Tom Horton was born in Compton, California, in 1951, into a family that understood motorcycles. His
father, Tom Sr., was a rider who hung
with a fast crowd.
“My dad was friends with Jim
Hurtubise, a sprint car driver,” Horton
said. “He went to school with Don
Hawley, a sprint car and flat track bike
racer, and he knew Tommy Driscoll,
another guy in sprint cars and midgets.
Dad wanted me to be a race car driver,
so they got me started driving quar-ter-midgets at 4 years old.
“We raced at Buena Park but mostly
at Lions Dragstrip. They had a quar-ter-midget track there and we raced
there every Friday or Saturday night.
The first time I drove one I was not
quite 4 years old.”
Horton says he didn’t think about the
danger much, but then, he was 4.
“They had them pretty restricted, I
guess,” he said. “But I took to it right away.”
In 1959, Horton’s life took an import-
ant turn, in more ways than one, when
his father got transferred to Acton,
California, where there was a TT track.
“My dad was friends with Eddie
Mulder’s dad and other guys in that
area so, naturally, we got started in
that,” Horton said. “My cousin had a
Yamaha 80 and I got to ride it around
the TT track.”
Horton credits Al Mulder with being
one of his early influences.
“Al was one of the greatest guys I
ever met,” Horton said. “As a little boy,
I used to sit on the hood of his truck
and watch Eddie race. Finally, I got to
go around that track, and that’s where
it all started.”
Horton says his dad believed the
desert was the best place to hone his
“So, I went riding in the desert, on a
Hodaka,” Horton said. “I progressed a
little bit and, at 14, I began riding my
In those early days, Horton’s heroes
were all Grand National riders, and he
wanted some of that. Tom, Sr., was not
fully onboard with the idea, but made
his son a proposition.
Tom Horton was, and still
is, at home in the dirt. He
made a name for himself
as a force to be reckoned
with racing with the best
at Ascot Raceway in
32 MCN I For Enthusiasts MCNEWS.COM
TOM HORTON MAY BE THE BEST
DIRT TRACK RIDER YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
> By Joe Michaud