Steve Horn first entered Santa Pod Raceway courtesy of his Dad’s friendship with one of the gate staff back in the early ‘70’s. He’d just started an apprenticeship in Electronic Engineering at RAE Bedford and soon became known for helping to fix various track equipment, which he saw as pay back for the free entry he’d gained.
At RAE Bedford he was involved in Research & Development of the Harrier Jump Jet and at Santa Pod joined the ‘Jet Set’ as the bunch of young lads who hung out with the Scorpion Jet Car, began to be known.
By the Blue Thunder Jet Nationals, held at Santa Pod in August 1983, Steve was driving Hellbender and won the Cannonball style shootout against 4 other jets with consistent 7.20’s at 220 mphm, the eventual winner being indicated by the arrow win light manually lighting up in the lane he stood in after the race was over.
When the Midnight Cowboy Jet Funny Car was being developed, Steve would drive the few miles to Santa Pod in his lunch hour so that he could sit in the pilot’s seat, whilst Allan Herridge was trying to sort out the afterburner, then he would go back to work for the afternoon! The sad events later that year made Steve hang up his helmet and fire suit for good but he continued to crew for the jet cars.
He had a lot of interest in the original timing system (DRAGS Mk2) developed by Peter Billinton, but the most significant development was the purchase of the TSI system from the USA in 1991. Since then he has overseen the track re-wiring 4 times. With the TSI system, Drag Racing had reaction times, 60ft, 330 ft, 1/8th mile ET & MPH, as well as 1000 ft and the full quarter along with the finish line scoreboards.
Lots of study and dummy runs of the system were needed to get used to the new choice of Sportsman and Pro Trees and now Drag Racing also had the Progressive ladder system. Bracket racing was born and with it the need to train staff, often in his living room in the evenings.
With Drag Racing achieving FIA status, Steve Horn was one of the first in the sport to be recognised as an MSA International Speed Time Keeper and travelled to many events across Europe and Worldwide.
It has to be remembered that the work of the timing team starts long before the race meeting starts and ends long after it finishes. Steve said that it always makes him smile when records are set although his focus has always been the equipment on track, keeping watch to see if any damage has been done or bulbs need replacing to get the action moving again.
It is for his long-standing dedication and hard work in helping to develop the systems and people required at Santa Pod and beyond for races to be won and records to be set, that Steve Horn is being inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Profile By Lesley Wright
Photo Portrait: Julian Hunt