Gainesville: Hillary Will preview

KB Racing LLC team looking for memorable results at ACDelco Gatornationals First trip to Hawley's school propelled Will to Top Fuel GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2007) -- Team owner Ken Black, driver Hillary Will, and crew chief Jim Oberhofer...

KB Racing LLC team looking for memorable results at ACDelco Gatornationals

First trip to Hawley's school propelled Will to Top Fuel

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2007) -- Team owner Ken Black, driver Hillary Will, and crew chief Jim Oberhofer are looking for memorable results at the 38th annual NHRA ACDelco Gatornationals this weekend.

Will is no stranger to the Gainesville Raceway quarter-mile track, where the Gatornationals are being held, having raced here on two other occasions -- once when she attended Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School to get her Top Alcohol Dragster license and then at last year's event when she competed in her KB Racing LLC-owned, Kalitta Motorsports-managed Top Fuel dragster as a rookie driver.

Will recounts the visit to Hawley's school that sent her on the road to Top Fuel.

"The first time I came to Gainesville was when I was 24 years old, in 2004, for the Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School. I remember I made the cross country trip all by myself from California. I didn't tell a whole lot of people why I was making the trip. In fact, I had to call in sick to work for a couple of days. Little did anyone know, I was early in the process of making my dream of becoming a professional drag racer come true," recalled Will.

"At that time I didn't know how I was going to make it happen but I thought a visit to the Frank Hawley Top Alcohol Dragster School would be a good direction to go. It had taken me nearly two years to save for the trip and the school. A lot of my friends laughed at me because they thought my money would have been better spent buying furniture to fill my empty house. I was a little intimidated and afraid that I wouldn't succeed at the school and afraid that if I failed it would be my sign that I was wasting my time attempting to be a professional drag racer.

"The two days of racing school were very intense because I wanted to leave there with my top alcohol license and I knew that usually students have to go multiple times to earn their license from Mr. Hawley. But the fact of the matter was I couldn't afford to go back.

"I remember pulling up to the staging lanes for my final licensing run. I was very nervous because it was late in the day and it was my final opportunity to make a good run and have Mr. Hawley sign off on my license. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job of driving and pass the class in one attempt.

"On that final attempt I kept from getting overly nervous by telling myself that this was nothing. I thought about how the grandstands were empty and no one else really cared how I did. I remember telling myself then, that one day I would be pulling up to the lanes and the grandstands would be full and I would have a whole team behind me. I calmed down and focused on my job and got the dragster down the track just as Frank wanted and he signed off on my Top Alcohol Dragster license."

This one event in the life of the aspiring professional driver helped Will realize her dream and will always be remembered by her as the steppingstone to her future.

"Those two days at the track changed my life. They gave me a sense of confidence and a feeling that maybe I could make it. To this day, I am thankful for what I learned from Frank Hawley during those two days. That has been over three years ago and my life has changed significantly since then. I had a short but successful stint in the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks which propelled me to my goal of being a Top Fuel driver," added Will.

Now in her second season as a Top Fuel driver, Will returns to Gainesville Raceway hoping to build new memories.

"When I pull up to the staging lanes at the Gatornationals this year in my KB Racing Top Fuel Dragster, I will remember that day at the school. I will take a brief moment to reflect on how fortunate I have been to make it where I am today. Then I will focus on making another memory at this track by making it to the winner's circle. I will have a whole team behind me and I know the stands will be packed full," said Will on the eve of this year's ACDelco Gatornationals.

"The Gatornationals always brings a lot of excited and friendly fans. We look forward to making it both memorable for them and for our team."

-credit: kb racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Oberhofer , Hillary Will , Frank Hawley , Ken Black