The NHRA Examiner recently had the opportunity to speak with NHRA champ and drag racing school founder Frank Hawley. Over the next few days, learn about Hawley’s start, his racing school and more.
Frank Hawley’s love of fast cars is a direct result of having four older sisters – or, at least, from their boyfriends.
“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 in a recent interview. “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.”
Hawley took that 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, while still racing competitively, Hawley came up with the idea for a drag 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.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Coming up: the beginnings of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and the most satisfying thing Hawley has done.
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