Since opening his drag racing school in 1985, Frank Hawley estimates about half of today’s competing drivers have passed through his school. Those drivers include John Force Racing drivers Robert Hight, Courtney and Brittany Force and Ashley Force Hood, former JFR driver and current crew chief Mike Neff, Alexis DeJoria, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown to name just a few.
Hawley has also had a couple of top-notch Funny Car drivers as instructors at his school: Jeff Arend and 2012 Funny Car champ Jack Beckman. Quality instructors and a quality curriculum are some of the things that make Hawley’s school stand out.
“We try to take the emotion out of the driving…when you get too worked up, too fired up, too anything, your performance goes downhill, and a lot of people are pretty intimidated when they first drive the cars,” said Hawley. “We virtually never raise our voices – people are already nervous, and getting upset with somebody over poor performance isn’t a good idea…they need to be coached along. It’s a lot of psychology, which sounds really boring to some folks, but almost everybody thinks it’s one of their favorite parts of the classes. It’s about human performance and how we think and act and behave, what we can and can’t control and basically figure out how to program ourselves to get the best possible performance we can when we need it.”
Students get in the cars early on in the program. “The people are in the cars and leaving the start line at 10 o’clock the first day of the class,” said Hawley, “because you have no idea of what it is that you’re going to have difficulty with when you drive the car – I liken it to going to a swimming school and they don’t let you get in the water. You really need to get in the cars and get instruction in the morning, but most people underestimate how fast the cars are, how much effort they’re going to have to put in to remembering the procedures, and until you get in the car and experience it…our customers become better students after they drive the car the first time.”
Hawley has worked as a driver, a broadcaster and an author, and said all of these were satisfying in their own way, but the sum of the parts is what he really enjoys in life.
“I’ve done a lot of pretty cool things, when I was driving a car, and the broadcasting stuff, writing books, everything is kind of unique,” said Hawley. “But to take all of those experiences and share them with our customers, I think that is what I really like doing now. If I hadn’t done all those other things, I don’t think I would have anywhere near the background to teach the classes and, what goes along with that, a lot of really good stories over the years. All of those have led me to enjoy what I’m doing right now, as much as anything I’ve ever done.”
Find out more about Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School at frankhawley.com.
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