Kart racing enthusiast dies while helping son compete

A Kennewick business owner and kart racing enthusiast died while trying to help his son compete in a kart race Sunday in Richland.

Arthur "Art" Charles Carpenter II had several medical issues and recently had been hospitalized, his friends said. He was 41.

"Art came from a super-well-known family in the area," said Gene Wagner, a fellow kart racer and Port of Kennewick commissioner. "We joked with him all the time."

Carpenter's father Gary owns a hardware store -- that was started by his father -- on West Columbia Drive, where Art also ran his Kart Sport Northwest.

Art was a regular at the Horn Rapids Kart Track, Wagner said. He encouraged and trained his son to be a good kart racer, he said. "Art loved his son, and they did everything together like brothers," Wagner said. He was a coach, mentor and a teacher rolled into one, he said.

Art would bring a trailer full of parts at the race track to sell, Wagner said, adding he had a huge selection that kept everyone happy.

Art was passionate about kart racing and also served on the board of the Tri-City Kart Club for many years, said Corey Poynor, club president. "He helped us accomplish many things."

As part of the board, he helped to get the race track paved and redesign the pit area to put water and power there, Poynor said.

"He was a pretty accomplished racer. He was a big part of kart racing scene in the Northwest."

At 22, Art Carpenter wanted to be an Indy-car driver, according to a story the Herald published in 1991, the year the Kennewick native was invited twice by the prestigious Elf Winfield Racing School near Bandol, France, to show his driving skills. He began "driving automotives since the age of 6," the story said.

And his passion stayed with him until his dying day.

His funeral arrangements are pending. Mueller's Tri-Cities Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.