Getting Up To Speed With...Danny Horner
By Ben Deatherage
(Photo Courtesy of Madman Photography)
Fans of the Cottage Grove Speedway will never forget one of the greats to come out of the famed ¼-mile clay oval in the last twenty-five years, Danny Horner. Horner, from Cottage Grove, took the Pacific Northwest by storm in 2006 by winning both the Cottage Grove Speedway 360 Sprint title as well as the Northern Sprint Tour championship in the organization’s final season. In addition to the crowns that year he would obtain he also won the first two legs of the 2006 edition of Speedweek Northwest first at the Southern Oregon Speedway in White City and again the next night at his home track, the Cottage Grove Speedway.
Danny Horner is also a three-time Limited Sprint (now called Northwest Extreme Sprints) champion at CGS and also managed to earn a couple of championships while in Kage Karts. Horner was able to earn the Rookie of the Year award in the Limited Sprints at Cottage Grove in 2000 and five years later the same award for the 360 Sprints. 2005 also would see him capture the Rookie of the Year award for the Northern Sprint Tour.
2007 looked like it was going to be a bigger and better year for him but unfortunately he was injured in a major crash at USA Raceway (now called Tucson International Raceway) in Arizona while racing against the World of Outlaws. During the crash Horner sustained a severe neck injury that would put an immediate halt to his racing plans. Since then he has only raced a handful of times usually just once a year.
Since then he’s been quite busy marrying his lovely wife Trisha and raising their son Andrew. We got a chance to talk with Danny about his achievements of the past and his plans for the future. Now without further ado let’s get up to speed with Danny Horner.
Driver: Danny Horner
Home Track: Cottage Grove Speedway
Hometown: Cottage Grove, Oregon
Occupation: Timber Faller
Years Racing: 15
Classification: Northwest Extreme Sprint
Team: Horner Racing
Sponsors: Horner’s Inc., Steelhouse Metal Roofing Supply, Brian Crockett Motorsports
BD: Well Danny life has been definitely busy for you with the start of a family and everything.
DH: For sure. I got married to my wife Trisha in 2011 and our son Andrew is now three soon to be four. They are really the ones that want me to keep racing. Andrew’s got a couple of laps in a Kart under his belt but isn’t quite ready yet to race. I don’t think it will be too long before he’s out probably not this summer but maybe the following summer.
BD: The last couple of years you’ve made a few appearances at Cottage Grove in a Limited Sprint. Are you planning to do that in 2014?
DH: We’re kind of on the fence with money, equipment, etc. on what we’re going to do. I definitely want to race the Marvin Smith Memorial and run as much as we can. With the way the schedule is set it still gives me a chance to go camping and do stuff with the family. I might even have my brother Steven hop in the car if I can’t drive one night. But if we don’t tear any equipment up we should be able to make most of the races.
BD: Fans who have watched you run through the years may remember your start in the Limited Sprints but I remember you running in the Kage Karts. When did you exactly get started in them?
DH: I started in Karts when I was about ten. What started it all was a guy named Bill Farley, who was working with my dad, had a go-kart and drove it around the work parking lot. That’s when my dad got bit by the bug. He got one for my older brother Ron and then got one me and then my little brother Steven. Pretty soon Scott Bangle and Rick Pallin got them too and it just started to grow from there.
I ran them for about eight years and started out in the 5HP Briggs before moving up to 125cc, then to 250cc and then eventually to the 500cc class. I primarily ran Cottage Grove and Roseburg, both indoor and their outdoor track (Diamond Speedway) that they had. We also ran Lebanon, Corvallis Indoor, Albany Indoor, Red Bluff down in California a couple times, and even over in Prineville sometimes.
I didn’t get started racing Sprint Cars until I was eighteen. I think my dad would have put me in one when I was sixteen but I opted to get a pickup truck before a Sprint Car. Scott Bangle had found out that Jesse Thistle had a car for sale and sweet talked my dad into getting me one. We put a motor together and the rest is history.
BD: Some people that really know you may know the answer to this question, but why do you race the #75H?
DH: Me and my brothers were big fans of Marvin and Dale Smith. Ron picked #41 so I went with #75. All of us brothers really looked up to both Marvin and Dale when we were growing up and watching them race, in fact we still do.
BD: In 2006 you won both the Northern Sprint Tour and Cottage Grove Speedway championships. Would you say that was your biggest achievement?
DH: I think so, I mean it was definitely the best year we ever had. Before the season started around here we went to Oklahoma and Arkansas to race and ended up going to California a little bit.
When we won the NST championship it was pretty close. I think I only won it by four points over Roger Crockett even though Roger won the race on the final night at Yakima. Our mag came loose during the main and I couldn’t restart worth a darn and fell back to third but on a long run I could go full speed. If I would have dropped one more spot I would have lost the title. I ended up having a heck of a race with Joe Ramaker for second and I ended up getting by him. I had so much fun in that race Yakima is such a cool track.
BD: When you got injured back in 2007 it really hurt your neck pretty bad. How is your body doing now seven years down the road and do you have to get it checked on at all?
DH: I had a burst fracture to my C-5 vertebrae. I’ve went back to the doctors a few times and they said it looked good. It feels good and it doesn’t seem to give me any problems.
BD: I know everyone must ask you this question all the time and feel free to say pass if you don’t want to answer it. Do you think there will be any chance of you returning to racing fulltime at some point or will it most likely just be an every now and then kind of thing?
DH: I don’t see myself racing fulltime but you never know. We just want to go out there and have some fun on the weekends.
The Cottage Grove Speedway is set to host a test and tune play day on Saturday April 5th while the first race of the year is planned for the following Saturday on the 12th. Log on to www.cottagegrovespeedway.com for news stories and articles related to the upcoming 2014 campaign.