After an incredibly successful career where he focused on putting everyone else’s success in front of his own, renowned Pro Stock Motorcycle legend George Bryce returned to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to fulfill a bucket list item he had waited on for twenty years.
In motorcycle drag racing, the Bryce name is legendary. Together with his high school sweetheart and best friend in life, wife Jackie Byrce, the power couple from Georgia shook things up in a big way while positively impacting the lives of countless other racers – and Hawley’s School was instrumental for a big portion of that.
During the 1970s, George started racing in the sportsman ranks and won practically every event he entered. After racking up around one hundred victories and having been part of the illustrious Winston team, George met and teamed up with the late John Myers. By then, though, he and Jackie had already started their famous race shop and retail parts supplier, Star Racing, and Myers came on as the team’s flagship driver for eight years; later, Angelle Samprey became George’s next star prodigy.
“I handed over my helmet and leathers and liked paying it forward so other people could experience it,” said George, whose business had reached a remarkable status as a Fortune 200 company. “It was our dream come true to open a business together and to go racing professionally.”
Through their generosity of wanting to see others achieve their dreams, George’s talents as a tuner, and the couple’s skilled leadership as team owners, the Bryces enabled their team members to attain impressive achievements. Myers accumulated three NHRA world championship titles along with 33 national NHRA event wins on Star Racing’s bike, while Samprey earned 40+ national wins and championships in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle three years in a row and is still going strong on the NHRA competition circuit, albeit she’s recently been wheeling a Top Alcohol Dragster.
Ironically, George met Samprey while he was working with Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School as an instructor. When Hawley founded his School in 1985, George – a multi-time motorcycle champion – attended as a student to drive a Funny Car. “Frank said we needed to add a class for bikes. It took him five years of convincing me we could create a curriculum that would be both successful and safe, but I finally agreed,” recalled George, who built the bikes for the program through Star Racing.
In 1993, George joined the School as the head instructor for the motorcycle program and continued to do so for more than two decades. “I had nearly a thousand students come through and hundreds of professionals got their licenses,” George shared. His teachings impacted more than just his own students, though, as they surely had a trickle-down effect via the fellow racing friends of each who attended. “I was in the right position to see all the new talent coming along, and I’d choose who we brought onto our team!”
Over the years, Bryce, now 69 years old, has always been a teacher in some capacity. From the classroom setting of the School to managing his Star Racing staff, developing the upcoming drivers of the drag bike world, and more, he and Jackie had a hand in touching countless lives.
Throughout his career, too, George has raced many other types of vehicles – including nitrous cars, Pro Mods, and a ’66 Chevelle with a 5-speed Lenco – he’s been there, done that, and literally has hundreds of Wally trophies to prove it.
Now semi-retired yet still very active in the racing world, George returned to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School as a student in January of 2024. “I remember watching Frank develop his Top Alcohol Dragster program and I said, ‘One day, I’m going to drive one,’” affirmed the man. “After seeing Tony Stewart and my friend Richard Shute go through the program, I thought if they could do it, so could I.”
After having waited about twenty years to make it happen, his dream came true – and he had Jackie there by his side throughout the entire amazing experience. First, George attended the School’s popular Super Comp Dragster program to get acclimated; after successfully completing the SC class, he stayed for the icing on the cake… his one-on-one Alcohol Dragster session.
“First, I ran to about the 300-foot mark, then the 800-foot mark, and then I made two quarter-mile passes – I went 6.43 at 216.8 mph and it was the lowest ET and highest MPH of my entire life!” proclaimed the man whose prior personal best on a bike was roughly 7.20 at 190 mph. “I’ve always been a G-force addict, and when I opened the parachutes… good grief, that thing stopped!”
Overall, George enjoyed being a student for a change and was grateful to have so many of his old friends from the School still there to cheer him on. For him, it was like a big family reunion with his peers.
“We worked with George and Jackie on the Pro Stock Motorcycle program for more than twenty years. We taught many of the motorcycle pros, and it was great to work with them again,” said Frank Hawley, the School’s founder. “It was fun seeing George in the driver’s seat opposed to his familiar role as an instructor. As we expected George, sailed through both our Super Comp Dragster program and our 200 mph Alcohol Dragster class!”
Jackie, too, had fun watching her beloved blast down the drag strip on four wheels as opposed to his typical two. “I knew he was experienced and that the team at the School does a great job putting the cars together, so I wasn’t scared to watch him race the Alcohol dragster,” asserted the woman, known for her strength and tenacity. “I was happy for him because he accomplished what he wanted to do. It was a great experience overall, and I appreciated how patient the instructors were and that they took the time to teach each step.”
The couple closed the physical Star Racing shop in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, to be closer to their daughter and their first grandbaby, but they’re still having fun making the most of life and of their time together. George keeps busy by experiencing other types of automotive thrills and can often be found blasting the corners of road courses around the country; he’s also a “fan in the stands” at some of the more popular small tire radial races, too.
Although their lives look a little different now as compared to forty or fifty years ago, the Bryce family’s significant contributions to the drag bike community through their work with both Star Racing and Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School have forever changed the face of motorcycle drag racing.
And, the common denominator for George and Jackie Bryce throughout all of life’s twists and turns has always been the strength of their faith and their respect for each other.