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.”
Last week was the debut of the John Force Racing built 2018 Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. John Force Racing’s developmental driver, Austin Prock, was the first to make laps in the beautiful state of the art Camaro. Frank and his crew worked side by side with Austin and couldn’t have been happier. “We have been working with Austin for the past year and it’s been great to see him develop as a race car driver! Austin is very focused, just like his Dad Jimmy, and we look forward to seeing him in a John Force Racing Fuel Funny Car down the road.” said Frank Hawley
“We at John Force Racing have always relied on Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to get our drivers started off with the proper training. The knowledge that can be gained from the school is priceless and definitely gives our current and future drivers a leg up on the competition.” said Robert Hight, GM at John Force Racing. Robert added, “Even though I have won 2 Championships, Frank Hawley is still the first person I call for advice when I need some, and he is always there to help me out.”
“I had a blast working with Frank, like I always do. In my mind if you want to become a better racecar driver, there is no better school to go to. Frank’s constructive criticism is what makes the difference, if you listen to him. So, if you just want to go somewhere, make laps and not learn, this isn’t the place to go!” said Austin Prock
“I’m honored that John Force Racing has trusted us to work with all of their drivers over the years, it’s truly been a privilege,” said Hawley. “As Austin moves forward in his career he will get excellent guidance and advice from Robert and all of the JFR team drivers.”
“When we came up with this program, the idea was to make the transition to a Nostalgia Funny Car or NHRA Nitro Funny Car as easy as possible. The procedures for driving this car are almost identical to those type of cars and we feel that there is no better way to get prepared for that next step in your career. For those of you that like the dragsters better, we also have a Top Dragster set up the same way, so we have you covered.” added Frank Hawley.
Contact the school at 866-480-7223. And visit our website at www.frankhawley.com for information on all the programs we offer, class dates & locations! Pre-registration required in all classes and seats are limited. The Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster class dates are on-demand and most are not listed on our calendar.
Jeff Arend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-480-7223 x103
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By Abby Werner: Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School continues to be the best as they train two future NHRA competitors. Austin Prock and Jordan Vandergriff are currently going through a multi-year program with Frank Hawley’s and are excited about what their future in drag racing will bring.
Austin Prock is the 21 year old grandson of Tom Prock, a former NHRA Funny Car driver, and the son of Jimmy Prock, a crew chief for John Force Racing. Jimmy Prock led John Force to his 16th championship in 2013 and is currently the crew chief for Robert Hight’s Auto Club of California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. Austin has experience racing Sprint Cars and Midgets, and works on the JFR cars as well. He is part of John Force Racing’s driver development program.
“I’ve already been through Frank’s S/C program. Up next I’m gonna test in the School’s Alcohol Funny Car. We’re hoping to make some runs soon. We’re going to do several laps in that. And then once I get my license, I hope to start testing in a Nitro Funny Car,” explained Prock.
Jordan Vandergriff is the 22 year old grandson of Bob Vandergriff, the owner of Hedman Hedders, and the nephew of Bob Vandergriff Jr., a Top Fuel driver who has raced in the NHRA for over 20 years.
“It’s pretty exciting knowing guys like me and Austin Prock are the future of the NHRA. It’s amazing- I grew up going to the races, watching my uncle. I never thought that I would be the guy to be up next, and now that it’s happening, it’s surreal. Next up is the alcohol program. I am very excited. Hopefully I can win and carry on the family name,” said Vandergriff.
Both Prock and Vandergriff have already attended Hawley’s S/C and S/G program and agree that Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School is the best, and what they have already learned from Frank Hawley will be invaluable in their racing careers. Since Frank Hawley has trained many of the top competitors in the NHRA, they are each optimistic that the racing education they receive at Hawley’s will propel them to the top of the NHRA leaderboard.
“What I liked best about Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School was how Frank was one-on-one with each driver and after you made a lap he would take you back into the classroom and break down the run for you. Frank knew what mistakes you were gonna make before you even made them. It was cool how knowledgeable he was about the human body and your reaction times and your composure as a driver,” said Prock.
Prock and Vandergriff came to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to train from the best of the best. But the individual faith and support they have each received from Frank Hawley himself is another huge aspect of why they both loved the experience so much.
“Both of these young men come from strong racing families and are excellent examples of the future champions we train here at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. I’m excited to see what they will accomplish in their racing careers, and I look forward to working with them on their journey,” expressed Frank Hawley.
Our friends at John Force Racing put this video together for us after the Corporate Day we did for them in Las Vegas this summer.
Click on the video link below to view – you’ll love the ending with John and myself! Enjoy!
The Dragster Adventure Challenge with Side-by-Side Racing works great for a corporate day. There are lots of options and track locations available. Contact us and let us help you put together an unforgettable day for your company or group!
Then we’ll be heading to Seattle to do media rides for the 3rd Annual Ranier Cup with class the week following the NHRA O’Reilly Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
In between regular classes we’ve been having some fun working with Discovery Canada (full release soon) and Top Gear !
Attached is a short video produced by one of our grads from our June Super Comp licensing class at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA. It’s a very nice piece with some aerial shots from a ‘drone’ camera. Click on the following link to watch. Hope you like it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQvGlLct0lo
Here are some upcoming class dates – give us a call at 866-480-7223 with any questions or to schedule a date!
August 6-7 – Seattle, WA – SC/SG; August 19 – Gainesville, FL – TAFC; August 26 – Gainesville, FL – TAFC;
September 3-4 – Reading, PA SC/SG; September 5 – Reading, PA **Dragster Adventure;
September 23-24 – Gainesville, FL – SC/SG; October 10 – Fontana, CA **Dragster Adventure;
October 15-16 – Fontana, CA – SC/SG; October 17 – Fontana, CA **Dragster Adventure;
October 28 – Gainesville, FL – TD; November 4-5 – Gainesville, FL – SC/SG;
November 21 – Gainesville, FL **Dragster Adventure; December 2-3 – Gainesville, FL – SC/SG;
December 4-5 – Gainesville, FL – PSM; December 18-19 – Gainesville, FL – PSM
December 30-31 – Auto Plus Raceway, Gainesville, FL – SC/SG
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.