Story continues below this advertisement
Frank Hawley is a two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion, winning the nitro funny car titles back-to-back in 1982 and 1983. In 1985 he founded the drag racing school that bears his name. In the ensuing 27 years, Hawley has become the resource for drivers and even crew to learn how to drag race or how to drag race better. Top racers of all types and classes have been through his school at one time or another including current NHRA Funny Car world champion, Jack Beckman who even teaches and consults at the school. Just about everyone we know that has been through the Hawley school’s various classes has nothing but praise for the man and his teachings.
When the opportunity came up to put our own Alex Rogeo (driver of the official MoparMax race car, the Maulin’ Magnum) through Hawley’s Super Comp/Super Gas class at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway we jumped at the chance. What better way to tell the story of the school then from the perspective of a young, talented race car driver hungry for knowledge?
The first impression Hawley made us on was his physical bearing. The man is fit and trim and very light on his feet, he walks with an efficient and seemingly effortless gait while maintaining a ramrod straight posture. Not the posture of a person trying to stand straight and tall, more like the posture of a recently retired military colonel who has spent a life time standing tall and proud until the point where it’s the natural posture of the man’s muscle memory.
The second impression is that Frank gets straight to the point. Jack Beckman told us that Frank’s parents gave him the most appropriate name possible, the man is very frank. Frank speaks in a clear and precise tone with no wasted words. Throughout our two days with him it became apparent that he learned long ago not to waste time with superfluous communication, he tells the students like it is with no animosity or malice—just the facts, delivered without embellishment or concern for “feelings.”
The classroom lecture occurred in the media room of the LVMS tower with the two Super Comp dragsters and two Super Gas Pontiacs pitting and prepping under the arch by the starting line. The track had a series of cones placed to mark various points for starting and stopping burnouts and distances to run at different points in the licensing procedure.
The timing was interesting. The class was just before Alex’s last points race of the year in the PSCA series. At that point, Alex was in a virtual five-way tie for first place in her class. We wondered if she was going to learn anything that she could apply to the coming weekend. We’ll stop here and not play spoiler, time to let Alex tell her story: