In the spotlight this week is West Coast bracket racer Henry Roberson.
Henry Giselle Roberson’s racing career started 18 years ago when his dad introduced him to the sport. More recently, he has been collecting wins all over the west coast on a weekly basis.
Earlier this week Henry, of North Highlands, CA, topped the DragChamp Top 10 List after winning two Wally’s in one weekend. By the way, he’s won five Wally’s just this season.
In addition to collecting winner’s checks like their going out of style, Henry live-streams almost every run. To see some of his videos, check him on Facebook here.
In the following Q&A, we learned more about Henry Roberson and his racing background.
How long have you been racing?
18 years, time flies!
How did you get introduced to the sport?
My dad. Growing up in the ghetto, many of the kids I grew up with didn’t have a father. My dad would stuff 10-20 (lol) bad ass kids in our motorhome, and head to the race track!
He was the hood mechanic, but also the neighborhood father figure. He is still a “dad” to many of my friends, to this day.
Which class or classes do you compete in? Where do you normally race?
My racecar is a true NHRA “Sportsman ET” car, so I footbrake in Sportsman, Pro, Super Pro, and E/Gas (11.60). I haul “$ticker$” all over the west coast chasing checks, from Arizona to Washington.
Tell us about your current race car.
1984 Ford Mustang GT350, affectionately named “$ticker$” (No idea why people call her that lol), and the “Money Maker”. Low budget racing operation, as I tow with a two wheel dolly and sleep in my truck.
It’s powered by a “Pick n Pull” (junkyard) 100% stock bottom end 302, 5.0L small block Ford. Cast iron Windsor Sr Roush 200cc heads, Parker Funnel Web intake, Holley 750dp, Crane .526 lift solid flat tappet cam, Power Glide tranny, 4500 D&P stall converter, 8.8 rear end with Strange 4.56 gears and spool, Moser axles, Baseline Suspensions rear setup, QA-1 front suspension, Chassisworks 8 point roll cage with aluminum dash.
The car weighs 2490# without driver. Best ET has been an 11.30 @ 117mph.
Please list your major racing accomplishments.
Two-time Track Champion, 2009/2018. Top 5 racer every single year. 13 Wally’s. Current Division 7 Sportsman ET Champion (Gold card holder). Won the ET Finals in Las Vegas in October 2018, my first Divisional Win! 2005 Rookie of the Year and 2018 Driver of the Year at Sacramento Raceway Park.
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
Race of Champions win at the ET Finals and to become a National Champion at Pomona would still be among my top goals in racing.
To experience the Spring Fling Million will happen in the near future. And I would love to haul my car back east, to compete in some of the big money footbrake stuff out there.
I also would love a driving opportunity to arise, to wheel for somebody else. For now, I just try to remain humble, and keep #WINNING!
What is your favorite race car, and why?
I own my favorite racecar. To me, growing up in the hood, Foxbody’s and low riders were everything. I dreamt of the day I could own a Fox so I saved up my money, and bought my first 5.0 when I was 17.
I have owned around 20 of them over the years and still currently own four of them. All super rare. The racecar, obviously. A 1984 Mercury Capri RS TTop, supercharged 5.0 5spd. My birth year, 1986 TTop Coupe, and a mini-tubbed yellow 1990 GT hatch (future Super Pro car).
My dad and family are die-hard Chevy, so I had to be different. Plus, my name is Henry (just like my dad) so Henry Ford just makes sense. Haha!
Tell us what you do for a living?
I am a full time bracket racer and I spend all my time and energy perfecting my craft. I did recently start working at a local Ford dealership, driving their shuttle bus. But, racing is literally all I care about in life.
I am a “Hustler” by trade lol. I wrench on cars on the side. Buy/sell cars, parts, goods. Whatever you need, I can find it for you cheaper. I am fortunate enough to have a lot of friends and businesses that support my racing operation.
They include Jay Boddie, Team Boddie Racing, (Street Outlaws). Marc Friere, at Rocklin Automotive. Matt Brooks, at D&P Torque Converters. Dennis Paz, at Paz Performance. Larry Bryant, at Norcal Transmission. Brian Ford, at A-Ford-Able Muffler and Interstate Batteries.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
The only people I’d prefer not to race, are my close friends. When we go big money racing out of town, I hate for a homie to pull up next to me. Other than that, nobody. I get excited to race against fast dragsters, and love lining up next to the best of the best, the west coast has to offer.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
Hard to pinpoint a specific answer. Bracket racing is flat out cutthroat. Thousandths of a second determine a win or loss of any given round. Split-second decisions decide the outcome of each race.
It is all repetition based, and nobody around here makes more laps than me. I usually clock 600-700 passes per year. So when I strap in, the confidence in my ability, and the knowledge of my racecar puts me at ease.
The seat time I’ve accumulated over the past 18 years, allows me to truly believe nobody can beat me. And that every event I show up at, is my race to win.
When I was younger, my dad would preach to me about embodying the “Killer Instinct”. Some people have it, some don’t. I practice hard daily, to ensure I’ve put myself in the best position possible, to succeed in this sport.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
There’s been a few over the years, haha. Most were when I first started racing at 15 years old around 2001.
One time, I pulled my 1982 Buick Regal around the water box. Backed into the water. Proceeded to do my burnout. Let off the brake pedal and the car shot backwards! 😣 I had done my burnout in reverse, lol.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
I go Facebook Live from inside my racecar every single time I go down the track. My fans and supporters ride with me on every hit. So I am very candid about my triumphs and tribulations.
In my head just before staging, I use breathing and visualization tactics. Telling myself “Be .00x, be .00x” and envisioning the light turning green. Plus playing out the race in my head. How the track position should look going down track.
Each round is different. So I come up with a pre-race game plan for every opponent and try my best to stick to it. If something doesn’t go as planned, I have a split second to switch the game plan while going down track, adjust, and try to turn on the electricity in my lane.
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
To me, winning is everything. I expect to do well at every event I enter and I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well. That’s a given to me. If you don’t expect to win, why race?
But, the comradery at the track is second to none. My racing friends are my extended family. We would do anything to help each other out between rounds. But once we stage, we’re trying to rip each others heads smooth off!
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
Very much so! I believe all forms of racers are superstition. It can be the dumbest, slightest things that bring out my OCD. For example, I must be the one to install my hood pins. If somebody helps and does it for me, I will take them back out and do them myself, haha.
My racecar must me clean inside and out. I will wax the car and butter up the tires between rounds. People will ask, “Hey you wanna do mine next?” I reply, “Sure! I charge $20 a minute, and usually takes about 10 minutes!”
All trash (water bottles, wristbands, papers) must be removed before leaving the pit to go race.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
Love to win! Bracket racing is not easy! Losses happen! But when all the long nights, bloody knuckles, lack of sleep pays off with a big event win, it instantly makes it all worth it!
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
I would say I’m equally confident and good at both. My machine is the weak spot in my operation. It isn’t as consistent as a lot of my friends racecars. But I know my car, and do very well in it simply making the most from what I have.
I just need to the car to be good enough, I will do the rest. The majority of the time I have the Be00Take00 “Driver” mindset. I fully believe I can “out-drive” my opponent for the round win.
What motivates you to continue racing?
It’s the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. All I’ve ever wanted to do is drag race, just like my dad. I grew up at the track and there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be.
Far fetched I know; But when it’s all said and done, I want to be considered one of the greats. So, I strive daily, working towards bringing my dream to fruition.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
I would own a gooseneck Toterhome with XL stacker trailer. Enclosed with a Top dragster probably, and a much faster Foxbody. Traveling this great nation, racing weekly (as I already do). Hitting big money event, after big money event.
How often do you use a practice tree?
I practice daily. Whether it be on the practice tree, or spot dropping while cruising down the highway, to envisioning hitting the tree at a stop light. I am always practicing.
What is your daily driver?
I’m into Fords and Honda’s, so my daily is a 1999 Civic EX. Dumped on full Tein one-piece coilovers and a carbon fiber hood and trunk are coming soon. All while getting 35+ MPGs, lol. (I am in California where it’s $4 a gallon!)
Favorite movie or TV show?
I don’t watch much TV. But I always eventually catch up on Street Outlaws. And I love my local sports teams; Sacramento Kings, San Francisco 49ers, and San Francisco Giants!
Favorite music, artist?
Local rappers, E-40, T-Nutty, Hollow-Tip, Mozzy, Nipsey Hussle. My Pandora pretty much stays locked on 90’s gangster rap, lol. I also grew up on Oldies! So I have an old soul and I love my Mo-Town classics! Slow jams and R&B set the mood on road trips!
Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?
There is no “besides racing”, racing is life, period. It consumes me. I think it, talk it, live it, breathe it, live for it! When I’m not racing, I’m turning my “Facebook Live” videos into my YouTube Web Series; “West Coast Bracket Racing!” on my “Roberson Racing Inc.” channel.
I do also enjoy spending my free time with my wonderfully understanding, caring, beautifully drop-dead gorgeous, fiance Julia (brownie points)! And my pitty pup, Malibu!
What are you really good at?
My lady says I’m good at EVERYTHING. Except for finding things and listening, haha!
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m colorblind. And will still have a full blown argument with you about the pigment of a certain color, lol.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
Definitely hang out with my friends, family, and the lady out and about! I am a people person and used to have serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). No babies yet, so I don’t really like being cooped up in the house, lol!
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Love and miss my Mexican Grandma’s cooking. Homemade flour tortillas, gumbo, seafood, quesadillas and steak sandwiches are my favorite. While racing out of town, I go out of my way to find hole-in-the-wall steak sandwich spots.
Basically, my favorite food is cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Put it on anything, and I’ll love it. Lately I’ve been eating a ton of salads though, and that’s pretty amazing too. I love to cook, hate to clean! Lol.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
My biggest fan, my biggest supporter, the reason I love drag racing, and the man I aspire to be, my father. He is 76 years old now, and starting to slow down a bit. But still dry hops his 4-speed Muncie, “do-right brothers” tunnel ram’d, SBC 350-powered Chevy Luv truck, down the 1320!
We are a super competitive family, and in his head, he still believes he can beat me in everything. We battle in ping pong, billiards, basketball, tennis, everything! Love and cherish that old man with everything I have.
I owe everything to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, for without him, nothing would be possible. I love God. Also, I am thankful to my sponsors, friends, and supporters. I am ready to take this racing thing to the next level. Just patiently waiting on my time to shine. #WINNING #H768NHRA #RobersonRacingInc. #WestCoastBracketRacing!