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Dragster Adventure Challenge Program - What A Drag!

Firing Up!


During our classroom instruction, we were treated to some extra words of encouragement from NHRA Funny Car pilots Robert Hight (left) and Jack Beckman (center) – both Frank Hawley Drag Racing School alumni. In fact, Jack still works at the school and is in charge of West Coast operations.

Being that you read this magazine, or at least look at the pictures, I take it for granted that you either own or have an interest in Camaros. And being that much of what we cover in Camaro Performers magazine, on camaroperformers.com, and on all of our social media sites, is performance based, I would then conclude that you have been down a dragstrip, on an autocross, or a road course at least once in your life, either as a driver or passenger. With that said; if you have yet to partake in any of those activities, I’m sure one or hopefully all of them rate very high up on your bucket list. I’m fortunate to have done them all and even had some professional training in road course and autocross driving. And after every session, I leave a much better driver than when I arrived. You can never know too much about hitting the braking zone just right, proper apex entry and exit, and driving the quickest line. I mean, there is just so much to learn about road racing, it’s hard to take it all in even throughout a three-day course.

Now, I’ve been down a dragstrip quite a few times and I thought I was pretty good. There’s really not much to it, right? You do a burnout (the really fun part), stage your car, step on the gas, try to cut a good light, and make your way down the quarter-mile. What’s so hard about that?


Frank continues teaching the course on the starting line, demonstrating how the Christmas Tree works and explaining the difference between shallow and deep staging.

Well, that’s exactly what I thought before being offered the opportunity to take the Dragster Adventure Challenge Program at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School held at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, along with about 20 of my peers. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to drag racing than I had previously known. Frank’s course starts off with about an hour of classroom instruction, in which he talks about the intricacies of staging and driving the dragsters, and he even touched on the proper way to do a burnout (again, my favorite part). Frank then dives into the mental aspect of where you need to be long before you strap into a car, whether it’s your 13-second street car or, as in our case, one of the school’s 10-second dragsters. Instruction then moves onto the Christmas Tree and where you need to focus once you’ve (properly) staged the car, when to mash the pedal in order to cut the quickest light, and where to look once you’ve launched the car and are heading down the track.

Due to space constraints, I’m only able to scratch the surface of what goes into properly preparing yourself before hitting the track, but the knowledge I gained about drag racing that day will make me a much better driver the next time I hit the quarter-mile.


Frank is also the official starter. He analyzes your first run, which is only an eighth-mile (half track). If everything looks good, he cuts you loose and you are then allowed to make a full quarter-mile run next time out.


Here is the Frank Hawley Dragster Adventure Challenge graduating class of April 2014. Go to camaroperformers.com to see in-car video

On top of everything I learned throughout the course, I have to say that it was just about the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel of any car. There’s just something cool about going down a quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds at 130 mph while sitting just inches from the ground.

It’s safe to say, I’m totally sucked in and am looking forward to taking the Super Comp course to get my NHRA competition license good to 7.50 seconds. And that license will also cover driving a new COPO Camaro. I’m just sayin.’

Frank Hawley’s drag racing schools take place at various tracks throughout the country. Go to frankhawley.com to see the course schedule. In fact, if you’ve taken one of his courses or any other form of a driving school, email me at NLicata@enthusiastnetwork.com. I want to hear about your experience.

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