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Frank Hawley remembers his roots in Southern Ontario

Frank Hawley got his drag racing start in southern Ontario
Frank Hawley got his drag racing start in southern OntarioFrank Hawley's Drag Racing School

The Buffalo Motorsports Examiner recently had the opportunity to speak with NHRA champ and drag racing school founder Frank Hawley about his school and his start in racing – just across the border in southern Ontario.

Two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Frank Hawley grew up in the muscle car era, and has his four older sisters to thank for his love of fast cars and drag racing.

“I had four older sisters – this was back in the muscle car era – and all of them had boyfriends and they had lots of fast cars and they used to come around the house,” said Hawley. “That’s how I got interested in fast and powerful cars. One of them was actually the first one to take me to a drag race when I was 9 years old and I saw a couple Top Fuel cars run and thought ‘that’s absolutely fabulous.’ Unlike some folks, at a very young age I think I knew what I wanted to do.”

The London, Ontario native took his love of fast cars and went drag racing in Southern Ontario, visiting tracks like St. Thomas Raceway Park, Cayuga Dragway and Grand Bend Dragway, and later travelling into Michigan, New York and Ohio for races. Hawley eventually found himself racing in the NHRA, where he won the Funny Car championship in 1982 and 1983, and became one of just 14 drivers to win in both Nitro categories, Funny Car and Top Fuel.

In 1985, Hawley founded his drag racing school in Gainesville, Florida after checking out a road racing school. “I went to a road racing school, learned how to drive some Formula Fords and thought, ‘Wow, that was very cool, that’s a great program,’ said Hawley. “At the time, that was about all you could drive was road race stuff, and I wondered if anybody would be interested in learning to drag race properly with good equipment, so we got a few investors together and some equipment and made a deal with the NHRA to use the track in Gainesville, Florida.”

Nearly 30 years later, the school is offering licensing courses and Dragster Adventure programs at seven different strips around the country, including Norwalk, Ohio’s Summit Motorsports Park and Reading, Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway. The Super Comp/Super Gas licensing course is being offered in Norwalk on July 21st and 22nd, and in Reading on September 3rd and 4th; Dragster Adventures at the tracks take place July 24th (Norwalk) and September 5th (Reading).

Learn more about the course and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School at frankhawley.com.

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