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Top Fuel Team Owner Turned Racer: Joe C. Maynard Heads to Frank Hawley’s

After a life spent chasing adrenaline, from his lengthy career in the Army serving as a helicopter pilot to his stint as a successful circle track racer and his multiple entrepreneurial endeavors, Joe C. Maynard finally strapped into a Super Comp dragster and got to experience the thrill of blasting down the track firsthand.

Thanks to his family’s businesses, JCM Management and Maynard Family Racing, Joe C. has been involved with the highest level of drag racing from a team owner’s perspective when his father, Joe, and late mother, Cathi, assumed co-ownership of Tony Schumacher’s NHRA Top Fuel operation in 2022 and which has since expanded to include Tim Wilkerson and Justin Ashley as well. 

Additionally, 45-year-old Joe C. also spearheaded an innovative driver development program, JCM Racing Driver Development, which he launched in 2023 as a way to help aspiring young racers hone not only their driving skills but also the business skills they will need as they seek sponsorships and build relationships with marketing partners as their careers progress.

“I was talking with our partner, Eric Lehman, and said I wanted to go to Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School,” noted the Clarksville, Tennessee-based man who has never shied from a challenge and even appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” reality show. “Antron [Brown] and Matt [Hagan] encouraged me to go for it, and I signed up for the 2-day Super Comp course.”

At first, Joe C. just expected he would be able to get a better, more authentic perspective on what his drivers do on a daily basis. “But I also knew, in the back of my mind, that I was going to want to race,” he said, smiling.

After listening to Frank Hawley’s famed classroom lectures on not only the procedures involved with piloting a Super Comp dragster but the mental portion of being successful as well, Joe C. and the rest of the group got suited up and headed to the track. “By then, I had mentally driven a car a hundred times. I knew the steps I needed to take, I just needed to translate them into my muscle memory,” noted Joe C.

For him, the most surprising (and perhaps funniest) moment came during his first run where he was only supposed to accelerate to the 200-foot marker on track. The initial jolt of releasing the transbrake button and leaving the line was thrillingly intense, but so was the speed he felt. “I could’ve sworn I was flying, but when I looked at my time slips… nope! I only went 25 mph!” laughed the man. 

With Hawley providing valuable feedback after every pass, and with the first few runs under his belt, Joe C. easily progressed to eclipse the 160-mph mark and earned his NHRA Super Comp competition license. “I had a little oops when my arm hit the shifter and I left the line in second gear, but I learned from it – and from the entire experience – and had a blast,” he added. “I showed my friends the videos of me driving and I had a huge smile on my face in every one of them.”

Joe C.’s time at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School made such an impact that he has already made plans to return and attend the Top Alcohol Dragster class. Although his initial goal was to simply better understand the driver’s job, Joe C.’s plans have changed and now he wants to be a driver, too. 

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“I would love to get into a nitro car, but I know that’s a few years away,” he continued. “I told Tony Stewart to watch his back… I’m coming for him! In a head-to-head race, there’s no way I’ll finish lower than second. I definitely might win. There’s a chance we may not lose.”

Pilots generally do well in the School’s classes and Joe C.’s past training certainly helped. “It was a pleasure to have him attend. Joe and his family have made a huge commitment to our sport,” said Hawley. “I’m looking forward to spending time with Joe in our alcohol car next.”

With his great sense of humor and his generous spirit geared towards the greater good, Joe C. is following in his father’s philanthropic footsteps of creating a legacy that lifts others up while getting in on the fun from every angle possible.

Seats in Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School courses are limited and sell out quickly. To reserve, please call 866-480-7223! For more information on all upcoming class dates and locations, visit

This story was originally published on November 1, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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