Announced in January 2020, NASA Hawaii is NASA’s newest region. Its 2020 schedule consisted of 10 dates, all of which were NASA Rally Sport events. The region has increased the number of events on its 2021 schedule, so we thought we’d reach out to NASA Hawaii Regional Director Avery Tsui to see how things have been going and to find out what it’s like to rally in paradise and to find out what the future holds for NASA Hawaii.

Q: You’ve been running the NASA Hawaii Region for a year now. What’s that been like?

A: While a lot of work, the experience has been fun and rewarding. Of course, the true reward is I get the adrenaline rush of driving in the events we offer and organize. I’ve been a gearhead since high school and always loved motor racing. I’ve also helped with other local motorsports events over the years. So when conditions in Hawaii dictated that I should reach out to NASA to form a new region, the step was easy to make. The national leadership at NASA was extremely helpful and welcoming. I’m also very fortunate to have my wife Joy’s support. Her role in organizing COVID-19 groups, run groups and work assignments is very valuable.

Q: Your schedule has expanded by two events for 2021. Should we take that as a good sign?

A: Yes, definitely! We been blessed with enthusiastic, consistent attendance at our events. Being able to offer motorsports during a time of COVID-19 restrictions — by following the local government guidelines — has helped us grow a loyal group of racers. We already have the 2021 dates approved by our various venues. We also were contacted by a new venue and may be able to announce additional events in the near future. In addition, I’m a member of the Circuit Hawaii development team and a founding member, so once Circuit Hawaii opens for business, NASA Hawaii will have another new venue.

Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges since forming NASA Hawaii?

A: We didn’t have any big challenges. My experiences with other motorsports events and clubs prepared us for developing a new group and venues. Fortunately, we had great support from fellow motorsports friends. These friendships had been nurtured over many years, so there was already a lot of trust given our experience levels and skills.

If there was any “biggest challenge,” it would be to convince myself to allocate my normal yearly racing budget for 2020 to purchasing the equipment (i.e. timing system, safety equipment, flags, radios, cones, etc.) to get the program started.

Q: Any surprises?

A: The amount of support and gratitude from our participants has been somewhat of a surprise. Many friends with small businesses have been especially supportive, so that’s a pleasant surprise. But, I know most of the racers from other motorsports events or car clubs. We are all motorsports enthusiasts, so I guess It’s not really a surprise.

Q: Are motorsports enthusiasts difficult to find on an island where so many other things are vying for their attention?

A: Motorsports enthusiasts are not difficult to find In Hawaii. I would say the biggest difference between mainland and Hawaii motorsports enthusiasts is that, due to the high cost of living in the Islands, most Hawaii racers have much smaller budgets to allocate to racing. We have to organize our events and schedules with that in mind.

Q: How have your fields been in the year since NASA Hawaii was formed?

A: In 2020, we had between 14 to 35 folks at our events.

Q: Do people come from other Hawaiian islands to participate?

A: Yes, we have had racers from Kauai and in 2021 we are expecting folks from the Big Island of Hawaii to participate.

Q: Circuit Hawaii is a motorsports complex slated to be built not far from Coral Crater Adventure Park, where you hold most of your rally stages. Do you know anything more than what we can read on Circuit Hawaii’s website, and are you planning to include road racing in the NASA Hawaii Region?

A: Yes, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, I’m part of the Circuit Hawaii development team and a founding member. While we can’t reveal a lot of the details of the facility right now, Circuit Hawaii will definitely offer NASA road racing. We will try to offer any of the event types that NASA offers membership for. We are very fortunate to be involved in the planning stages of the new facility and future NASA events are already considered in our planning meetings.

Q: What are your goals for 2021?

A: For 2021, NASA Hawaii plans to continue to offer good value to our Rally participants and NASA Hawaii membership in general. We are also working to offer NASA Auto-X at a possible new venue. Discussions have already started on that effort. If the Circuit Hawaii effort can stay on schedule, our NASA Hawaii Rally events may be the first ever racing events at the facility. No promises, but that could be in 2021 as well.

Image courtesy of Avery Tsui

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