Fast Family Fun

Looking for reasonably priced family fun? The new boxcar racing track at Kunia offers just that, as well as early lessons in being a good driver

Steve Murray
Friday - January 20, 2006
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Kauanoe Marinas takes the lead ahead of Samson Paison and Kawehi Marinas, and Brady and Kamilla Marinas
Kauanoe Marinas takes the lead ahead of Samson
Paison and Kawehi Marinas, and Brady and Kamilla

The smiles do a bad job of hiding the customers’feelings after their day at the track. The laughter and the running between the start and finish line is broken only when it’s time to enjoy the picnic lunch, or when they get bumped by mom and dad as they take their turn behind the wheel.

The new American Box Car Racing International race track in Kunia may not be on the lips of every parent or child with a need for controlled speed, but it shouldn’t take long for the word to spread about a family activity you can actually afford.

“People are coming out to have parties, to celebrate family things and they think they are here for fun, and they are having fun. But what they don’t realize is it’s an educational program,” says executive director B.C. Cowling.

The purpose of the program is to teach kids driving skills years before they ever get behind the wheel of an actual car.

“The teenagers out there are sometimes using very poor judgement, sometimes killing themselves and others. And we’re focused on teaching driving skills at an early age,” says Cowling. “Not just how to steer and use the brakes, but that there are also safety rules of the road. If you get a 5-year-old used to that when they get to high school and drivers ed, they will become safer drivers when they are actually behind the wheel.”

And the lessons are not being lost on those most enjoying the activities.

“It’s fun and it’s good because the same rules you use in here you can apply to the real world,” says Taryn Kuroda, a 13-year-old student at Kapolei Middle School who was sharing the special day with her younger brother Landon.

Trustin Chun has the inside track on Tristan Scharfenstein and Trisha Chun
Trustin Chun has the inside track on Tristan
Scharfenstein and Trisha Chun

Words like this are encouraging to Taryn’s parents, Michelle and Howard.

“Oh yeah, they are definitely learning,” says Michelle. “They are watching each other and helping each other to follow the rules - how to stay in the lane, how to brake.”

But no matter how much the kids learn about being good citizens on the road, parents are just as thankful they have found something the whole family can enjoy.

“It’s fun for both the kids and the parents,” says Michelle. “It’s hard to find something they both would like to do because of the seven-year age difference, but they both are interested.”

Others agree that box car racing is a fun activity they can take part in without digging too far into their wallets. A big plus for any Island family.

Clayton Chun brought his two children, Tricia and Trustin, to the park trying to find something they could all enjoy.

“We were looking for some thing for the whole family and you can’t beat the price,” says Chun of the $6 fee good for four hours of racing. Additional visits are $4 if you hang onto your card.

“It’s hard to find affordable fun for the whole family. Even us old folks are having fun, and I qualify for the senior citizen discount,” laughs Chun after completing his latest run along the 500-foot track that snakes through 12 turns.

But will the Chun family return?

“It depends on how much they bug me,” he says.

B.C. Cowling
B.C. Cowling

American Box Car Racing International is a non-profit group that is working with the City and County of Honolulu to provide healthy activities for Island children and their families. The first phase of the current facility on Kupuna Loop was built with $450,000 in funding and in-kind donations. Later phases will include a classroom workshop where kids can learn to build their own cars and another, larger track. This, of course, all depends on funding and the help of volunteers. Cowling says the fees the customers pay account for only 45 percent of the operating costs.

“We still need capital campaign help to finish the site,” he says. “The capital campaign is ongoing. We are 18 months into it and are still discussing with corporations and applying to foundations for support and in-kind support.”

There is little doubt families hope they are successful. Mainly because it was the families themselves who made things happen.

“The only reason we are doing this is because the community has shown us step by step over the years that they want this,”

Cowling says. “There was no master plan. No one laid $5 million on us to build a water park. We are here because the community has been leading us here and asking us to do this.”

Jaren Viloria was there with his ohana to celebrate his son’s birthday. And if 5-year-old Trenton has any say, it won’t be long before they return.

“We brought him to the old place in Pearl City (shut down by construction of Wal-Mart on the same site) when he was 2, and he’s always asking us to come back.”

And though Trenton tends to be a bit quiet, he did indicate that he was the top driver in the family - a claim that was contested the entire afternoon as dads, uncles and sons gently teased each other about their lack of speed or lane control.

“It’s not long before the kids are leaning into the turns or doing anything to get more speed,” Viloria says after finishing a lap.

While some may argue whether fun or education is the most important part of the day, the one thing there is no question about is safety. No one climbs into a car without understanding the rules. That means wearing helmets, long pants that cover the ankles, shoes and attending safety instructions prior to getting started. Don’t worry, it only takes a few minutes and after that the track is yours for as many laps as you can handle.

While customers leave happy but a bit tired after a day of racing, no one seems more pleased than Cowling himself.

“On a scale of 1 to 10?” he asks. “It’s a 35. People get out of the box car track what they put into it. We’ve seen some wonderful uplifting experiences, a lot of learning, occasionally some little league dad syndrome, but it’s all good and they are sharing quality time with their kids.”

And really that’s what it’s all about. Family and learning.

For more information, call 947-3393 or 382-5653 or go to

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