October 26th, 2020

FAME: A quarter mile at a time: Hawker ladies proof that auto racing isn’t just for guys

By Medicine Hat News on October 5, 2016.

Marvia (left) and Brooke Hawker pose at the Medicine Hat Drag Strip earlier this season. --Submitted Photo

Drag racing may not be the first sport you think of when you think of women in sport, but Brooke Hawker and her mom Marvia Hawker hope to change that.

Racing is a passion of theirs and compared with other automotive racing which is primarily male dominated, drag racing is seeing a lot more representation from women. Drag racing is one of the areas that is most open for women and men to be involved with.

“Anyone can participate as long as you have a driver’s license, a vehicle that is registered and insured and an approved helmet,” says Brooke.

When I asked if my mini-van would meet the requirements, she said any vehicle that can accelerate for a quarter of a mile can drag race. A drag racing mom in a mini-van? OK, that sounds like fun!

Drag racing or bracket racing isn’t about the fastest car that wins. It is about the best reaction time and most accurate elapsed time from the moment you leave start line and cross the finish line.

“It is about accuracy and which driver ran the best race. There is a lot of focus and intensity at the moment.”

A big part of racing is the mental game, maintaining focus and following a routine. There is also the physical aspect of drag racing including the G force on your body. Brooke notes that “depth perception is very important, I need to judge how fast someone is coming behind me and determine how fast I need to be going, all in a fraction of a second.”

By the end of the day after the physical labour of pushing and pulling cars, racing and maintaining mental focus, she is exhausted.

How did this passion for drag racing start for the Hawkers? Brooke’s parents got the kids involved as something to participate in as a family. Her dad found the junior dragster program and enrolled her older brother. When Brooke met the age requirements, just eight years old, she joined as well. Her dad saw an opportunity to include his daughter in the sport and didn’t want to see Brooke watching in the stands like many other sisters and moms. He was happy to be able to share his passion for cars with her.

Marvia’s start into drag racing was a bit different than Brooke’s. Marvia laughs and states “it was a plan of my husband’s that backfired.” She explains that her husband wanted to buy a race car for himself and he thought she would be more agreeable if she got involved with race school and learned more about racing. Turns out Marvia loved it and she wanted a race car too!

Brooke and Marvia’s passion for racing continues and they both compete regularly with the Medicine Hat Drag Racing Association. Brooke has a junior dragster and MHDRA 2010 National Open Division 6 championship under her belt. She now races in super pro which is the quickest class in bracket racing with vehicles that have specific electronic equipment.

The quickest Brooke has ever gone is 168 miles per hour in eight seconds — “It was awesome!” This past summer she competed in 10 races locally. With the season ending a couple weeks ago the family will take their race equipment to Las Vegas and race there in fall and spring.

Brooke’s mom Marvia is still racing as well.

“My intention is to race until I can’t get into the race car anymore,” she says.

To inspire other females to become involved with the sport, Brooke and Marvia hosted a ladies race night this past summer. Brooke owns her own business, Evoke Inspired Marketing, and wanted to promote the drag strip as well as have more women become involved. They created an event for women to come and learn about drag racing. The intent was to keep it real basic to get started and build confidence so that it didn’t seem so intimidating. It was open to anyone to come and try out. They had 27 women come out the first time and feedback from the women was that it was fun and empowering.

It is an accessible sport because the barriers are low to become involved. You need a driver’s license, a vehicle that is registered and insured and a helmet. The other draw for females is that the sport is very family oriented. MHDRA has open pits to visit drivers and see cars up close, a playground, concession, nitro hut bar and stands. The season has ended for this year but Brooke and Marvia assure that they will host another ladies race night when the season start up again next May.

“We really encourage and support women to come out and try it,” says Marvia.

As for their post-season race goals Brooke and Marvia are looking for sponsorship opportunities as they currently share a car. Brooke breaks into a huge smile as she states she is looking to get a bigger and faster dragster. For more information about MHDRA and how to become involved follow MHDRA Drag Strip on Facebook.

Kimberlee Brooks is a Females in Action Moving and Empowering committee member. Email feedback to famemedicinehat@gmail.com.

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