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Practice makes perfect, and that’s especially true when it comes to wheeling a car. And whether you want to accept it or not, the fact of the matter is you’re only going to advance so much without a bit of professional guidance.
When it came to hitting the dragstrip, my experience began at BrotherHood Raceway Park in Terminal Island, California. (Any of you remember that place?) I was 18 and started out in a 15-second street car. It doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it was the perfect opportunity to watch and learn the fundamentals of getting down the dragstrip.
This was a huge stepping stone, which eventually got me into my first purpose-built track ride. At the time it was 7.50-legal, with bars all around me, and it was my first time getting garbed up in full race suit. I had no idea what it was going to run; all I knew was it weighed 3,000 pounds with me in it and the supercharged combination made a tick over 700 at the motor. My buddy figured bottom 10s, with a chance of dipping into the 9s.
Sure enough, the new combo got me down the tarmac with a 10.08 at 139 mph, and it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. The feeling of being pinned to the seat and accelerating through the entire run was just something I had never felt before. From that moment I was completely addicted to the rush.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to attend Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School through GM Performance Parts. It was a chance to get behind the wheel again and see just how well GMPP’s crate 572 big-block ran in a chassis car. Let’s just say that it’s potent, running 9.60s at nearly 140 mph.
It wasn’t until I got schooled that I started to have a better understanding of just how wrong I’ve been doing certain things. OK, maybe wrong isn’t the right word, but being inside the classroom, I learned that there was a much better way of doing things. That means you need to focus on the duty at hand and forget about any extraneous stress factors going on in your life; it’s just smarter and safer. That said, the number one thing I took with me was to treat it as my office, knowing that there is a set procedure and to repeat it every time I got in the car. Granted, there’s a lot to be learned in the two-day program, but even as simple as this sounds, this is still a rule that I follow to this day.
The next thing on my bucket list is to attend a multiple-day performance driving school. And should the funds allow it one of these years, to head back to Frank Hawley and get into their Top Alcohol program—oh man, can you say 5 seconds in the quarter-mile at 230 mph! We can all dream, right?
You know what to do, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the type of performance schools you’ve had the opportunity to check and how the experience went for you.