Written by Ainsley Jacobs
In 1999, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels joined Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School as its official tire supplier. While the relationship between the two entities has grown over the decades, the Mickey Thompson team knows the importance of honoring its hardworking employees and does so with an annual tradition of sending its staff to participate in the School’s Dragster Adventure Challenge.
Specifically designed as a fun course to give enthusiasts the chance to drive a dragster and compete side-by-side without the requirements of becoming a licensed racer, Frank Hawley’s Dragster Adventure Challenge is available both to the general public and to corporations at various tracks throughout the year.
In the past, Frank Hawley’s has hosted groups from John Force Racing, In-N-Out Burger, Aeromotive, Mac Tools, Icon International, and even the United States Navy Seals, but Mickey Thompson brings a group every year to get in on the action. In 2021, M/T’s guests of honor enjoyed a mid-July day at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“We’ve hosted the Dragster Adventure Challenge for M/T employees and customers for years. It’s the first opportunity many of these folks have ever had to get behind the wheel of a dragster and blast down the quarter-mile. They absolutely love it!” noted Hawley, who enjoys making the event a special experience.
“We bring people who usually never get out of the office – from accounting to sales to warehouse crew and even human resources – everyone at Mickey Thompson gets to go and be introduced to high performance,” added Jason Moulton, Director of Motorsports at Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels. “It’s great to see people get so excited and see the looks on their faces when they make a run for the first time. Even people who have raced elsewhere have a blast!”
Driving full-sized, competition-style cars capable of going 0-60 MPH in 3 seconds and surpassing speeds of 130 MPH in the quarter-mile was thrilling for the participants, but perhaps the pinnacle of the day was the competition itself. “We did a chip draw to pair everyone fairly, and everyone had fun staging against a competitor, practicing their reaction times, and seeing who would be the first to the finish,” Moulton elaborated of the memorable capstone event. “Our winner was Jeremy Jacobs who has worked closely with me over the years on product development, tread design, and tire modeling, and the runner-up was my brother, Jeremy Moulton – a proud moment for me personally!”
While Moulton didn’t partake in the 2021 festivities as he opted to spend the day on the sidelines as a spectator, he did go through the program a little over a decade ago. “It was my first experience driving an automatic transmission-equipped vehicle, and a dragster, on the dragstrip,” laughed the man who had exclusively raced manual transmission cars for fifteen years prior. “It was a ton of fun, and Frank gives such great feedback. I still carry with me today tips that he gave me all those years ago; he truly loves to pass his knowledge along to others.”
Although the Dragster Adventure Challenge is focused on fun, the partnership between Mickey Thompson and Frank Hawley’s is one that both businesses take seriously. “M/T approached us years ago about trying their tires and we loved them,” said Hawley. “Mickey Thompson’s tires provide our customers with traction, reliability, and performance.” All of the racecars at the School roll on M/T rubber, and, as each set of tires sees plenty of passes, there’s tons of valuable information and data constantly being gathered.
“It’s an honor for us to be part of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. Frank’s championship pedigree and the great feedback he gives us creates a strong synergy,” stated Moulton, who predicts the 20+ year relationship will continue well into the future. “Plus, when students attend, they experience Mickey Thompson’s products and can trust our tires when they move forward with their racing or performance driving goals.”
For Frank Hawley’s, the advantage of working with Mickey Thompson means reliable performance and excellent value – all neatly packaged into a tire that is produced by an American-based company that values the true spirit of the sport of drag racing.
The Mickey Thompson Dragster Challenge days are always exciting, but this time we were fortunate to introduce some special celebrity guests to the thrill and excitement of drag racing! With Mickey Thompson distributors from Freedom Tire, Les Schwab Tire Centers and Keystone Automotive competing against special celebrity guests Doug and Brad DeBerti from the Discovery Show “Twin Turbos“, and Eric Barron who drives the Mickey Thompson Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series truck, you just knew it was going to be a fun and special day!
In the celebrity guest final Brad DeBerti had an almost perfect .001 reaction time to take out a red lighting Eric Barron. In the distributors final, Frank Hernandez had a great light to take out Scott Borden to win the trophy and bragging rights of the drivers from Les Schwab Tire Centers.
All in all, it was a great day of team building and drag racing. “Frank Hawley and his team of professionals have done it again! Said Kirk Fenn, National Accounts and Business Development from Mickey Thompson. Our guests were treated to an amazing day of learning how to drive these dragsters.”
The School has been relying on the high quality and consistent performance of Mickey Thompson drag slicks for all our race cars for many years now.” “As the premiere drag racing school in the country we travel to a lot of different locations and we see all types of track surfaces and temperatures.” “We know we can rely on Mickey Thompson slicks to give us the traction, durability and performance for all our students,” said Frank Hawley.
Contact us about a fun day for your group! The Dragster Adventure Challenge is great for team building, employee reward, customer promotion, sponsor day, etc. Call Jeff Arend x103 or Paul Shields x102 at 866-480-7223 to discuss providing a most memorable day for
your group. Private group events are scheduled on demand, as are the 200 mph class dates in the Funny Car or Dragster. Information on all the programs offered by the School, class dates & locations can be found on our website at www.frankhawley.com
By Brandon W. Mudd
The Frank Hawley Drag Racing School, led by the two-time NHRA Funny Car champion, has announced the continuation of its relationship with the Mickey Thompson Tire Company, an organization built by an equally-important figure in racing history. Mickey Thompson Tires and the school first worked together in the mid-1990s when Hawley was based in Pomona, Calif., and has spent 20 years creating the top drag racing school in the world.
Begun when Mickey Thompson Tires Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ken Warner joined forces with Hawley at Pomona, the partnership has evolved into a pairing that has seen incredible benefits for both sides. Kirk Fenn of the Mickey Thompson National Accounts Business Development Department, said the relationship has had incredible rewards for them.
“Frank was looking for the best products when he was going through his suppliers with his cars for the school and it was the perfect fit for us and for Frank,” Fenn said. “It allows anyone who’s going through for certification to be exposed to the best tires that are out there for drag racing for those classes and those categories. “
“Not to mention it works very well for us for when we’re doing relationship building with clients or customers. It really helps give them some hands-on experience to better sell and speak to the product when they’re marketing it out there.”
Hawley, an NHRA Nationals winner in both Funny Car and Top Fuel as the pilot of the legendary Chi-Town Hustler, said Mickey Thompson Tires has been an amazing partner for the school.
“It’s always important to have great traction and a good handling race car but it’s even more important when you are learning to drive. We’ve trusted Mickey Thompson Tires at our school for years!”
The most successful display for the two entities has been the Mickey Thompson Dragster Adventure. The program provides training at various drag strips across the country with the students racing in a Frank Hawley Drag Racing School dragster at the end of the day.
“We usually do two a year and I’ve been doing that for almost eight years and managing it for the last year and a half,” Fenn said. “We have nothing but rave reviews. People coming into it kind of skeptical in some cases, kind of ‘What is this all about?’ and after they make their first pass, they get out and get their helmet off…they’re like a little kid who’s just had their first exposure to a roller coaster.”
The Adventure has seen some amazing highlights, from its most recent winner Floyd Carter at Fontana, Calif., April 21, to a group of Navy SEALs last spring. While working with the SEALs is an unforgettable experience for both parties, the primary goal for Mickey Thompson is to provide education to customers and staff. The company also has a sizable involvement in off-road racing and provides an all-new experience to staff members who are unfamiliar with drag racing, although that’s not always the case.
”Floyd was a great example because he runs a speed shop so he was very in touch with the product on the drag racing side,” Fenn said, “but yet, was still absolutely floored by the experience. We go into it with a high-level objective, but we fine tune it based on what we want to get out of it and how the partnership is going to grow together.”
At the end of the day, success is measured in profit and the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School has definitely provided the opportunity for the Mickey Thompson Tire Company to expand both its reach and its customer loyalty.
“It certainly provides more of a hands-on takeaway,” Fenn said. “The more familiar our customers, dealers, and the end users become with a product, the more receptive they are to talk about it and essentially, sell it. That tends to be a positive take away and going back to the Fontana event, we had customers there who have since ramped up there overall volume of Mickey Thompson product.
“That’s an easy metric to see that we’ve accomplished our goal.”
Much like the man himself, Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School has been to race tracks everywhere, forming partnerships with the biggest names in motorsports. One of the school’s long-time relationships is with Mickey Thompson Performance Tires, founded in 1963 by Mickey Thompson and Gene McMannis. Both drivers held numerous records in various forms of racing and that desire for speed continues throughout the company today.
Recently at a Frank Hawley Drag Racing School event for Mickey Thompson customers at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA several customers and special guests got a chance to get behind the wheel of Hawley’s Adventure Dragsters for some ‘side-by-side’ racing action.
“Over the years Mickey Thompson Tires has entertained hundreds of folks at Frank Hawley’s,” said Mickey Thompson sales support/training specialist Kirk Fenn. “The thrill of racing dragsters provides our guests with memories that will last a lifetime. We love the relationship we have with Frank Hawley’s.”
After completing practice runs in the morning drivers were paired off for eliminations. The eventual winner was Paul Giddings from SoCal Auto Style in Wildomar, CA.
“This was one of the most exciting events I’ve been to,” said Giddings. “Even a month later I’m still showing friends and family the videos we took. My heart was pounding as we staged the cars for the final. I was thrilled when I saw my win light come on!”
“I would recommend this to anyone with a driver’s license,” Giddings said. “I have always loved cars and this was one more check off the bucket list.”
Check out some previous Challenge Winners HERE!
To book your own adventure, visit www.frankhawley.com to see when we’ll be at a track near you or contact us to schedule your own group day at 866-480-7223! Follow us on our official page on Facebook at facebook.com/FrankHawleysDragRacingSchool!