Hulse revving closer to glory

Two years ago Bobby Hulse was hard
at work transforming an entry-level luxury sedan into a motorsports machine.
Now he’s just a few months away from being one of Cayman’s autocross champions.

Heading into this month’s Time
Attack dexterity race on 25 September, put on by the Cayman Motorsports
Association, Hulse is neck-and-neck with Keith “Speedy” Tibbetts III atop the
unlimited division. This season Hulse has consistently produced top three finishes
at the Progressive Loop course on Sparky’s Drive behind the wheel of his flat
black 1999 Toyota Altezza.

Like its owner, the Altezza has
quickly emerged as a force on the scene. The Japanese version of a Lexus IS200
sports sedan is low and light with enough power to consistently run times under
90 seconds. To do it Hulse, 34, put in dozens of hours and thousands of dollars
in modifications. Among the alterations is a racing suspension, Toyo tires and
fully stripped interior.

Hulse states he is happy with the
way his car is handling and his racing on a whole.

“I am pretty happy with my
performance this year,” Hulse said. “I have a very good feel for the car now
and it has been performing 100 percent all year. My only fall back I think is
that I’m not able to nail the runs right off the bat. I need to work on that
for the upcoming Al and Jay Bodden Memorial where every run counts.”

Interestingly Hulse is no stranger
to racing or Toyota
vehicles. He started out in the mid-1990s with a 1993 Toyota Tercel sedan that
had a 1300cc carburetted engine good for roughly 75hp. It was a fixture at the
old Lakeview Raceway track running for Robert Campbell and the CARS race team.
From there he upgraded to a Toyota Starlet, which was destroyed by Hurricane
Ivan six years ago.

Now the George Town resident is the president of the
motorsports association and is all about encouraging competition. Proof of that
came two Saturdays ago at the August Time Attack race. Even though division
rival Speedy saw his Ace Paint Impreza suffer mechanical issues and drop out of
the competition, Hulse offered to share seat time in the Altezza with him.

Like any competitor, Hulse had his
doubts about helping Tibbetts III.

“I have put a ridiculous amount of
care and time into the car, so giving Keith the car was akin to sending your
teenage daughter to the prom with a Hells Angel.”

Hulse’s generosity nearly
back-fired as he barely won the unlimited class in a time of 84.1s compared to
Tibbetts III’s time of 84.8s. Speedy bested Hulse in the division’s battle run
with a time of 62.65s compared to 65.4s.

Tibbetts III, who interestingly
enough doubles as the motorsports association secretary, stated he was happy
with Hulse’s Altezza and his sportsmanship.

“Bob’s car is simply amazing. I really
have to thank him for giving me the opportunity to drive it. It really makes me
think about where to take my own car in the future.”

Like many racers Hulse has a number
of interests competing for his attention. From his job as a Graphic Designer
for Government Information Services to his wife Vicki and son Kai, it is a
wonder he finds time to race. Then again the son of Belize nationals Lenie and Lester
Hulse has never focused on winning accolades. As he states what keeps him
intrigued is witnessing the development of local drivers through autocross.

“The most impressive improvement
I’ve seen this year was from Marcus Huggins. He made a quantum leap from one
event to the next taking a win in unlimited two months ago. However we are
losing to him college but he will be back in the car next summer I’m sure. Ian
Tibbetts in his Corvette keeps getting better and Ajoni (Ambersley) will not
stop getting better either.

“Every single competitor that
regularly attends keeps getting better though, it’s impossible not to. It’s
like school that you really want to go to, you are bound to learn something.”


Hulse stands out in his Altezza.
Photo: Matthew Yates

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