Ed Hakonson, local resident, employer and business owner was one of seven inducted into the Candian Motorsport Hall of Fame during the Canadian International Auto Show on February 15, 2020. Ed co-founded of the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association. He began racing snowmobiles in the late 1960’s and recorded multiple wins in the 250cc class before being recruited by Arctic Cat and becoming one of their first factory backed racers competing in Canada and United States. In 1976, he took his snowmobile and completed one of the longest open water crossings in Canada at the time, an event televised on Wide World of Sports. In 1983 he started his own clothing company Choko Design which became an important supplier of driver branded merchandise and allowed him to sponsor and mentor CASCAR/NASCAR Canada Championship driver Peter Gibbons. A NASCAR team owner since 2001, Ed Hakonson has been a driving force both as an owner and as a
builder in the lives of numerous Canadian racers. Below is a script interview borrowed from the Fast Eddie website. The video was produced by Fast Eddie. It can be viewed on the Fast Eddie Speedwear website. fasteddiespeedwear.com
“I could drive at 150 miles an hour all day and it would not bother me. I just love speed. Over the years I’ve owned about 180 cars. Some of those were muscle cars – everything from a ’67 Chevelle, big block cars, to little exotics. I’ve had a lot of corvettes.”
Standing beside his race car, Ed says, “There’s competition here. There’s our mindset against your mindset to see who can come out with the fastest car the best driver and win a championship so those kinds of things are what drive me.”
Ed Hakonson loves cars… and loves to race. His love for speed formed because he was “forced” to go slow. At 3 months old Ed contracted polio, destroying his left leg. Between age of 9 and the age of 13, Ed endured 13 surgeries.
“From early on in school I was always a target of being knocked down, being pushed over. I was being picked on by somebody that would not stop and so I became physical, I un-did my brace, took it off, and when that person came to bully me again, I used my brace in a violent way,” said Ed.
Then Ed’s life turned for the better. The ten-year-old was selected to become the Easter Seals “Timmy” – the charity’s ambassador. His mission was to help children with disabilities. “That was a surprise to me, I was pretty much a little hellion up until then.” He met the Queen, Prime Ministers and celebrities, but it was legendary wrestler “Whipper” Billy Watson who gave Ed confidence, hope and determination.
“He also took a little bit of a chip off my shoulder that I got from being bullied he just said stop feeling sorry for yourself and you need to start understanding what your position is in life.” As a farm-boy, Ed learned to build, fix and race cars and snow machines, being obsessed with the thrill of going fast.
“I never wanted to be second. Because when I’m walking down the street, I have no choice but to be second because I can’t walk as fast as you can. However, when I was on a piece of machinery, it kind of equaled the playing field,” said Ed. “If you can’t run you start looking at other things you can do. My left leg was bad, but the right leg was good, and so right leg is what hits gas pedal. The left brakes – I had a lot more fun hitting gas pedal than break.”
The nickname Fast Eddie came from race competitors who watched the so-called crippled kid winning races. Ed Hakonson was named to the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in February 2020.
But interestingly, he also had a love of design. In 1983, he founded Choko Design, which manufacturing tire pressure gauges for dirt bikes and ATV with special tire inflation requirement of under 3 lbs. He also had a flare for design and he expanded his business to design and manufacture his own line of high quality and fashionable snowmobile suits.
Ed ventured into licensed apparel and became a designer, manufacturer and distributor of automotive based apparel for some of the industries top companies, including General Motors, Snap-on Tools, Dodge, and Ford. “We have been in business 37 years, so there’s no doubt we have sold over 100 million garments, accessories, clocks, gloves, and jackets.”
Now the time has come to put Fast Eddie’s own name on his celebrated and edgy designs. “We wanna build our own brand that’s on the outside of the garment, not on the inside of the garment. And with our own brand, we feel that we can give back also. And my choice for giving back is with The Easter Seals,” says Ed. “I believe Easter Seals needs to have some more support. They don’t have any government support they rely on donations. I’m sure it’s my purpose to persevere. Bank accounts come and go, integrity won’t,” says Ed.
“Unfortunately, in some ways, and fortunately in other ways, umm, I’ve never lost it – I still love speed,” concludes Ed.
Ed Hakonson in 1956. The brace on his left leg is the result of a fight with polio. He later became the Easter Seals “Timmy”.