A police officer of 11 years in Belmont, Calif., Chuck Bradshaw retired from the force in Feb. of 2012 after a pair of shoulder surgeries. The surgeries were so extensive that it forced him to immediately put an end to his sprint car racing days, a tough blow considering he had just finished building two identical sprint cars.
But the silver lining in everything was that it opened the door to return to drag racing. Needing to fulfill his continued need for speed even after a pair of surgeries, Bradshaw chose drag racing, and needing to get back in the seat as quickly as possible, Bradshaw chose Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School.
Bradshaw attended the March class in Gainesville, Fla., received his Super Comp license and is now counting down the days to finishing his Top Dragster and going down the track. “I was ready to go racing as soon as I got back,” Bradshaw said. “Going to the school was definitely worth it.
“I’ve always loved drag racing. I guess it’s just that need for something that goes fast.” Racing in some degree has been part of Bradshaw’s life for as long as he can remember. The 48-year-old San Carlos, Ca. resident started with street cars as a teenager and then moved to an altered dragster.
Before long, Bradshaw was doing drag boat racing, off-road racing in a buggy and eventually the volatile world of sprint car racing. But a pair of shoulder surgeries quickly halted those days. “I asked my doctor about racing the sprint cars after surgery and he said, ‘If you do this, we’re going to have more surgeries.’ I said I’m not having any more surgery, so I sold them and started to build my dragster,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw drove to Colorado last October, picked up his new Top Dragster and then proceeded to make it his own. “I tore it down and rebuilt the entire thing brand new,” Bradshaw said. “Everything is polished or chromed. I got a little carried away. It’s definitely not your average car, but I’ve always wanted my cars to look good.”
But Bradshaw needed to get licensed and, from everything he was told, there was only one drag racing school that fit the ball. “I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of searching, and everything told me Frank’s was the best,” Bradshaw said. “They were certainly right.”
During the two-day class at Frank Hawley Drag Racing School, Bradshaw was blown away by the lessons he learned in the classroom. Sitting in the car and going down the track was a thrill, but Bradshaw raved about Hawley’s delivery and the topics covered during the classroom sessions. “That was by far the best part of the class,” Bradshaw said. “The mental part of drag racing, all the concentration topics he talked about and everything else he touched on in relation to being successful, that was easily the best part, not only for drag racing but for your own personal life. “The mental part of it was huge. That was excellent, I thought.”
Since retiring from the police force, Bradshaw is now a Firearms Instructor for his own private company, training police officers and numerous S.W.A.T. teams. Bradshaw puts his clients and students through a rigorous training and curriculum, but he still found himself gathering new material and learning new lessons from drag racing that he could apply to real-life situations. “I’ve put some of that stuff I’ve learned into my own training and curriculum. It was very, very good. One of Frank’s sayings is ‘You don’t even know what you don’t know yet,’ and that really stuck with me,” Bradshaw said.
“The training I do is pretty intense and you almost have to humble these guys. You have to get them to know that they don’t know everything and Frank’s saying is perfect for that. If they apply that, it’s going to help them in the long run.” That mindset continues to play a big role in Bradshaw’s life as well. Following a difficult time of retiring and shoulder surgeries, Bradshaw is only looking forward these days.
After getting licensed, his mind in on drag racing, and Bradshaw will make his debut in his new Top Dragster next month in a NORCAL race. With hopes of going in the 6.80s at 225-plus mph, Bradshaw has already planned a handful of races in the NORCAL Series as well as in NHRA Division 7.
Now that a pair of adverse situations are behind him, Bradshaw is simply thrilled to be focused on the next chapter in his life. “A couple of stories that Frank told really made you think,” Bradshaw said. “You can’t dwell on things and you have to move on.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t really need to worry about, especially things you have no control of. You have to let it go and move on. That’s a big mental part of drag racing, but it’s big in life, too, and Frank really did a great job of explaining that.”
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