Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School Makes West Coast Home at Reopened Fontana Auto Club Dragway

 
 
Frank Hawley's Dragster Adventure offers enthusiasts an opportunity to drive a dragster

Frank Hawley's Dragster Adventure offers enthusiasts an opportunity to drive a dragster.

It may not rank as a contender for the eighth wonder of our planet, but the great million-dollar sound wall of Fontana indisputably fits prominently into the world of motorsports. For nearly 15 years the 2-mile banked oval Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California also included a drag strip, until noise complaints from neighbors closed it down two years ago. We're happy to report the lawsuit has been settled and drag racing is back, thanks to a 24-foot-tall, 1800-foot-long wall constructed along the northern strip.

Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School is the most respected program of its kind in the world.

Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School is the most respected program of its kind in the world.

"We are very happy it has reopened and they've done a tremendous job," said Frank Hawley. "A lot of great companies like K&N and Lucas Oil and Auto Club worked together, and the great new wall will make it (drag racing) friendlier to the neighborhood. They've also painted everything and installed a brand new timing system, and we can't wait to get out there and get started."

Hawley is an NHRA World Champion driver, author and sought after motivational speaker. His Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School is the most respected and the most attended school of its kind in the world. Whether teaching today's professionals or supplying the adventurous with the thrilling experience of speed and acceleration - Hawley's programs deliver.

"Our home base is in Gainesville, Florida, we've been based here for 28 years, and we travel all around the country, so this year we've already had a class in Phoenix, we're going to be in Huston, we're going to be in St. Louis at Gateway Raceway a few times this year, we're in Norwalk, Ohio, and then Reading, Pennsylvania. So we've remained fairly mobile during that time."

Home based in Gainesville, Florida, Hawley estimates that half the NHRA racers have been licensed at his programs.

Home based in Gainesville, Florida, Hawley estimates that half the NHRA racers have been licensed at his programs.

For the decade between 1996 and 2006 Hawley's school had a fulltime location in Pomona, California, but their lease wasn't renewed. "So from that time until now we haven't had a presence back in southern California, basically because there wasn't an opportunity for us to be there," Hawley explains, "But now there is. As soon as we found out Auto Club Dragway was going to reopen we jumped all over it. We wanted to be there and make it our West Coast home."

"About half the NHRA drag racers have been licensed at our programs," Hawley says. "We've had programs from top alcohol dragsters and alcohol funny cars all the way down to super gas and super comp, where you can come for a two-day program and get qualified for your NHRA competition license. But we realized that not everybody wants to invest the resources necessary to becoming a NHRA competition licensed driver, so we have what we call our Dragster Adventure Program, and these cars are powered by big block Chevy engines."

As accomplished NHRA World Champion driver and author, Hawley is also a sought after motivational speaker.

As accomplished NHRA World Champion driver and author, Hawley is also a sought after motivational speaker.

The Dragster Adventure is specifically designed for drivers that have always fantasized about driving a dragster, and perhaps even compete in some side-by-side racing, yet without committing the time and money required to become a licensed racer in one of Hawley's many licensing courses. The course provides drivers with full-sized competition styled cars capable of blasting from 0-to-60 in three seconds and reach 130 mph in the 1/4 mile.

"They have a gas pedal, brake pedal and automatic transmission and they run in the 10's," Hawley adds. "It's a real nice entry level program were, for 399 bucks, we'll teach how to drive a dragster and make some runs down the dragstrip. And if you want to stay over and do another half-day program to complete the full-day program, then you get to do some real racing, because during that second program we do let people race each other."

"It's a great idea for high performance enthusiasts, maybe they're street rodders, or they like stock cars or road racing, but they've never actually tried drag racing, and this gives them an opportunity to get behind the wheel and make some runs and have fun. It's also the perfect platform for a lot of corporate entertainment. So you can bring out groups of sales people or managers and they can come out and drive these dragsters and have a lot of fun."

There is a resurging interest in drag racing and in people wanting to find out what the drag racing experience is really all about. Hawley was nine when he first got hooked on racing. "And what I've always loved about drag racing," he says, "Is that it's one of the few motorsports were everyone can participate. You can literally take the car you drive all week to work and then take it to the local drag strip on the weekend and compete. Because if you can learn how the timing system works and learn how to get a good reaction time, and learn how to predict the performance of your car, which we call 'dial-in,' you can actually go out and win a drag race. Southern California is like a country in itself and we're looking to get a new generation reengaged in motorsports, or high performance driving, or just cars in general."

Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School officially opens Thursday April 3, 2014 at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana.


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