Drag Racing: A Subtle Motorsport
Every drag racer on earth has heard it before: “It’s just a straight line, how hard can it be?” Usually, it comes from a road racer who dismisses quarter-mile competition as easy and skill-less. But the truth is, drag racing is a subtle motorsport. While it may seem easy to move quickly from point A to point B, doing it perfectly and winning requires a great deal of skill.
Practice makes perfect, and attending your local track regularly can definitely improve your racing abilities. However, even with advanced technologies like on-car data loggers and attentive crew members, it can still be challenging to pinpoint where you’re losing time. Is it at the launch? At the shift? Or maybe even in your head before you even get to the track?
For those who understand that drag racing is much more difficult than it seems, there are several drag racing schools available to help you hone your skills. While many tracks offer some version of a dragster experience, two of the most dedicated schools are Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and the Radford Racing School SRT program.
Radford Racing School, located in Chandler, Arizona, is perfect for beginners. The one-day course is designed for new owners of Dodge Demons, focusing on using in-car tech and teaching participants how to feather the throttle and deal with poor traction. The instructors also provide guidance on going through tech inspection, staging the car at the “Christmas tree,” understanding the lights, and executing proper track exit strategies. While the program may seem basic for experienced racers, the extensive in-car time ensures that it never feels dull. Plus, the instructors are patient and supportive, making the experience enjoyable for everyone. The Radford school also shares a campus with the Radford road course, providing opportunities for burnouts and launches on the skidpad. Additionally, the school offers training in drift/skid practice cars, reinforcing the importance of focusing on where you want to go while controlling the vehicle.
On the other hand, if you have some racing experience and are looking to improve as a serious competitor or step up to a faster car class, Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School is the way to go. Located in Gainesville, Florida, with some traveling programs available, this school offers both one-day and two-day courses. Hawley’s approach is highly focused on providing detailed feedback and coaching, ensuring that every aspect of your run is thoroughly analyzed. While it may seem daunting to have your run played in front of the class and critiqued, this process is incredibly helpful in understanding and improving your performance. Hawley’s classes also include extensive classroom lectures on mental health and consistency, providing valuable insights for racers interested in pursuing the sport more competitively. The school uses full-on race cars with cages, limited visibility, and all the necessary safety equipment, giving participants a taste of what it’s like to be a serious racer. Furthermore, Hawley and his team can sign off on an NHRA license that allows you to compete in various classes, granting credibility to those looking to pursue professional racing.
Although Radford Racing School and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School differ in their approach, both offer valuable experiences to aspiring drag racers. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced racer aiming to enhance your skills, these schools provide the necessary tools and guidance to help you succeed on the dragstrip.
Mention should also be made of Roy Hill’s Drag Racing School, although I have not personally attended his classes. As highlighted by Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs,” drag racing proved to be more challenging than expected when he participated in Hill’s program.
In conclusion, drag racing is far from being an easy and skill-less endeavor. It requires precision, focus, and a deep understanding of the intricacies of the sport. The availability of specialized drag racing schools, such as Radford Racing School and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, allows aspiring racers to develop their skills and improve their performance. Whether it’s learning to handle poor traction or perfecting a foot-brake launch, these schools provide the necessary knowledge and hands-on experiences to make you a better drag racer. So, the next time someone dismisses drag racing as a simple task, you can confidently explain the subtle complexities of quarter-mile competition.