Tony Stewart has done just a little bit of everything there is to do in motorsports with the exception of drag racing. After a recent trip to the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing, he rectified that deficiency.
Accompanied by NHRA Top Fuel racer and girlfriend Leah Pruett (who provided instruction), Stewart brought a little “Smoke” to the drag strip. A camera crew was on hand to document his introduction to straightline racing in a video posted on Stewart’s YouTube channel.
First Stewart needed to become familiar with the “Christmas tree” lighting system that starts each run down the drag strip, and he did so in a Super Comp car. From there, Stewart moved into one of the Hawley’s Alcohol Dragsters that was equipped with an automatic transmission.
“We use that setup to allow new drivers to learn the routine you would use to drive an A/Fuel [Dragster] or Top Fuel car, but they’re still plenty fast,” Hawley said at NHRA.com. “We want them to see how it steers and handles and what you can and can’t do with it. Obviously, for someone like Tony who is used to seeing the world at 200 mph or faster, that wasn’t an issue.”
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Hawley is a two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion who has taught amateurs and pros how to navigate a dragster down the strip for three decades.
“He’s world-class at anything he’s ever done, so it didn’t surprise me that he had no problems,” Hawley added. “He was a great guy, easy to talk to, and very humble. What a neat guy.”
Stewart made a dozen runs in the two cars and reportedly earned a Top Dragster license. He has not announced any intention to race a dragster professionally, but drag racing fans will want to keep an eye out for “Smoke” at the racetrack.