Hess Motorsports of Muenster, TX has proven themselves a top contender in both the ATV and UTV industry. Whether its competitively racing in the Pro Classes, or developing, machining, and producing performance parts that become “must haves” for most of their competition. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” Hess Motorsports has proven one of the the oldest motorsports marketing adage’s to be as true with aftermarket parts as it is with vehicles. The kicker with the Hess Motorsports race plan is that it also offers the perfect internal durability testing platform.They first did it with ATV’s and Shawn racing his way into the Pro XC1 Class. As popularity was shifting to UTV Racing, they jumped on the UTV bandwagon as well.
A decade later UTV Racing is still growing at an incredible rate, Shawn is still winning races and Hess Motorsports iswell known for building the high quality aftermarket parts that every racer wants to have on their machine.The father and son owned business is well known for their complete in-house race ATV and UTV builds, but even more so for their amazing machine shop. Literally a one stop shop, they not only race, develop, machine and sell billet UTV/ATV parts, but you can also purchase just about anything from them. You can even have them install and tune for you in house as well. Elka Shocks to A-Arms, Beadlocks to EFI Tuners, they have a competent team to install anything Off Road, and even offer in-house engine building services. If that wasn’t enough they also private label and/or manufacture billet parts for a handful of other well known UTV and ATV performance parts companies.
The Talon Build
Now that you’ve got a little history on these guys, it makes more sense that Shawn would be one of the first guys showing up at the track with a fully built Talon. In an effort to stay ahead of the game, Shawn picked up a new Honda Talon to R&D parts for it as soon as they were hitting the dealer floors. An invite to drive one at the initial press launch a few months prior had given Shawn a mental head-start, as he already new it could benefit from one of there steering quickeners. Drive time and some careful inspection had the internal wheels turning in a few other areas as well.The Hess Motorsports Steering Quickener is one of their best selling, most popular UTV parts and with good reason. The Hess Quickener can be found on the top racers UTV builds in every form of racing across the globe. The crew at Hess Motorsports tore into the Honda Talon immediately to retrofit and install one for testing.They offer the quickener in 1.5:1 and 2:1 reduction ratio’s depending on the vehicles factory steering ratio and characteristics. Certain UTV’s they offer both as a personal preference choice. After initial testing they went with a 2:1 ratio and anyone who likes to drive aggressively will be sure to prefer it over the stock steering ratio. The kit fits up perfectly to the stock steering wheel, or you can opt to adapt an ultra trick looking, Hess Steering wheel.
The Hess Steering wheel’s included buttons open the doors to a couple other cool options like the push button shift kit and addition of launch control, but we’ll get to that in a bit!At some point while testing those initial parts on the Talon, a plan was hatched for a full blown build and race effort. Following up on a pretty successful season racing the Yamaha YXZ, the decision couldn’t have been easy but they were confident in the machine and have the means to build anything they think could be improved.Another huge advantage is the solid group of Industry sponsors/partners that they work closely with.
With the capability to build just about anything in house, the Hess Motorsports team is extremely picky about who else has a hand in their personal race builds.With that said, the first hand off of the short course Talon build was to none other than Johnny Greaves for the Custom Cage, sick aluminium roof, and a bed delete. Yes thats the same Greaves Motorsports as in the Monster Energy backed truck team that won Crandon last year and still puts it down in the UTV classes as well. Pricing isn’t quite available as of press time but Hess is making the bungs and other machined pieces for them and they will be available to general public sometime soon.(www.johnnygreaves.com)
Shawn turned to HMF Engineering for their proven tough, Titan Exhaust system. The oversized 5” stainless steel system cuts 5 pounds while adding 7.5 HP and 3.8ft/lbs. of torque. The build also uses colour matched HMF Q Equipment, Defender Series front and rear bumpers and Rock Sliders for protection from any loose cannons on the race course or trail. They are built out of .095” steel tubing for maximum protection with a clean look and minimal weight. (www.hmfracing.com)
The Fox Suspension that comes equipped on the Honda Talon is top notch, but as with any suspension setup it can always be better. This is especially true when it’s fine tuned for what you plan on doing with it. Like a handful of other top racers, Shawn leaned on Gary Hinkle from GForce Suspension for the ultimate short course set-up and from watching his Talon on the track, it’s working.(www.gforceracingtechnolgies.com)
High speed cornering ability is a huge part of UTV short course racing. Limiting body roll is super critical, but you have to walk a fine line between limiting suspension travel and keeping the suspension acting freely when it needs to. Shawn’s Talon build uses a bolt on Double E Racing sway bar to reduce body roll and drastically improve high speed cornering ability. The system features an engineered spring steel torsion/spring bar and billet aluminium connection links with quality him joints at every pivot point. This fully adjustable set-up can provide the ideal ride in almost every condition. Check them out at (www.doubleeracing.com).
Looking for the perfect combination of forward traction, high speed stability and steering precision,Shawn went with a radial construction Maxxis Ceros tire.They opted for a slightly smaller 27” tire for lower CG and stability over the relatively smoother short course type racecourse. The Maxxis tires are fitted on 15×7” Fuel Tech Model D919 Beadlock’s in a nearly stock offset for optimum steering and minimal push.The interior of Shawn’s Talon was kept pretty simple with the exception of a high quality set of Corbeau race seats and 3” PRP 5 point harnesses for the ultimate in both safety and comfort. Unlike most UTV race builds, Shawn doesn’t run your typical suspension type seat. Just like in his previous race builds, the Hess Motorsports Talon race car would get composite fibreglass Corbeau FX1 PRO racing seats. These lightweight seats are designed with an emphasis on comfort, performance and safety.
Quite possibly the most comfortable race seat you could ever sit in, they are available in three differently sized models which is relative to the users waist size. The FX1 Pro features three different removable pads and is wrapped in black cloth or micro suede. Hess Motorsports makes and sells custom mounting brackets to mount the FX1 into any model Honda Talon. Corbeau FX1 seats are available through Hess Motorsports.
The last thing the Hess Motorsports needed to outsource was a communications system. Shawn opted to run Rugged Radio’s Short Course kit with hand held radios, a wired helmet for the driver and headset crew chief. The Rugged kit is similar to what has been used for off-road motorcycles for years and is incredibly reliable when line of site communication is the norm. This type of hand held kit is an affordable, effective, and convenient option for short course or other types of closed course competition.
Hess Motorsports Handles It From Here
The stock front mounted radiator location has proven problematic in just about every type of UTV racing. This is especially true to short course where your in close quarters with other race cars and constantly getting roosted. Dating back to the RZR 800 or even Rhino racing days, watered or wet race courses and chasing down a competitor whose on the gas could lead to overheating and/or the dreaded limp mode. Mud and roost clogged radiators were inevitable on until fabricators started mounting them up behind the driver and passenger headrests. This set up was the only way to go for serious MX, WORCS, Lucas Oil , or other Short Course type racing and it was just as effective for the mudder crowd.
The relocated radiator was a racing “must have” but it was pretty much reserved for those with well thought out, full custom built race cars. Hess Motorsports changed his thinking a few years back by designing an all inclusive, rear mounted radiator relocation kit. The kits are available for all popular sport UTV’s relocating the radiator to the bed, increasing coolant capacity and incorporating dual fans. The kit uses a high quality oversized CBR radiator with aluminium fan shrouds and 2 Spal, high output electric fans. Every Hess radiator relocation kit now also comes with a fan override switch allowing the driver or co-driver to manually control the fans and running temps. The kit works with stock and aftermarket cages and is mounted low enough to maintain viewing out of the back of the car.
Inside the car Hess Motorsport’s developed bolt in brackets to mount the Corbeau Seats as low as possible.They also developed and installed a rear view that will bolt into the stock or aftermarket cage. Hess Motorsports relocated the battery on Shawn’s race car and will be selling a kit for this as well. Trick billet Hess quick release fire extinguisher mounts were designed and installed as well, they are available for 1 pound and the larger 2.5 pound extinguishers.The 2:1 ratio steering quickener was already installed in the car, so they went with a six bolt steering wheel hub and a flat Hess Motorsports Steering Wheel. This is where the really trick stuff starts happening! The steering wheel hub accepts a button plate for radio controls, horn, etc.Hess Motorsports developed a steering wheel mounted push button shift kit to eliminate the paddle shifters, pretty trick but they didn’t stop there. The latest model,Live Valve Talon’s just recently came out with a feature called Launch Mode. A dash mounted switch that allows for full throttle starts that are similar to dumping the clutch on the start line of a motocross or drag race. The crew at Hess Motorsports figured out how to flash the non Live Valve ECU’s to install launch mode, and its operated by a steering wheel button as well.
Launch Mode isn’t the only thing going on with the Hess Motorsports ECU flash. If you run an aftermarket exhaust on the Talon you will need to do something to modify/compensate the fueling curve. Instead of just using adjusting the fuel via a Dobech or similar EFI tuner,a Hess Motorsports ECU flash offers so mush more. With a one day turn around at their shop, they can create HP and Torque gains throughout the power curve, optimise ignition timing for 91 octane fuel, raise your rev limit,bump your speed limit to 95 mph, optimize transmission shifting, adjust transmission for different tire sizes, lower the Radiator Fan on temperatures, and even install the Launch Control mode. They will need to know which exhaust your using as well as any engine or intake mods.Speaking to engine and intake mods, the Hess Motorsports crew also developed an engine package to make the N/A Talon run with the Turbo’s. Available as the exact same kit that they run on Shawn’s race car, it includes Port and Polish on your head, a 5 angle valve job, reface the valves, surface the head, and a Hess Performance camshaft. The kit comes with new OEM gaskets and a ECU flash. There are also options for higher compression CP Racing pistons and machined head studs if you want to run race fuel.
The stock Talon R suspension is being retained for now, and has so far proven itself durable and worthy.Since the build was wrapped up and the photo shoot took place, Hess Motorsports has also High Clearance and Straight adjustable Radius Rods. They’re machined from 7075 Aluminum for strength, the uppers are adjustable for camber adjustment and the bottoms are like nothing you’ve seen to date. They developed a bolt together design to speed up and simplify rear axle changes. They have just finished up testing and will be available as of print.
We all know a true race build is a work in progress,but as for now the Hess Talon was ready for Shawn to take on the PRO 1000 Non-Turbo Class at Tex Plex’s highly contested UTV Race Series. The Texplex TEXAS UTV Racing Series features the largest cash payout in national UTV racing with a guaranteed $110,000 Series Purse including 40K to the overall series champion in PRO TURBO and another 40K to PRO NA champion. A previously unheard of amount of cash for racing these UTV’s that have developed from the Yamaha Rhino “Golf Carts” in just 15 short years.
The Texplex UTV Series just happens to be in Shawn’s Home state of Texas and they are showing up ready to compete. More than 150 UTV racers have shown up to the first three rounds at Texplex looking for their share of that big purse. The course looks immaculate, with a similar layout to Lucas Oil or CORR type short course races. As expected Shawn has shown up ready to compete and managed to put his Talon on the box at all three events so far this year. Crazy impressive with the intense competition and especially for a brand new machine.
Shawn and the crew at Hess Motorsports are more than ready for that top spot on the podium and fine tuning the machine to perfection while waiting on that next race. Unfortunately for now, the next round is on hold for the COVID 19 virus, but you better believe Shawn will be as ready as ever when the restrictions are lifted and we can get back to racing!