Recently a group of corporate executives got their first introduction to NHRA Drag Racing courtesy of John Force Racing, Just Marketing, Inc. and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. The group attended and competed in Frank Hawley’s Dragster Adventure Challenge at the Strip in Las Vegas. The private session included members of a number of America’s top companies.
“We are constantly working to grow NHRA drag racing as well as our race teams. In order to grow our sport you’ve got to get people excited about it and I couldn’t think of any better way to do that than to get them behind the wheel of a dragster,” said Force. “Hawley and I have worked together for years and I don’t know anyone else I’d want to represent John Force Racing and our sport more than Frank Hawley and his team.”
“It’s always a lot of fun to work with John,” said Hawley. “John’s entire team was there – John, Robert, Courtney and Brittany. Each one of them pitched in and helped make this a memorable day for all of the participants. Everyone was thrilled when they got the chance to get behind the wheel and blast down the track.”
Following rides in the school’s 2-seat race cars, each participant made practice runs in the school’s Adventure Dragsters prior to competing in the side-by-side Dragster Adventure Challenge.
“I was impressed, but not surprised by how competitive these folks were. They absolutely loved the side-by-side racing,” said Hawley. “It was a great day that would not have been possible without the great planning and organization of the folks at Just Marketing. They handled everything from a cocktail reception the night before to road signs and decorations in the suites! They are a very well organized marketing group and a pleasure to work with.”
Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School operates at tracks across the country. If you or your group is interested in the Adventure of a lifetime, check out the school at www.frankhawley.com or give them a call at 866-480-7223.
By Jeff Smith
Photos by Mike Morgan and Jeff Smith
For 28 years Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School has been the leader in drag race driving instruction and licensing. Thousands of bracket and class racers and many of today’s Pros are on the graduate list.
This year the school has added a new program, the Dragster Adventure. The Dragster Adventure puts drivers behind the wheel of a real competition-styled 230” wheelbase dragster and lets them race in “side-by-side” competition!
Unlike the cars in Hawley’s well-known “Licensing Programs” which require a medical and two days of instruction, the Adventure Dragsters are powered by ZZ454 Chevy big blocks which are a milder version of the school’s 572 c.i. competition engines. However, even the ZZ454s are a little too powerful and to keep the cars away from 9-second runs, as per NHRA licensing requirements, the engines are throttled back to produce 10-second, 130 mph performances. But don’t think for a minute that these cars aren’t fast…they’re really fast!
The design of the cars, allows students to get up to speed in a half-day course and if they choose to, enter into ‘side-by-side’ eliminations in the afternoon. So when Frank invited me to do some racing at the Media Challenge, I jumped at the chance.
The race was at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA which was re-opened this spring. I joined a number of other journalists for the one-day course offered by Hawley. The event was to promote both the re-opening of the Auto Club Dragway and the return of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to Southern California.
To add a little excitement to the race and to give some folks much needed advice, Hawley invited John Force Racing driver Robert Hight and Don Schumacher Racing driver Jack Beckman (a veteran Hawley school instructor), as guest instructors. Nitro FC racer Jeff Arend, a sales rep for Hawley, joined in to help coach the media.
It all sounded like great fun, but these are very quick dragsters and just like you wouldn’t put a neophyte in an aircraft with no instruction, the same is true with these dragsters. First, we spent an hour or so with Frank in the classroom going over the intricacies of how to drive his dragster, then we moved outside where we were fitted with helmets and the all-important safety gear and driving suits. Finally, we learned how to get in and out of that tight cockpit so at least we looked like a 20-year veteran.
Once we had the basic instructions committed to memory, it was time to drive the cars. We first had to perform a burnout, stage the car, react to the ‘Tree’ and make an 1/8th-mile pass. Once we’d managed that successfully under Frank’s and the rest of the coaches watchful eyes, we returned to make a full quarter-mile run and prepare for qualifying, which would be based on Reaction Time.
The format for the race was a .500 Pro Tree, and a handicapped start with dial-ins. 5.0 Mustang and Super Ford magazine’s KJ Jones hit a perfect 0.000 reaction time to take the top spot in qualifying. On the other end of the field was Car Craft’s Douglas Glad who red lighted and therefore found himself at the bottom of the ladder. Using a Pro ladder, this placed Jones and Glad against each other in the first round. The rest of the field also paired up based on their qualifying times.
Although we were given instructions on dialing the cars in, each participant had to choose their own dial-ins. There were a few variables to consider including the drivers weight, the order the cars ran, temperature changes and more. Both Beckman and Hight helped their respective teams figure out how to negotiate the dial-ins based on each car’s previous best e.t.
The first matchup promised to be exciting as Glad had to take on top qualifier Jones. Both reaction times were within 0.005-second giving KJ the ever-so-slight advantage. KJ slowed only 0.008 against his 10.62 dial-in which seemed close enough to deliver the win, but Glad nailed his, running right on his 10.78 dial to take the win. First round also saw several racers forget to pull their shift lever back into First gear after the burnout, which meant the car left in high gear. Among the victims of this oversight were the author, Henry De Los Santos, and at least one other. Racer Alex Rogeo looked good in her first pass with an impressive 10.45 on her 10.44 dial-in. This was impressive given all the variables, but she has lots of bracket racing experience so she knows the bracket game well.
Hot Rod’s Elana Sherr transitioned to the second round as did Camaro Performers’ Nick Licata, Vette’s Steven Rupp, Speed Scene Live’s Donnie Couch, and Car Craft’s Douglas Glad. Alex beat Elana in the all-girl race when Elana broke out after pulling off an excellent reaction time advantage, Couch put Calin Head out with a great start, and Rupp beat his buddy in an in-house duel when Licata redlighted.
For the semi-final round, Glad met Alex the Car Girl. Glad nailed the ‘Tree but slowed against his dial-in giving Alex the win light when she ran dead on her 10.32 dial-in. That produced the closest race of the event with a 0.023-second margin of victory. On the other side of the ladder, Couch bested Rupp when the ‘Vette editor gave away a 0.063-second advantage on the starting line when he slowed against his dial-in. This gave us the final round of Alex The Car Girl versus Couch The Big Guy. Couch got the slower dial-in head start and both cut lights within 0.016 with Couch taking the advantage. Alex had been living on the edge of her dial-in all day and the gamble finally caught up with her when she broke out by a scant 0.020-second but it was enough to give Couch the win and the champion’s trophy.
Hawley’s Dragster Adventure program is an absolute blast. It is the only place where you can learn how to drive a 130 mph dragster and race it in competition in one single day. Hawley takes this program around the country to various tracks and it’s the perfect way to spend a day with your friends or for a company outing.
Check the school’s website www.frankhawley.com and see when they’ll be in your area.
Thanks to the Hawley’s and the staff for a great day!
NHRA Nitro Funny Car driver Jeff Arend has joined Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School team as a Program Sales Representative. Jeff will be working with 18 year school veteran Paul Shields in a position for which Jeff is uniquely qualified. Jeff’s entire career has been devoted to drag racing. He has worked as a mechanic, instructor, sales rep and race car driver…a position he currently holds as driver for the “Grime Boss” NHRA Nitro Funny Car campaigned by drag race legend Jim Dunn.
Jeff Arend and Frank Hawley go way back. Both natives of Ontario, Canada, Jeff and Frank grew up racing at the same drag strips in Southern Ontario and both fulfilled their childhood dreams of one day getting a shot in the “big show”, driving NHRA Nitro Funny Cars.
When Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School opened its west coast program back in 1996 Frank needed experienced, skilled drag racing mechanics and drivers to maintain the school cars and instruct the classes. Jeff Arend was one of the first people he called.
“I had known Jeff for many years and was very familiar with his skill set,” said Hawley. “I needed someone that could tune and maintain our Alcohol cars as well as instruct our drivers. Jeff could do it all,” continued Hawley. “I met with Jeff, offered him a position and he accepted.”
About the same time Jeff signed on, another “up and coming” driver came to work for the school. Current Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car driver Jack Beckman joined Jeff. “We had quite a staff,” said Hawley!
When the School’s lease at Pomona was not renewed several years ago the west coast staff continued building their own individual drag racing careers but the relationships and friendships stayed intact.
“We are enjoying a time of growth at our racing school,” said Hawley. “We have new programs we are offering and new race tracks we will be attending. Jeff will be a great asset to our team and a great help to our customers. He understands every aspect of our business and of course everything about drag racing. Jeff will be able to help answer anyone’s questions and guide them to the perfect program,” said Hawley.
“I’m excited about working with the school again,” said Jeff. “I love talking with folks about drag racing and my job is wide ranging. On one call I’ll be talking with a guy that wants to come out and race his friends in our “side-by-side” Dragster Adventure, the next call I’ll be helping a future racer decide on the right direction he or she should take with their racing career and then I’ll be talking with a company executive or owner about a corporate day for their sales force,” said Jeff.
“The fact that I’m currently racing a Nitro Funny Car on the NHRA Mello Yellow series is a real bonus for me and our customers. I’ll be at every major drag strip in the country this year and although I get very busy sometimes helping the crew with the car, it will provide a great opportunity for folks to stop by our pit and talk about their racing plans and how Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School may help them achieve their goals or fulfill their dreams,” said Jeff.
Contact Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School at www.frankhawley.com or 866-480-7223!
Paul Shields x102, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Arend x103, email@example.com
Click on the link below to read about what we’ve been up to so far this year! It’s been very busy indeed!
Frank Hawley School News – March 2014
We have lots more exciting things going on! More updates coming soon!
Contact us to schedule your Adventure or License Course!
For all you folks who have been patiently waiting for us to get a Houston date – well, here it is! We’ll be at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, TX conducting our popular Super Comp/Super Gas class on April 16-17, 2014.
The two-day Licensing Class allows drivers of all backgrounds the opportunity to earn their NHRA competition driver’s license in the school’s 572/720R Chevrolet-powered Super Comp Dragsters or Super Gas Firebirds. Some drivers even obtain both licenses during the class. Current drivers can bring their own car to the course, too. The course also includes Hawley’s Personal Performance Development lectures.
You don’t need any previous racing experience to take the class,” continued Hawley. “In every class we’ve got drivers that have never raced sitting next to drivers that have won big money bracket races. It’s a great mix, with the rookies being able to benefit from some of the veterans’ backgrounds. But not everyone needs a license; some just do it for fun and excitement.”
The school will be heading to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, AZ at the end of February; back to Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, FL for class after the Gatornationals; to Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA for both the Super Comp & Super Gas class AND the new Dragster Adventure and Dragster Adventure Challenge; to Royal Purple Raceway and then to Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, MO.
To view our Super Class video or obtain more information on all available classes, dates and locations for Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, visit the school’s website – www.frankhawley.com – or call 866-480-7223 (Outside U.S. 678-804-8835). Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @Frankhawleydrs and YouTube!
We hope you have all had the opportunity to see our newly redone website, but if you haven’t, please check it out! You now have access to our calendar of dates and you can book the Dragster Adventure/Dragster Adventure Challenge on-line! We are also adding a video page, so watch for that. For anyone who would like to share some good video of their time at the school or grads in competition, please email the link to us so we can post it.
Speaking of video…We had a great time last week when John Spar, owner of ReplayXD visited our school here at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, FL. John, a long time friend and Tanner Stauss, a producer that works for John, spent two days shooting video of our cars in action. The video will be used for commercials at NHRA National events, our web site and other promotions.
They shot some of the most amazing video! At times they had as many as 10 cameras on a single car and the cameras were in very unusual locations. For one shot John put a camera on the race track a few hundred feet down the track and then proceeded to make a full power run…right over top of the camera! John is an experienced race car driver and multi-National Event winner and he did a great job as he put the center of the car dead on top of the camera at full speed!
Next week I’m heading to the Winternationals in Pomona, CA where we’ll be doing some media rides before the event and have a display also. Our new commercial will be running there on the Jumbotron during the event. Please stop by and say hello.
Remember to let all the adrenaline junkies you know that they can “Race Dragsters Side-by-Side” in the Dragster Adventure Challenge program starting in April at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA and other great race tracks listed on our website! Of course we’re continuing to run our popular Super Comp and Super Gas license programs too!
Frigid temperatures across the country didn’t stop students at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School from bringing in the New Year with a roar at the school’s annual “New Years” class held in Gainesville, FL. Blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the drivers that made the trip south. Following two days of tire smoking action and over 70 quarter mile runs, a new group of NHRA competition licensed drivers will start the 2014 season on the right track.
Classes will continue here at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville for the next several weeks and then we’ll be headed west for Phoenix, AZ. This will be the school’s first trip ever to the Phoenix track.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the new name for the facility in Phoenix, previously called Firebird Raceway. The raceway is under new management. I’ve been talking with the folks there just this week and I think racers, fans and our students will be quite impressed when they see the racetrack. They have a new concrete racing surface, new state of the art Compulink timing system and many other improvements. Our Phoenix class will run Feb 25/26, just after the National Event and before the Division event which will give our students the chance to take in some NHRA racing action in addition to driving our cars.
The school will be back in Gainesville after our Phoenix trip with classes in March following the Gatornationals. This class is always popular with students looking to escape the long winter, travel south to watch the Gatornationals and enjoy some race car driving at the school.
Then it’s off to Fontana, California for the school’s debut at Auto Club Dragway. We are so excited about the re-opening of the drag strip at Fontana! Our classes begin at Fontana in April with our competition licensing courses and our new Adventure Dragster course which offers ‘side-by-side’ racing. The Fontana, California track will be a regular visit on our 2014 tour.
In the next few weeks watch for updates on our new race cars and new transporters!
We are very grateful for all the friendships and relationships we have made in the past and we look forward to making many more! Thank you for your support and patronage! We wish here you a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with Peace and Happiness!
Merry Christmas from Frank and Lana!
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.
I got a call from “Big Daddy” Don Garlits himself, telling me that I’ll be inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame next spring! This is “very cool”, especially when you read the list of previous inductees! Check out my letter! Hall of Fame 2014
The banquet is Thursday, March 13, 2014 during the Gatornationals. So if you’re going to be in town, contact the Garlits Museum and get some tickets. Hope to see you there!
Hello Folks! We’re back at home in Gainesville, Florida for Fall and Winter classes and I wanted to announce some great pricing for our Super Classes! At $1495 that’s a savings of $500! The weather this time of year is awesome! Sunny, low humidity and in the 70s and 80s. It’s a perfect time to visit us, get ready for next year…and have some fun. Super Comp/Super Gas class dates/Gainesville, FL: November 12-13, 2013; December 9-10, 2013; December 30-31, 2013; January 16-17, 2014; February 11-12, 2014; March 18-19, 2014 (after Gatornationals). Give us a call at 866-480-7223! I look forward to seeing you! Frank Hawley www.frankhawley.com