Salt Addiction: Scott Horner

November 25, 2010
Rocky Robinson
Rocky Robinson
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Having raced everything from Flat Track to Trials, Rocky Robinson now pilots streamliners at the Bonneville Salt Flats and currently holds the ultimate land speed record at 376 mph aboard the Ack Attack streamliner.

Scott setting top speed of the meet and obtaining his SCTA A license on his turbo-charged Hayabusa at El Mirage - July 2006
Scott Horner setting top speed of the meet and obtaining his SCTA A license on his turbo-charged Hayabusa at El Mirage – July 2006.

Pitted next to us at Mike Cook’s Top Speed Shootout was Scott Horner and Jamie Williams, both riding machines built and tuned at Scott’s race shop, Heads Up Performance. Unlike the rest of us who were running 1000+ horsepower streamliners canvassed in carbon fiber extending twenty to thirty-plus feet in length, their stable of racers were more traditional, and perhaps, a bit more fun.

I’m not saying in the least that racing streamliners isn’t fun. There’s yet to be anything I’ve found to compare it to. But, it takes an entire arsenal of tools, spare engines, parts bins, and a crew the size of a small army just to get us on the track. Not to mention generous sponsors, a couple hundred pounds of hamburger, a mammoth-sized stainless barbecue and half a dozen ice chests bigger than a small pickup truck just to keep the minions happy. And if the wind’s blowing, we choose to sit it out and wait. Meanwhile, guys like Scott and Jamie made as many runs as they wanted, weren’t bothered too much by the wind, and even found time to stop by for a burger and something cold to drink…

Truth be told, if it weren’t for Scott and his race shop located in Sandy, Utah, the Top 1 Ack Attack’s latest speed record might not have happened. Several of the valve springs sacked out due to excessive dyno pulls leading up to the big event. New springs had to be installed and re-shimmed, which normally isn’t a problem, unless your box of shims is sitting on the workbench in San Jose 650 miles away! Thankfully, Scott had what we needed, and all we had to do was send someone to his shop to pick them up. Thanks for saving us!

94 National Hot Rod Association  NHRA  World Finals Pomona California. Scotts professional debut in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
(Above) Scott’s professional debut in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class at the ‘94 NHRA World Finals. (Below) Scott ready to stage at the Fuji Int’l Raceway while teammate, Craig Treble, looks on.   
Fuji Intl Raceway  Fuji  Japan Nov. 93. Scott ready to stage while teammate  Craig Treble  looks on.

Scott began racing bikes in the mid ‘80s riding his XL 600 at the drag strip while serving in the Air Force. Before the decade was over he was racing a GS1150, earning a #9 National ranking in the DRAGBIKE! Pro ET class. Bit hard by the racing bug, he decided to build an NHRA Pro Stock drag bike that he raced in the ’94 NHRA World Finals as well as traveling to Japan to compete in the NHRA versus Japan Drag Festival in ’93 and ’94. He was in fast company with the likes of Byron Hines and Shirley Muldowney also making the trek across the pond.

When asked about his Pro Stock build, “It was a Suzuki GS 1100 based dragbike that I built in my garage with the original prototype Airtech bodywork (created by Kent Riches) that led to the ‘industry standard’ PSB bodywork used for many years.”

By 1997 Scott’s bike and engine building skills were put to the test when he opened Heads Up Performance, originally in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to specializing in the GS1100 and 1150 engines, his Mac Tool Man, Tom Busch, father of NASCAR standouts Kurt and Kyle, coaxed him into building stout powerplants for their GSX-R1100-motored Dwarf Cars and Yamaha FJ1200-powered Legends Cars. He later ventured into Mini Sprints and motorcycle powered sandrails.

Somewhere along the way he decided to give land speed racing a try. “It was a desire born in third grade, after reading a book about Breedlove, Gabelich, and Arfons.” Scott’s first trip to the salt ended with a 218-mph run cut short by a melted cylinder head and exhaust valve. The culprit was a damaged intercooler. Even though it ended prematurely, it was his fastest run to date and the start of bigger things to come.

In addition to Scott’s own success on the salt, several members of his “Heads Up Posse” have been equally successful. “We currently have a 100% success rate for riders approaching us to build a bike to assist them in obtaining membership into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. I entered in ’07, in the 1350 M/BG class, and since 2008, the bikes we have built have put red hats on Shane San Miguel 1350 P/P, Leslie Porterfield 1350 M/BF, John Dobbs 1350 A/BG, Ryan Keep 1000 M/BF and Jamie Williams 1650 MPS/F. I also sponsor the efforts of Bill Warner and his 278 mph monster with several proprietary components from Heads Up.”

Two Heads Up Built bikes gain entry into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. Shane San Miguel on his 1350 P P entry and Leslie Porterfield on a 1350 M BF Hayabusa. Shane became only the second to enter the Club on a production bike. Leslie was the first female to enter on a conventional  sit on  motorcycle  a naked bike as well!  August 2008
Two Heads Up Built bikes gain entry into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. Shane San Miguel on his 1350 P/P entry and Leslie Porterfield on a 1350 M/BF Hayabusa – August 2008.

From his humble beginnings on his XL 600 to holding 11 land speed records, Scott is on the fast track to success. On the salt, mud lake, or on pavement, it doesn’t seem to matter. Scott excels at going fast. His records include FIM, AMA, SCTA, and ECTA sanctioned events. Most of his records come in the “naked” or unfaired category.

One run in particular I was dying to ask Scott about occurred at this year’s Shootout where he entered the measured mile at over 240 mph but was nearly blown off course battling severe crosswinds and loose salt. I asked him to take us along for the ride:

“This was the only run I had all year with anything that resembled traction. With minimal wheel spin on this one run I realized my gearing and boost levels were off as I hit a wall at 244, the bike no longer accelerating. I maintained that speed for two and a half miles unaffected by the 11 mph crosswind.

“Entering the timed mile was like driving onto a frozen lake at speed. There was no predicting the actions of the bike. This hampered many things, including my riding position. It was a daunting task to attempt a proper tuck behind the fairing, poised on the bike much as you would position yourself on a ship’s deck in rough seas. I entered the mile at 244, the rear wheel spun wildly, both front and rear ends began to sway. I fought the wind pushing me hard right, but unfortunately had to abort the run when I was no longer able to stay safely on course. In the process of keeping the bike out of the rough stuff and inside the cones, I buzzed a mile marker, then a traffic cone, all a bit faster and closer than comfortable.”

When asked what’s next, in addition to pushing the limits of his sit-on bike, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of building a motorcycle-powered two or four-wheeled streamliner.

Hey Scott, don’t forget the barbecue…