Hao Wela: The Untold Story of Hot Rodding in Hawai‘i to be shown April 11

Flier for the film Hao Wela. The flier includes the documentary's title and the words "The untold story of hot rodding in Hawaii" and a black and white picture of a car racing at a dragstrip

An award-winning documentary detailing Hawaiʻi’s hot-rodding history produced by two UH West Oʻahu faculty members and an instructor will be screened next month at the university’s Campus Center.

The film, Hao Wela: The Untold Story of Hot Rodding in Hawai‘i, is scheduled to be shown at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 11 in C-208 courtesy of the campus Sociology Club. The free screening is open to students, faculty, and staff as well as the community. A panel discussion will follow the hour-long screening.

Black and White photo of two cars at a drag strip at the start of the race

Scene from the documentary Hao Wela

Hao Wela (hot rod) is the work of Psychology Prof. Dr. Mark Hanson, English Prof. Stanley Orr, and former UH West Oʻahu Instructor Wojciech Lorenc. The documentary took three years to complete and follows Hanson, a lifelong island “gearhead” as he examines the history, people, and passion of the state’s speed culture.  The documentary makes use of archival film and photographs and interviews with significant contributors to Hawaiʻi’s speed culture such as John DeSoto, Roland Leong, Jimmy Pfleuger, Earle Char and Mike Oakland.

Black and white photo of a dragster at Hawaii Raceway Park. Three people are in the photo, including a woman gesturing with her arm as she walks toward the dragster

Racing at Hawaii Raceway Park

In doing so it traces the history of racing communities in Hawaiʻi, from competitions early in the last century, to racing at Kahuku and elsewhere. Hanson serves as narrator for the documentary, which tells how the speed culture grew after the arrival of the first horseless carriages and motorcycles; it also dips into the demise of Hawaiʻi Raceway Park, the only sanctioned venue on Oʻahu. The shuttering of the raceway at the James Campbell Industrial Park left many racers without an outlet for their high-speed avocation. The film also tracks the communities of racers that reside on Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island.

The 2017 film received eight film festival awards including “Best Hawaii Film” at the 2018 Honolulu Film Awards, a Silver Award at the 2017 NA Film Awards and a Merit Award at the 2017 Cinemafest.

Besides the upcoming screening, the film also has been submitted to the James & Abigail Campbell Libraryʻs repository for faculty research, DSpace, and where it is available for viewing.

Image courtesy of Hao Wela