BITS FROM THE VMP PITS
Frank Hawley returns to Funny Car Competition in his Hometown
"A lot has changed since I drove last in 1991," Hawley said. "Funny Cars go a lot faster, there's so much more technology available to help tune the cars, and the safety features have gotten so much better.
"With the school, I've obviously stayed really keyed in to what's been happening in this world, and actually, after listening to so many crew chiefs over the years, I think I know how to communicate with Aaron [Brooks] and Rod [Centorbi, co-crew chiefs] about what's happening in the car so they can make their tuning decisions."
Hawley calls Gainesville home, and along with being the host track for his school, the venerable quarter-mile has been very friendly to his career. In 1982, behind the wheel of the famous "Chi-Town Hustler" tuned by the legendary Austin Coil (now tuner to 14-time Funny Car champion John Force), Hawley scored his first-ever NHRA national event win at the Gators' with a with a 6.07 in the final against Tim Grose, whose parachute deployed before half-track.
"That was really the year that things started falling into place for us. We weren't even scheduled to go to all the races, but we did so well at the season opener in Pomona , and then when we won Gainesville , things just went on from there," Hawley said.
The London, Ontario-native went on that year to record wins in Columbus , Ohio and at the inaugural NorthStar Nationals in Brainerd , Minn. en route to taking the Championship title for the year. He also took the title that year in the inaugural Big Bud Shootout, defeating Don "the Snake" Prudhomme in the final, 5.85 to 5.92.
In the 10-year span from 1981-91, Hawley won seven NHRA Funny Car titles, the 1982 and 1983 Funny Car championships, and two Top Fuel titles. In 1985, he founded his school that was at the time limited to classroom and on-track instruction for Top Alcohol Dragsters and Alcohol Funny Cars. Eventually, the curriculum expanded to include Super Comp dragsters, Super Gas doorslammers and Pro Stock Motorcycles. Distinguished graduates include Whit Bazemore, Larry Dixon, Jerry Toliver, Matt Hines, and even his new Gotham City Racing teammate, Melanie Troxel.
"Returning to competition at the Gatornationals really just makes sense for me," Hawley said. "Once you're a racer I don't think that desire to get out and compete ever leaves, and this was an opportunity that was pretty hard to turn down. Of course I'm looking forward to competing again, but more than that, I'm really looking forward to helping Mike and Roger promote our sport and market it to a number of companies that probably haven't been approached yet.
"The package of being able to be involved and drive the car again, race with a lot of my friends and to help these guys grow their racing business, it's just wonderful," he said.
Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School
HIGHT JOINS NHRA STARS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST ILLEGAL STREET RACING
“As a professional drag racer I think it is my responsibility to let people know that illegal street racing is dangerous and senseless. In almost every community there is a safe place to drag race in an organized environment,” said the 2005 Auto Club Road to the Future winner. “If the professional and sportsman level racers don't speak out about the dangers of illegal street racing then legitimate drag racers will continue to get lumped in with these people that are breaking the law. We spend too much time on making sure we do things safely and by the book to have our great sport dragged down by people who are risking their lives and the lives of innocent bystanders.”
Hight and professional drivers including Brandon Bernstein, Bob Vandergriff, Del Worsham, Jeg Coughlin, Doug Herbert, and Hillary Will participated in the creation of the ‘Race the Strip, not the Street' video that will be shown at NHRA POWERade Series events and is linked on YouTube for anyone to see.
TO VIEW VIDEO CLICK BELOW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK_aTZm1hfw
To find an NHRA track near you, or for more information about Street Legal Drags presented by AAA, visit NHRA Street Legal .
VMP Now On YouTube
VMP now has a channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/VMPONLINE . Do you have video footage of your racer you want to show off? Send us footage of your car in action at VMP and we'll be glad to post it at for all to see.
Cure the Winter Blues: 2008 Spring Open
VMP will host its annual Spring Open March 15th & 16th . All racers are invited to come out and test and tune their vehicles over the weekend. Test and tune fees are $30 for 1 day and $46 for both days. Their will also be a special NHRA pre-season test session in which all pro teams will be able to test and tune free. This includes all Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, and Competition Eliminator teams. Gates open at 8:30 AM both days. Test and tune begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday and at 10:15 AM on Sunday. Spectator tickets are $15 for 1 day and $25 for both days. Children under 12 will be admitted free with a paid adult.
VMP Welcomes New Race Operations Manager
VMP is proud to welcome Marc Wesler to our staff as the new Race Operations Manager. Marc comes to us from Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Florida where he was the Dragstrip Operations Manager for a year. He graduated from Central Michigan University in 2006 where he obtained a bachelor's degree in Sports Management and Business Administration. Drag racing has always played a significant role in Marc's life as a spectator, racer, and now track operator. His father has been racing for over 35 years and currently campaigns two cars in the Division 3 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. His two older step brothers also contend for track championships at the local bracket level. Skimming through the pages of National Dragster rather than children's books, Marc himself found himself hooked on the sport at an early age. Marc raced for 8 years in the local bracket program in addition to running in various NHRA Super Street events.
VMP Continues Off-season Track Improvements
Virginia Motorsports Park would like to announce it has recently re-profiled its track surface. The latest off-season track improvement involved grinding and smoothing the 680 foot concrete pad in order to help provide the best racing surface for all of VMP's competitors. This new surface will play host to the 2008 NHRA Torco Racing Fuels Nationals (October 10-12). VMP will open its 2008 season on Saturday March 1st .
Attention ET Points Racers
All Gold Club spots must be renewed by the end of the first race (March 22). After the first race they will become open. There will be racer registration on March 1, March 8, March 15-16, and March 21-22. Please sign up in Suite 101.
2008 Heads Up Rules Posted
Street Wars / Street Points
Street Wars / Street Points