Though Cayman racing has had its ups and downs over the years Bobby Hulse has been a steady force.
Hulse has served as the president of the Cayman Motor sports Association and is currently its Time Attack Organizer.
Every month Hulse can be found out by Jay Bodden’s property off Sparky Drive leading a crew of race marshals while taking in the mixed aroma of burnt tires and a mini BBQ.
Hulse’s involvement in local racing stems from a love of cars that stretches back nearly 15 years.
As Hulse will tell you his introduction to local racing was as much about getting under the hood as it was about the people who knew it best.
The son of Belizean nationals Lenie and Lester Hulse, Bobby got his roots in racing as an aide to friends and local racers John and Andy Bodden.
‘I would help them as much as I could, which probably wasn’t much. That was around 1994 I think. I did what I could then and when I came back from school on vacation I would help them out.
‘I didn’t get really involved till I got back from school and made a point to do all I could to help them out as part of the crew.’
The Boddens were fixtures at the old Lakeview race track in the marl pit on Jay Bodden’s property where the Time Attacks now call home.
The track was a dirt course that offered circuit racing to true race cars and their drivers on the island and around the Caribbean. Its high marl corners and rocky textures gave many race crews fits in and around the engine bay.
Soon Hulse himself had an urge to hit the rev limiter and fish-tail his car around corners. His first step toward that reality was racing with Robert Campbell and the CARS racing team.
Campbell, a staunch driver safety advocate, gave Hulse a limited car to work with. The young George Town resident had to make due with a four door 1993 Toyota Tercel.
Hulse says the experience was his chance to handle racing on the track.
‘It [the Tercel] had a 1300cc carburetted engine that had maybe 75hp. It was the slowest thing out there but it was fun learning to get it around the track.’
But like many young men Hulse had a need for speed that would only be satisfied behind the wheel of a high powered machine.
‘I then stepped up to a turbo Starlet like the rest of the CARS team. Right now I am building a Toyota Altezza for Time Attack.
‘Before Ivan I had a heavily modified Turbo Starlet on the streets as well but after Ivan killed it I decided to switch to a Nissan Frontier Diesel truck. Something I could use to tow a race car.’
Those early days left an impression on Hulse. He came to see that what he loved most about racing wasn’t the cars or competing but rubbing shoulders with the backbone of the sport: the enthusiasts.
‘The thing I love most about racing is the people,’ the 32 year old says. ‘The driving is fun and winning once in a while is fun but the relationships you build and the people you meet overtake all of that for me.
‘I think Andy and John Bodden really influenced that. They never cared about winning or losing, they were out there to have fun and get along. That has really stuck with me.’
Over time Hulse moved away from being on pace at the track to keeping things moving around it. He became part of the administrative side of CMA and would eventually climb the ranks, reaching the proverbial summit as President last year.
Along the way Hulse would gain a new family to supplement the brothers and sisters he had gained on the track.
Hulse and his wife Vicki now boast a two year old son named Kai. The boy is sure to have more than a fair amount of influence from his parents to get into racing too.
Vicki Hulse has been a past President of CMA. According to Bobby she is an avid race fan who stands behind her husband all the way.
‘Over the years my biggest supporter has been my then girlfriend and now wife Vicki. She was always out watching, sometimes with her hands over her eyes, but still there. She makes everything easier because she loves the sport. She’s quite the catch.’
These days Bobby Hulse is as dedicated to hearing turbos spool and engines hum along an enclosed asphalt course as ever.
‘Right now I am committed to CMA and the time attack events,’ Hulse states. ‘I want to see CMA get back to where it was 10 years ago: right up on the forefront and further.
‘The time attack events have been a huge success. Every month we strive to improve it and we have had very positive results from both veteran racers and newcomers.
‘Every time we get more new people out that want to figure out their cars and have fun. We are also getting more and more spectators every time out cooking burgers and whatnot.’
Car racing may not suit everyone’s taste but Hulse feels the feedback he has gotten from the community, especially the corporate sector, is enough to warrant his role with CMA.
‘We have solid support from a few businesses so far. We don’t expect that our events will appeal to everyone right off the bat and we aren’t going around with our hands out.
‘We understand the marketing side of everything and we will build it up to the point where it will be a valid form of advertising for any business. We have solid turnouts every month so the exposure is growing.’
The growing appeal is like morphine: it dulls the pain of a sport with long-term issues, namely the availability of facilities, courtesy of hurricane Ivan.
Hulse says Ivan has left a scar on local racing that only more exposure and events can heal over time.
‘Right now the local racing scene is on a rebound as far as I can tell. We have been running time attacks for a year and a half and people are starting to come out of the woodwork again.
‘More people are starting to go out to the drag race events also and that’s great too. We have a ways to go but we will get there.’
At the end of the day racing may have to deal with unexpected curves and bumps in the road but at least Hulse will be part of its foreseeable future.
‘The support I have been getting over the last year and a half has been amazing. I have a great group of people that share the same vision as me. Time attacks would be no where if I didn’t have help.
‘The future looks promising for us. We would love to have our own track but if not we will do whatever we can. Right now we are hoping for the best, planning for the worse and dealing with the now.’