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Hultquist Races Past Beaches To Become Hawaii Champion Go Kart Racer

When you think of Hawaii, pristine beaches, big waves and palm trees come to mind, not car dealerships and auto racing. But that’s exactly the world Tim Hultquist lives in – one where he enjoys the splendor of the state’s natural beauty while carving out a career as an ASE Master Certified Technician and a champion go kart racer.

“I moved to Maui from Colorado at age 13 in 1973 and I have been here since,” said Hultquist, the shop foreman at Island Dodge, a full service Chrysler Corporation dealership. “It’s a great place to live and work.”

While Hawaii’s ocean breezes may have tempted Hultquist to hit the beaches for more traditional island recreational activities, his passion for cars and racing have taken him in a different direction.

“I started playing with a go kart while I was in high school,” said Hultquist, who competes as part of the Team ASE Grassroots Racing Program at Puunene Go Kart Track on Maui. “My dad picked up a go kart at a garage sale and he would let me and my brother ride out at the drag strip where he raced. I always enjoyed that a lot and when a friend took me out to the Maui Go Kart Association races about eight or nine years ago, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to get a kart and race.”

The results have been nothing short of spectacular as Hultquist won the Maui Go Kart Association Hawaii State Championship Senior Sportsman title last year after a runner-up finish in 2006. In 2003, Hultquist also captured the KT-100 Heavy Class state title after again finishing second in the title chase the previous season.

“We compete in a 10-race season from February to November,” Hultquist stated. “I race an Invader kart that weighs out a 345 pounds with the driver. We run a Yamaha KT 100CC two-stroke, single-cylinder engine. It makes 16-18 horsepower and we probably top out at about 55 miles per hour in our class. It feels like you are going a lot faster. You’re an inch or so off the ground at the most, so the sensation of speed is intensified. It’s a lot of fun and the racing is great.”

Hultquist went on to say that since his kart has no suspension, the chassis is tuned to track conditions through the use torsion bars, seat struts and axle thickness. Meanwhile, most karts run a single caliper on the rear axle while karts in the ‘shifter’ divisions often employ a pair of front calipers complete with individual master cylinders that can be adjusted for brake bias.

Hultquist got on the path to being a championship racer after earning a two-year certificate in auto mechanics at Maui Community College in 1980, He joined the service staff of Island Dodge right out of school and has been there ever since.

Meanwhile, go kart racing was just getting started in Hawaii in the early 1980’s when club founder, Enos Kailiehu, sparked interest in the sport tooling around the Puunene drag strip on a kart he had purchased and refurbished. Within six months, more than a dozen go-karters were coming to the informal meets at the Maui drag strip and in 1983 the Maui Go Kart Association – now 45 members strong – began competing on a monthly basis on a makeshift track at the drag strip.

Later, the club refurbished an old World War II airfield tarmac to create a new home – Puunene Go-Kart track. Today, the eight turn, half-mile sprint course is sanctioned by the International Kart Federation (IKF) and is considered the premiere go kart facility in Hawaii.

“Stock car racing on Maui went away years ago,” said Hultquist. “They used to run those at the old county fairgrounds. The drag strip here at Maui has been here since 1964 or so and is still going strong. My dad still races there. He has a 1968 Barracuda that has a new Chrysler 5.7 fuel injected Hemi crate engine that we were able to get him through dealership. He loves telling everyone he has a ‘Hemi Cuda.'”

While competing as a Team ASE Grassroots Racer on weekends, Hultquist spends most of his time at Island Dodge supervising a team of service technicians. Both ASE Master and fully Chrysler certified, Hultquist has been putting in plenty of extra hours lately keeping his customers happy.

“We’ve had up to 13 technicians working here, but right now, we’ve only got eight so we’re a little short handed at the moment and we.ve been working some overtime,” said Hultquist, who has been married 25 years to his wife, Karleen, and has two sons, Tremayne (also an ASE Certified) and Tyler. “We’ve definitely got a spot right now for anyone with Chrysler and ASE certifications. It really helps having the ASE certifications because the state of Hawaii recognizes it as a license now. When I first started, they didn’t because they had their own system. Also having ASE certifications helps with some Chrysler certifications as they recognize it as level one training in some areas.

“A lot of technicians think Hawaii is great, but unfortunately they don’t come here because they think he cost of living a little high,” Hultquist continued. “That discourages a lot of people. They have second thoughts and don’t come, but somebody can still make a good living here working on cars. I’m living proof of that.”

While a solid professional career has provided Hultquist the ability to enjoy hobbies such as go karting, his satisfaction on a daily basis is more than just financially driven.

“I really enjoy helping people,” Hultquist stated. “I get a lot of satisfaction in fixing things that other people can’t. I have some customers that are willing to wait for me to work on their car even though there might be someone else available. They want me to take care of their car for them. That’s very rewarding when that happens.”

About The Team ASE Grassroots Racing Program

All ASE-certified professionals who are drivers, owners, or pit crew technicians for local race teams are eligible to participate in the Team ASE Grassroots Racing Program.

All Team ASE Grassroots Racing participants are provided decals for their helmets and race vehicles, Team ASE Racing hats, embroidered insignia and camera-ready artwork.

To participate in the Grassroots Racing Program, please click on the following link – www.ase.com/racing/register.asp.

For more information about the Maui Go Kart Association, please log on to www.mauikartingclub.com.

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John Close covered his first NASCAR race in 1986 at Bristol. Since then, Close – a former Associated Press newspaper sports editor – has written countless articles for numerous motorsports magazines, trade publications and Internet sites.

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