Two-time NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car world champion Frank Hawley will be honored during the Gatornationals pre-race ceremonies as the NHRA 50th Anniversary of Funny Car dignitary.
Hawley, inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2014, won the 1982 and 1983 NHRA Funny Car world championships driving for legendary tuner Austin Coil at the controls of the famed Chi-Town Hustler. He has nine NHRA victories under his belt and is one of only 15 drivers in NHRA history to earn national event victories in both Top Fuel (2) and Funny Car (7).
For the past three decades Hawley has been teaching and licensing drivers who attend his Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School.
Also as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Funny Car, two nostalgia Funny Cars will be featured in the NHRA’s Hot Rod Junction. Tom Hunt will bring the ex-Gene Snow 1974 Chevy Vega, the “Flying Purple People Eater,” and Rick and Arlene Lucas will be showcasing “Nitro Nellie” Otis’s former 1971 Ford Mustang, “Goins and Goins Conqueror”.
In addition to the vintage Funny Cars, Hot Rod Junction will be showing off more than 30 of the region’s coolest hot rods. Included on the list of the cars that will be featured is three-time NHRA Top Fuel champ “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ 1927 Ford T Roadster. With 35 NHRA national event wins in a near seven decade career, Garlits, now 84, was voted NHRA’s No. 1 drag racer of all-time during the NHRA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2001 and currently owns and operates the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Fla.
The Hot Rod Junction cars and trucks will be on display at the track throughout the weekend and on Sunday will line up for a parade in front of the main grandstands.
The AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals is one of the most tradition-rich events on the NHRA circuit and annually serves as the East Coast season opener. Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock teams will be joined by the Pro Stock Motorcycle class for its season-opening race in what promises to be an exciting weekend of racing at Gainesville Raceway. NHRA stars John Force, Tony Schumacher, Erica Enders, Andrew Hines, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Antron Brown, Courtney Force, Leah Pritchett and many more will be racing for victories and world championship points during the weekend. The racing will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including three hours of Sunday finals coverage starting at 1 p.m. (ET).
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, March 18, with sessions at 12:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, March 19, at noon and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 20.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.