handful of times as his father’s career was already well established before he was born in 1984, he got to enjoy witnessing the celebrity status that came with his father’s achievements. “I always knew he was famous, and as a kid I remember it being normal to just walk behind the ropes and into someone’s pit and trailer which other fans would consider a VIP experience,” Travis recalled of his youth spent hanging out with legends like John Force and Frank Hawley.
Travis was destined to find his niche in racing, just like his father, and began chasing speed when he was young. “My dad wanted to bond with me, so we started racing shifter karts when I was 12,” shared Travis, now 36 years old, of the memories the men made together. Tragically, though, Tripp lost his life in 1999 when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his motorcycle near the family’s home in Arizona.
After such a devastating loss, Travis stopped pursuing his karting career but still had a strong love for drag racing. He had loved spending long nights in the garage with his dad working on Paula Martin’s Funny Car, and toyed with the idea of rekindling his involvement in the sport.
“I always knew this was going to be a thing, it was just a question of when,” he asserted confidently. While at the track in Gainesville, Florida, in the spring of 2020, Travis was inspired by hearing some friends reminisce about his father and he became more motivated to reconnect with that side of his heritage. However, one of those conversations also coincided with the question of how to bring more diversity and inclusion to drag racing. “We were talking about getting five drivers to put a small rainbow sticker on their car in June for Pride month and I said… or I could just become the first gay drag racer and do it myself. The decision had been made!”
A few short days later, Travis had put a plan in motion with an eventual goal of racing Nitro Funny Cars. To start, he contacted his father’s longtime friend and two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion, Frank Hawley, and arranged to attend Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in May of 2021 to obtain his NHRA Super Comp license.
“It was a wonderful experience overall and the entire class of 16 students was very supportive of one other,” said Travis, who especially enjoyed the biomechanics lessons and visual acuity tests that were a part of his studies at the School as well as different techniques to focus his mind. “Frank taught me that simple isn’t the same as easy and that the most skilled part of driving a fast car is when it’s at its slowest speeds.”
Travis showed tremendous talent during his time at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and clocked consistently quick reaction times, just like his father used to do. Moving forward with his plan of one day piloting a Nitro Funny Car, he returned to the School to make his first passes in a true Funny Car and obtain his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car license.
On June 15, Travis traveled from his home in New York City and arrived at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park ready to get down to business. His first challenge was simply learning how to get into the Funny Car itself, as his 6’4” height made it a bit of a challenge – especially while fully dressed in a fire suit, helmet, HANS device, and other accessories.
“Firing up the car for the first time, though, now that was exciting. Sitting behind the engine and seeing the first puffs of smoke come out of the headers was one of the things I’ve waited my whole life to experience,” noted the man about his drag racing bucket list.
Getting to spend a full day working one-on-one with Frank Hawley, instead of in a shared classroom environment with the Super Comp course, was instrumental to Travis’s triumphs during his Funny Car experience. From staging to launching and learning to control the center-steer machine to the 1,000-foot mark and finally popping the parachute for the first time, Travis couldn’t stop smiling.
“My biggest challenge was keeping the car in the groove. Frank kept telling me not to wait until half-track to start steering, but the first one or two seconds I’d get thrown back in the seat and the clutch dust would come up and everything was vibrating so it was almost over by the time I felt fully in control,” laughed the rookie racer.
By day’s end, Travis had successfully completed his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car licensure and was already planning his return to continue pursuing his NHRA Nitro Funny car credentials as well.
“Over the years, we’ve had many second-generation drivers come through the school, but having Tripp and Susie Shumake’s son Travis attend was really special. Maybe the ability to drive race cars is genetic, because Travis did a great job,” shared Hawley, who remembers his good friend and Travis’s father as one of the best Funny Car drivers of all time.
“Driving one of these cars is a skill, and I’m going to continue to develop that so I can pursue my Nitro career,” affirmed Travis, who has a goal of competing in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series while making history as the first openly gay Nitro Funny Car driver. “We’re doing this y’all, so get on board!”
By day, Travis works as an executive at the NYC-based Clinton Foundation nonprofit organization and has tremendous experience in fundraising, public relations, brand management, and media/marketing. The skills that he has developed so solidly during his professional career, coupled with his strengths as an LGBTQ+ activist, will undoubtedly aid him as he pursues financial backing and partnerships for his drag racing initiative.
“This is an opportunity to bring both the LGBTQ+ dollar and fans into drag racing. People in the sport aren’t against it, there just hasn’t been an opportunity to show support before, so I am taking on the challenge,” he shared. “Drag racing has always been ahead of the curve in diversity, so this just feels like another logical milestone to accomplish before other racing leagues, like we always do.”
Travis’s experiences at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, and throughout his journey towards competing at the highest level of the sport, have allowed him to deepen his understanding of and passion for drag racing that shaped his relationship with his father.
“I wish he could be here to see me doing this, but, if he was, I think I’d have already been doing it years ago,” added Travis who is excited to explore the genetic connection between him and his father. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep that quick Shumake foot on the throttle through the lights, just like he used to do, with a little less fire and a lot more speed to continue his legacy.”
For the first time in a couple of decades, Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing school will be visiting the famed Famoso Raceway. This October, Hawley and his team will bring their show to the historic Bakersfield raceway.
“Years ago, when we first started the school, our first road trip away from our home track in Gainesville, FL was to Bakersfield,” said school founder Frank Hawley. “The track has such amazing history. When I was a kid, I had pictures on my bedroom wall of all the famous drivers of the era racing at the March Meet in Bakersfield. This is one of the longest operating dragstrips in the country and we’re excited to be holding classes there.” said Hawley.
The Bowser family has kept pace with the speeds of today’s race cars and has continued to make improvements to the facility through the years. “I think we have one of the best racing surfaces anywhere in the country,” said GM Blake Bowser. We run the March meet and the Hot Rod Reunion each year with some of the fastest Nostalgia TF and FCs in the world. We have to have a great facility for these racers. I remember hosting FHDRS here years ago and we are excited to have them back,” added Blake.
We will be offering both the 2-day SC/SG competition licensing course October 1-2 as well as the fun Dragster Adventure program on October 3. “I can’t wait to visit our California friends again,” said Hawley.
So whether you want to earn your license, improve your skills, check something off your “Bucket List”, or just want to “drive a dragster” in the Dragster Adventure program, give our guys a call with your questions and to register! If you have a group you’d like to schedule something for, give us a call and we can look for a date that works with everyone’s schedule. The Alcohol class dates are scheduled on request, and we are booking those a month or two out, so call if you’re ready to upgrade your license or just need some additional time in the car.
Lots of class dates & locations on our website at www.frankhawley.com!
Paul Shields, 904-472-6312, email@example.com
Jeff Arend, 909-973-8279, firstname.lastname@example.org
Summit Racing Equipment Fulfills Racing Dreams at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
For almost forty years, Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School has been the primary leader in racing instruction and entertainment for aspiring professionals, thrill-seekers enthusiasts, and everyone in between. Summit Racing Equipment has been involved with the School since 2004 and, thanks to Summit’s support of sportsman-level racing, Frank Hawley’s has been able to make drag racing dreams come true for tens of thousands of speed students.
Similarly, the World’s Speed Shop®, Summit Racing Equipment has provided high-performance parts to its customers at fair prices with fast shipping and outstanding customer service since 1968. The company first partnered with Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School nearly two decades ago as a way to continue its support of the enthusiast and racing communities.
“We value what Frank [Hawley] and his team are doing by helping folks learn to race or take the next step to go faster in their careers. For some, it’s a bucket list-type item, but for everyone, they’re fulfilling dreams,” said Jim Greenleaf, Motorsports and Events Manager at Summit Racing Equipment and an employee of the company for 25 years. “Frank is improving drag racing, and we are proud to be a part of that by supporting the school as well as its students and racers.”
Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School creates a safe environment in which its students can learn while also promoting the sport itself in a professional manner. “I’ve attended some of Frank’s classes and I was impressed with how he presents the materials while keeping students focused, and how he progresses them on-track with each pass to safely grow their skills,” added Greenleaf, a sportsman racer himself who has spent countless Saturday nights blasting down the dragstrip and knows firsthand just how thrilling a trip on the track can be.
Instilling confidence and developing competence are core focuses of the School, as its curriculums are geared towards developing the next generation of drag racers. Summit Racing Equipment supports these same goals by offering a discount on its products to all of Hawley’s graduates, and also by endowing the School with fire jackets and pants, as well as other safety equipment and items that attendees may need.
“Working with Summit over the years has been wonderful,” affirmed Hawley, who trusts Summit as the School’s “go-to” source for almost everything needed to operate its programs and keep its race cars running perfectly. “Summit’s folks understand the needs of the customer. Racers need the right products at the best price and shipped fast. Summit does this better than anyone.”
The relationship has been such a successful one, in fact, that Summit plans to continue to work with Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in the years to come. “Frank’s a great representative for Summit, and for drag racing,” shared Greenleaf of the School’s founder, two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion Frank Hawley. “We love giving back to racers through contingencies or however else we can, and Frank’s School is a big piece of that puzzle.”
Summit Racing Equipment has a longstanding history of supporting drag racers at both the national and sportsman levels. “We’re going on roughly twenty years with the IHRA Summit SuperSeries and we’ve got the NHRA Summit Racing Series for bracket racers,” Greenleaf stated of just two of the many programs the company offers. Summit also sponsors the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, held annually at the iconic Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. “We love giving racers a chance to race at their local tracks and go on to compete at a divisional level, and even to advance to the national stage where they can be crowned a champion all based on them having started locally.”
Whether it’s a lifelong racer finally succeeding in their goal of winning big, or a rookie whose natural talent takes them to the next level, or a husband-and-wife team competing together at something they both love, the stories that arise as a result of racing are what motivate the Summit team to not only continue their support, but to also expand it through new initiatives.
Ultimately, Summit Racing Equipment isn’t just a supplier of performance parts – it’s a supplier of the parts and pieces needed to turn dreams into reality, and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School is proud to be partnered in making that happen. For those looking to enjoy the ultimate driving experience, Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School is the most respected and most visited of its kind in the world… all thanks to companies like Summit Racing Equipment.
Once again, FIVE of the NHRA World Champions were our graduates! It’s amazing to know that the Frank Hawley School played a part in all of their careers. Congratulations to these great Champions! Steve Torrence– NHRA TF; Matt Hagan – NHRA FC; Erica Enders – NHRA Pro Stock; Stevie “Fast” Jackson – NHRA Pro Mod; and Megan Meyer – NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster. Additionally we’d like to congratulate Mike Bucher – NHRA North Central Region Top Alcohol Dragster Champion and Top Fuel driver Justin Ashley – NHRA Rookie of the year!
In a year that has been like no other, we are very grateful that you put your trust in us in 2020! We’re thankful for all the friendships and relationships we have made and we look forward to making more in 2021. Thank you for your support and patronage of the School! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year!
A Blessed Christmas and the Happiest of Holiday Seasons from Frank, Lana, and our team!
Luke 2:9-11 – And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them…And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
**Christmas card art by Jim Brando
New tracks added in 2021, so check our website for the confirmed dates and a class near you!
Contact Paul or Jeff for information on any of our programs!
Paul Shields, email@example.com, 866-480-7223 x102, 904-472-6312 c
Jeff Arend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-480-7223 x103, 909-973-8279 c
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School! This has been a year like no other and we are very thankful for all of you! We thank you for your patronage at our programs, your trust in us, and for your kind words and referrals! Without you folks and your support, we would not be able to do what we do! Please join us in praying for our country.
Blessings to you and yours at Thanksgiving and throughout the coming year!
From Frank & Lana Hawley and the entire crew!
P.S. Check out our website for the class locations currently confirmed. We’re still waiting on a few more tracks to work out their schedules for 2021, so please be patient.
It’s been several years since students have roared down the quarter-mile at Virginia Motorsports Park. “We always loved running classes at Virginia Motorsports Park” said Frank Hawley. “It’s a great track and good location for all of our customers on the East Coast. Scheduling classes this year has been challenging, to say the least. But things are getting better. We’ve run classes this summer in Gainesville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Columbus, Denver, Woodburn and now we’re adding Richmond.” continued Hawley.
The School plans to offer the 2-day NHRA licensing program on September 24 & 25. You can earn your competition license in our Super Comp Dragster, Super Gas Door Car or bring your own race car to class. This class includes Frank’s Personal Performance lectures, too. The popular Dragster Adventure program will be held on September 26. This is an incredibly fun program for everyone where drivers get to race side-by-side in 130 mph dragsters in the Dragster Challenge. If you’ve always wanted to get behind the wheel of a real drag race car, the Dragster Adventure/Challenge program is for you!
Contact Jeff Arend or Paul Shields with any questions or to register. You can also purchase the Dragster Adventure/Challenge on-line at www.frankhawley.com. Seats are limited in all programs and pre-registration is required.
We’ll be working on 2021 dates soon, but check out all the dates/locations coming up this fall. *Remember dates for the Alcohol Funny Car & Dragster are scheduled on request.
Jeff Arend, email@example.com, 909-973-8279 cell
Paul Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-472-6312 cell
Back in 1987 Terry Rodgers, a financial advisor and drag racing fan, attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School as a gift for his birthday, and drove one of the School’s Super Comp Dragsters. “Those 2 days with Frank Hawley was like a re-charge for my long-term career goals! Learning how to focus, block out the enormous noise right behind your head, stay calm and most of all make correct decisions in tenths of a second, was an incredible experience,” said Terry. The experience at Hawley’s School so impressed him that Terry enrolled his son Richard in the School as a graduation present from Law School.
“I was able to complete the Super Comp course 25 years ago, as a college graduation gift from my parents and I still have pictures from the school hanging on my office wall today. So, when our son Kevin recently graduated from college, my wife and I thought it would be a great idea to pass down the tradition and we were proud to be able to give the same course to our son for his graduation gift. It is an experience that creates a memory for a lifetime,” said Richard.
“When my parents told me I was getting to go to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School I was super excited. I knew getting to drive a dragster and continue the tradition would be a special experience. Being able to listen to Frank’s knowledge and experience during the class was a great opportunity itself. Not only do his lessons apply to driving a race car, but they can also be applied to everyday life,” said Kevin, the youngest member of the family.
“We’ve had many second-generation drivers attend the School but this is a milestone, 3 generations!” said Hawley. “It’s quite a compliment to have Mother’s and Father’s believe in our programs so much to keep sending their kids. We feel very blessed to have earned their trust.” Said Hawley.
Many thanks to the Rodgers Family for letting us help you make these lifelong memories!