FRANK HAWLEY’S DRAG RACING SCHOOL ESCAPES MAJOR HURRICANE IRMA DAMAGE
Millions of people in the state of Florida were impacted by Hurricane Irma this past weekend.
The hurricane barreled into Florida on Sunday, crashing through the Florida Keys before making a second landfall near Naples on the Gulf Coast and setting a course for Georgia.
Frank Hawley, former world champion NHRA nitro Funny Car driver, and longtime drag racing school instructor, told CompetitionPlus.com Monday morning his Frank Hawley Drag Racing School at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway escaped major damage.
“We are in North Florida and soon as the Hurricane hit Naples and turned inland a little bit, we knew it was going to lessen the impact of the storm for North Florida,” Hawley said in a phone interview. “We got together at 9 p.m. (ET, Sunday) and all the power went out and it was over. We had big winds, rain, power outages and trees down and the race track got flooded pretty good and our shop got flooded, but we actually really, really lucked out because we had just run classes all week long in Topeka, Kan., and we got back in town before the storm came and most of our equipment was loaded high and dry in our transporters. We parked them underneath the grandstands to be protected. Back in the shop, we lucked out because all our alcohol cars were all up on pro jacks, and our engines were up on engine stands. There were a few things like supplies that got hurt, but it’s the old saying, it could always be worse.”
Hawley acknowledged when he departed for Topeka, he had no clue about Hurricane Irma.
“When we left (Gainesville) a week and a half ago, we didn’t have any idea the storm would be here and be this bad,” he said. “We have no power here, and it’s hard for us to communicate with people, and I’m sure we have a lot of folks trying to get a hold of us and we just want to let the world know that we sat and looked at our calendar and it’s not going to have any impact at all on any of the classes we have for our school. The race track obviously has a lot of water, but they engineered that place when they built it to get rid of that water as fast as they can, so it’s going to be dried out. I did see one power pole down, but I didn’t see any damage at the track. The scoreboards are up and the buildings all look good, and the grandstands look good. I drove out this morning (Monday) and other than some powerlines down, and trees, it looks like, and I’m just speaking for this community, but looks like North Florida did fairly well and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people in South Florida, because they had huge winds and water damage down there. Here in Gainesville everybody did pretty good and a lot of customers are probably trying to get in touch with us which will be difficult right now, but we are in good shape and it is not going to change our calendar. We have a bunch of mopping up to do at the shop and probably a few cardboard boxes to throw away, but other than that we are in pretty good shape.”